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He became a paper billionaire in 1986, and within a decade his net worth had reached into the tens of billions of dollars—making him by some estimates the world’s richest private individual.
Nevertheless, as Microsoft’s power and reputation grew, and especially as it attracted the attention of the U. Justice Department’s antitrust division, Gates, with some reluctance, became a more public figure.
Rivals (particularly in competing companies in Silicon Valley) portrayed him as driven, duplicitous, and determined to profit from virtually every electronic transaction in the world.
His supporters, on the other hand, celebrated his uncanny business acumen, his flexibility, and his boundless appetite for finding new ways to make computers and electronics more useful through software.
Windows CE operating system platform for networking noncomputer devices such as home televisions and personal digital assistants, created the Microsoft Network to compete with America Online and other Internet providers, and, through Gates’s company Corbis, acquired the huge Bettmann photo archives and other collections for use in electronic distribution.
At the very least, historians seem likely to view him as a business figure as important to computers as John D.
The second of three children born to a lawyer and a teacher, Bill Gates attended private school, where he discovered his interest in software.In June 2006 Warren Buffett announced an ongoing gift to the foundation, which would allow its assets to total roughly billion in the next 20 years.At the beginning of the 21st century, the foundation continued to focus on global health and global development, as well as community and education causes in the United States.After a short transition period, Gates relinquished day-to-day oversight of Microsoft in June 2008—although he remained chairman of the board—in order to devote more time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.In February 2014 he stepped down as chairman but continued to serve as a board member.Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! In high school he helped form a group of programmers who computerized their school’s payroll system and founded Traf-O-Data, a company that sold traffic-counting systems to local governments.Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999) in 1994 to fund global health programs as well as projects in the Pacific Northwest.During the latter part of the 1990s, the couple also funded North American libraries through the Gates Library Foundation (renamed Gates Learning Foundation in 1999) and raised money for minority study grants through the Gates Millennium Scholars program.He was fascinated by the machine and began spending time with a group of friends that included Paul Allen.The group named itself the Lakeside Programmers Group.