History of Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder Who Dropped Out to Pursue a Dream

History of Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder Who Dropped Out to Pursue a Dream

A bespectacled man from Seattle, the United States in 1975, decided to drop out of college because he wanted to pursue his dream of establishing a software company.

Not in vain, because of his bold decision, he managed to establish one of the most famous technology companies in the world, Microsoft.

The man is none other than Bill Gates. Microsoft’s success made the name Bill Gates increasingly soar. The owner’s full name William Henry Gates III was even named the youngest billionaire at the age of 31 in his time.

Success and wallowing in wealth did not make Gates apathetic and arrogant. He is known to be fond of doing philanthropic activities by donating his wealth.

Seeing the success of Gates after dropping out of college, there is a growing idea that success doesn’t have to be achieved with a college degree.

This thinking is getting wilder because many of the names of the founders of leading technology companies today have also never finished their studies.

Call it another Microsoft founder Paul Allen, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple founder Steve Jobs, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum, and many other names.

Gates himself actually does not agree with this thought. In a blog post of his, Gates revealed that he was lucky to be able to successfully develop Microsoft after dropping out.

According to him, graduating from college and getting a degree is one sure way to success. Because a college graduate tends to have a greater chance of finding a job that is rewarding and has a higher income.

“In fact, evidence shows that college graduates lead healthier lives than those without a degree,” Gates said in the 2015 Gates Notes blog post.

Wrote the first software at the age of 13

Before successfully founding Microsoft as it is today, Gates was known as a child who likes to read and tends to be alone.

Gates is known to prefer to spend his time reading books. Even in his teens, he had finished the entire “World Book Encyclopedia” series.

In fact, Gates is one of the children who did well in school. However, Gates’ parents shared that his son often looked bored and aloof. And Gates’ parents worry that their son will grow up to be a loner.

That worry only lasted a moment. At the age of 13, Gates attended the private Lakeside School in the late 1960s. This is where Gates’ interest in the world of computers began.

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When Gates was in the eighth grade, his school purchased Teletype Model 33 ASR terminals and General Electric (GE) computers for students.

Computers are still a new thing for everyone at that time. However, the school actually gives freedom for students to learn it. Gates became one of the students who fell in love with the new device.

He was even released from math classes just to pursue his interest and interest in the BASIC programming language on General Electric computers.

With this device, Gates wrote his first computer program. The program is a tic-tac-toe game in which the user can play against the computer.

In addition to creating his own program, Gates is also known to help his school to create student class scheduling software.

While at Lakeside School, Gates made friends with Paul Allen, who was two years older than Gates. However, the two became good friends because they shared a common interest in computers.

Around 1972, when Gates was 17 years old, Gates and Allen became business partners to work on “Traf-o-Data”, a computer program to monitor traffic patterns in Seattle, USA.

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The program was a huge success and made Gates want to quit school and focus on his business. But his parents were against Gates’ wishes and wanted him to continue law school to become a lawyer like his father.

Founding Microsoft with Paul Allen

In 1973, Gates finally graduated from Lakeside School with a near-perfect SAT (standard test for admissions to US colleges) of 1590 out of 1600.

With this score, Gates managed to enter Harvard University, majoring in law, as his parents dreamed of.

His best friend, Allen, was already educated at Washington State University. Although separated, the two are said to be on good terms.

While at university, Gates could not suppress his interest in the world of computers so most of his time during college he spent in computer laboratories.

In 1974, Allen decided to drop out of Washington State University to work as a programmer at the Boston-based technology company Honeywell.

A year later, in 1975, Gates read an article in the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine that changed his life.

The article contains news about the Altair 8800 minicomputer made by the company Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). The existence of these mini-computers made Gates and Allen even more interested in the personal computer industry.

The two friends ventured to call MITS. They lied to MITS by saying that they were working on a software program based on the BASIC programming language that could run on the Altair 8800.

In fact, neither of Gates and Allen had Altair 8800 computers at that time. The software in question is only limited to the two of them and has not been worked on.

When MITS expressed interest in the “occult” software described by Gates and Allen, the two of them just rushed to develop it.

At this point, Gates finally made up his mind to leave Harvard University and develop the company which was later named Micro-Soft with his best friend, Allen.

Micro-Soft is a combination of the words “microcomputer” and “software”. Microsoft’s first product was the BASIC software for the Altair computer, which was a hoax at first but was later realized.

In 1976, according to Gates Notes, the hyphen in the name Micro-Soft was removed so that it became the hyphenless “Microsoft” we know today.

History of Computers and Its Development from Time to Time

Gates served as Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) until 2000. Allen served as the company’s executive vice president for research and new product development until 1983.

After that, Allen left the company for health reasons.

The birth of Windows and the feud with Steve Jobs

Microsoft’s initial business with MITS did not run smoothly. Nevertheless, Gates and Allen did not give up. After working with MITS, the two wrote software in different formats for other companies.

Around the 1980s, the computer industry was also growing rapidly. Companies such as Apple, Intel, and IBM are intensively developing computer components and hardware. Meanwhile, Microsoft remains focused on developing software.

In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to obtain software that could be used on PC computers that it would launch. Microsoft also developed software called MS-DOS. Microsoft sold licenses of the software to IBM and other companies.

Not long ago, around 1981, Apple invited Microsoft to collaborate to develop software on computers made by Apple, the Macintosh. However, this collaboration seems to be the starting point of the feud between Apple founder Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Thanks to the various new knowledge gained during the collaboration, Microsoft developed a new operating system called Windows.

The Windows operating system itself was just launched by Microsoft in 1985. Different from MS-DOS which is only text-based, Windows allows users to use a mouse to operate a graphical interface, display text, and images on a computer screen.

