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Bill Gates

REUTERS / THOMAS PETER - stock.adobe.com

A Brief History of Bill Gates: From Microsoft to Today

Bill Gates is a successful entrepreneur who co-founded Microsoft, the world's largest software company. Through his many different business pursuits, Gates has become one of the wealthiest people in the world.

1955: William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle, Washington, to Mary and William Henry Gates II. Gates was raised in Seattle.

1967: Gates's parents enrolled him in Lakeside School, which was an exclusive private school.

1968: Gates met Paul Allen, who was another student at Lakeside School. He began programming in the computer lab, and he created a computerized class schedule for the school.

1973: Gates entered Harvard with a pre-law major. He quickly shifted his focus to math and computer science.

1975: Gates offered to develop software for MITS Altair, the maker of the first personal computer. MITS accepted his offer and paid him $3,000 plus royalties. Gates took a leave of absence from school to focus on computer ventures.

1976: Gates and Allen registered the name Microsoft as a trademark. Gates wrote a letter to computer hobbyists criticizing the practice of sharing software instead of paying for it.

1977: Gates took another leave of absence from Harvard to set up Microsoft offices in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

1979: Microsoft's headquarters were moved to Bellevue, Washington.

1981: Microsoft and Apple worked together.

1983: Paul Allen left Microsoft after he developed Hodgkin's disease.

1985: Microsoft Windows 1.0 was launched.

1986: Microsoft went public with an initial public offering (IPO) of $21 per share, making Gates a millionaire at age 31. Someone investing $1,000 on this date in 1986 would have an investment worth more than $1 million today.

1987: Gates became the youngest billionaire in the world. He also met his future wife, Melinda French, in New York.

1994: Bill and Melinda Gates were married in Hawaii.

1995: Gates's mother died of breast cancer a few months after his wedding. The newlyweds took time off to travel.

1995: Windows 95 launched, and Internet Explorer was introduced. Gates's fortune of $12.9 billion made him the world's richest man.

1996: The Gateses' first daughter, Jennifer, was born.

1997: The Gates family moved to Lake Washington.

1999: The Gateses' son Rory was born.

2000: Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft, and Steve Ballmer took over. Gates assumed the role of chief software architect.

2000: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was established, which merged the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation.

2001: The Xbox was released.

2002: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation installed 47,000 computers in 11,000 libraries throughout the United States. Through this initiative, 95 percent of libraries were equipped with computers with Internet access.

2002: The Gateses' second daughter, Phoebe, was born

2005: Time magazine named Bill Gates one of the most influential people of the 20th century.

2005: Gates received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II because of his contributions to the business and philanthropic worlds.

2006: Warren Buffett gave the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stock shares worth $31 billion, a sizable chunk of his wealth.

2006: For their philanthropic health and education work in the world, Bill and Melinda Gates were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government.

2007: Harvard awarded Gates an honorary degree, and Gates gave the commencement speech.

2008: Gates left his daily job at Microsoft, but he continued working as chairman and adviser for important projects.

2010: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declared the "Decade of Vaccines," pledging $10 billion over the next 10 years to facilitate research, development, and delivery of vaccines to impoverished countries.

2013: Gates launched a $5.5 billion project to eliminate polio by 2018. India was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.

2014: Gates stepped down as chairman of Microsoft but remained on the board and continued to serve as a technology advisor.

2015: Through the foundation, Gates announced the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Alliance Network (CHAMPS) to help prevent childhood deaths.

2016: Bill and Melinda Gates were named recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for their philanthropic work.

2017: The foundation gave $300 million to help farmers in Africa and Asia manage climate change.

2017: Gates started a project to build a "Smart City" in Arizona, named Belmont.

2018: Gates focused on poor sanitation as host of the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing. Gates also collaborated with Google co-founder Larry Page to provide $12 million to create a universal flu vaccine.

2019: Netflix released a documentary titled "Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates."

2020: The outbreak of COVID-19 spurred the foundation to team with Welcome Trust and Mastercard to pledge $125 million toward research on the virus. Gates revealed that his foundation was prepared to invest billions to build factories to develop a vaccine.

Today, Gates and his foundation continue to focus on improving people's lives worldwide through education initiatives and health research.