Gates ranks as the second richest person in the United States and among the top twenty richest people in the world. His net worth in 1995 was estimated at more than $10 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 1993 (Elmer-Dewitt 1995; Caminiti 1993). Gates became a billionaire at 31, making him the youngest American to achieve that status. Gates owns about 30 percent of Microsoft and claims that 90 percent of his net worth is in the company--he owns more than 140 million shares (Elmer-Dewitt 1995; Brandt 19940. Much has been written about Gates's multi-million dollar, three-acre estate that he is building in suburban Seattle, complete with 25-foot vaulted ceilings, underground parking, and an elaborate conference room. Gates defends this extravagance by pointing to the estate's simultaneous function as a technology showcase and a meeting place for Microsoft.
Quittner, J. (1995, June 5). Why Emperor Bill should rule. Time, p. 55.
Microsoft's big break came in the early 1980s, when IBM developed its personal computer (PC). IBM approached Gates about developing an operating system for the PC. Gates licensed the rights to a rudimentary system called Q-DOS, modified it, renamed it Microsoft DOS (MS-DOS), then sold it to IBM. Gates shrewdly convinced IBM to divulge the proprietary elements of its PC, paving the way for the production of hundreds of IBM-clones. This created an eager market for MS-DOS, which helped Microsoft build its present fortune.
nterview Gates recalled: "We realized that the revolution might happen without us. After we saw that article, there was no question of where our life would focus" (Current, 1991, p. 239). The colleagues wrote a BASIC program for the Altair 8800, sold it to the manufacturers, and Gates dropped out of Harvard at the end of his sophomore year. Soon after, he and Allen established the Microsoft Corporation, which was first headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico then moved to Bellevue, Washington.