Because Windows is considered similar to the Macintosh operating system that it introduced in 1983, Apple also sued Microsoft. But Microsoft won in court.

The feud and uneasy relationship between Jobs and Gates also continued for quite a long time.

But when Jobs finally died in 2011, Gates said that the two were actually “pushing each other (Microsoft and Apple’s success), even as competitors”, as compiled from Business Insider.

Along the way, Microsoft has developed a variety of new service products outside of the operating system, such as the  Microsoft Office productivity software package (1990) to the Microsoft Azure cloud service (2010).

Then, Microsoft also spread its wings outside the computer operating system business. The company, for example, got into the video game business with the launch of the Xbox series of consoles

In addition, Microsoft also acquired several other technology companies, such as Skype Technologies (2011), Mojang (2014), LinkedIn (2016), to GitHUb (2018).

Become a billionaire at a young age

Since launching the MS-DOS and Windows operating systems, Microsoft has continued to evolve over time.

Microsoft then became a global company. In 1983, Microsoft managed to dominate the operating system market because it was reported that 30 percent of the computers in the world at that time were running their own operating system.

A lapse of eight years after being founded, Microsoft finally took the floor on the stock exchange in March 1986. Initial public offering (IPO) Microsoft for 21 US dollars per share.

At that time, Gates held 45 percent of the total 24.7 million shares of Microsoft. This means that Gates’ ownership of Microsoft is worth 234 million US dollars.

Over time, the company’s shares also increased. In 1987, Microsoft’s stock price penetrated 90.75 US dollars. Forbes notes, Bill Gates’s net worth reaches 1.25 billion US dollars. Gates was named the youngest billionaire at the age of 31 years.

The title of “youngest billionaire” was held by Gates from 1987 to 2010. In 2010, Gates had to pass the title to Mark Zuckerberg who became the youngest billionaire at the age of 23 years.

Furthermore, the name Bill Gates became a regular on the Forbes 400 annual list as the richest person in the US, even the world.

According to the list of The World Real-Time Billionaires released by Forbes as of March 7, 2021, Bill Gates is the fourth richest person in the world with a total net worth of 124.3 billion US dollars or around Rp. 1,776.9 trillion.

Despite living a successful and rich life, Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, will not bequeath all of their wealth to their three children.

Gates’ three children, Rory John, Jennifer Katharine, and Phoebe Adele will reportedly only receive an inheritance of 10 million US dollars (approximately Rp. 142.9 billion).

“It is not good for children if they have large amounts of wealth. It could interfere with any path they might create on their own,” Gates said, as compiled from SFGate.

Generous and care for the environment

Instead of being passed on to their three children, Gates and Melinda will instead give most of their wealth to charity.

Gates and Melinda are known to have founded a private foundation called the William H. Gates Foundation in 1994. The foundation later changed its name to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in 1999.

The BMGF’s main goals are to improve health care and reduce extreme poverty worldwide, as well as expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in the US.

BMGF also supports various social, health and education issues. For example, in the health sector, the BMGF is known to have disbursed 86 million US dollars to eradicate polio in the world.

Most recently, BMGF has also committed to donate 1.75 billion US dollars (around Rp. 25 trillion) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funds will be used to develop vaccines, treatments, medicines, and other things related to Covid-19.

So far, Bill and Melinda are known to have donated nearly US$36 billion (around Rp. 514.6 trillion) to BMGF.

Besides Bill and Melinda, BMGF is also supported by a world-renowned investor, Warren Buffet. In 2006, Buffett said he would donate at least US$37 billion (approximately Rp. 528.9 trillion) of his wealth to the BMGF.

In 2018, BMGF was reported to have an endowment of US$46.8 billion (approximately IDR 669 trillion), making it the largest private foundation in the world.

The charity work carried out by Bill, Melinda, and Buffet is confirmed by the pledge ” The Giving Pledge ” they signed in December 2010.

The Giving Pledge is a pledge to inspire the world’s richest people to donate at least half of their net worth to charity, either during their lifetime or after death.

In 2020, the pledge “The Giving Pledge” has been followed by 211 wealthy people from 23 countries.

Apart from being a well-known philanthropist, Gates is also known to care about environmental issues such as climate change. The Microsoft founder also wrote a book called How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.

He even pushed for a shift from conventional cars to electric cars, as compiled from CBS News. Because, according to Gates, the world needs to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic temperature increases.

Awarded by Queen Elizabeth II

Bill and his wife have done many philanthropic activities and are appreciated by a number of parties. For example, in 2005, Time Magazine named Gates and his wife one of the most influential people of the 20th century. 

That same year, the Queen of England Elizabeth II honored Gates with the knighthood of a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

In 2006, Gates and his wife were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government for their philanthropic activities around the world including health and education.

Then, in 2016, Gates and Melinda’s philanthropic activities were again appreciated. At that time, President Barack named them both recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Bill Gates Profile

  • Full name: William Henry Gates III
  • Popular name: Bill Gates
  • Place and date of birth: Seattle, USA, October 28, 1955
  • Age: 65 years old
  • Wife: Melinda French Gates (married 1994)
  • Children: Jennifer Katharine Gates (24), Rory John Gates (21), and Phoebe Adele Gates (18)
  • Net worth: IDR 1,776.9 trillion according to Forbes as of March 7, 2021.


  • Lakeside School, Seattle (1967-1973)
  • Harvard University majoring in law (1973-1975, not graduated)

Established companies and organizations

  • Microsoft (4 April 1975)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (1994)


  • World’s most influential people by Time Magazine (2005)
  • British knighthood as “Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” by Queen Elizabeth II (2005)
  • Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government (2006)
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama (2016)

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