It's good to be Bill Gates. He's smart and one of the richest men on the planet. Oh yeah, he's the most generous guy you will ever meet, giving away at last count $28 billion to help fight hunger and disease around the globe. Not bad for a guy who dropped out of Harvard and founded the world's largest computer software company, Microsoft [source: Forbes].
Gates' generosity could not have occurred if he wasn't the preeminent technological visionary of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It's not hyperbole to say that Gates turned the world of computing upside down.
As a child growing up in Seattle, Gates loved to read books. He flourished in all his subjects, especially math and science at Seattle's Lakeside High School, an exclusive prep school. His fascination with computers would be the driving force behind his life. While in high school, Gates became friends with Paul Allen. When Gates was 15, the pair went into business together, developing a computer program that kept an eye on Seattle's traffic patterns. Gates eventually went to Harvard to study law, but what he loved was the computer lab. He would eventually drop out of Harvard and team with Allen, who dropped out of Washington State University [source: Biography.com].
After working at Honeywell, the pair formed Microsoft and designed its Windows operating system. Back in the day, people used MS-DOS commands to access information on their computers. Windows provided the world with an easy to use substitute. Windows allowed PC users to point their mouse and click their way through screens or "windows." Gates not only knew about software and product development, be he knew how to turn Microsoft into a corporate giant. Often confrontational, Gates challenged his employees to be creative [source: Biography.com].
The rest, as they say, is history.
Author's Note: 5 Technologists Who Have Benefited Humankind
The world brims with technological visionaries. It always has. Listing who are the top five, 10 or 1,000, for that matter, is subjective. This is not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination. For example, Albert Einstein is not on here. He gave us many theories including one that led to nuclear power, and perhaps one day, time travel. Jonas Salk isn't on here, either. Yet, he saved millions, perhaps billions, of lives by inventing the polio vaccine. You get the picture. So, let us know who you think should be on the list and why.
More Great Links
- Biography.com. "Bill Gates. (Aug. 17, 2012). http://www.biography.com/people/bill-gates-9307520?page=6
- Biography.com. "Larry Page." (Aug. 16, 2012). http://www.biography.com/people/larry-page-12103347
- Cern.ch. "The website of the world's first-ever web server." (Aug. 15, 2012). http://info.cern.ch/
- Forbes.com. "Bill Gates." (Aug. 17, 2012). http://www.forbes.com/profile/bill-gates/
- Forbes.com. "Steve Jobs." (Aug. 16, 2012). http://www.forbes.com/profile/steve-jobs/
- Griggs, Brandon. "Steve Jobs, Apple founder, dies." CNN. Oct. 5, 2011. (Aug. 17, 2012). http://articles.cnn.com/2011-10-05/us/us_obit-steve-jobs_1_jobs-and-wozniak-iphone-apple-founder?_s=PM:US
- Invent.org. "Meet the 2008 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees." (Aug. 15, 2012). http://www.invent.org/2008induction/1_3_08_induction_hoover.asp
- Milian, Mark. "The best tidbits from Steve Jobs bio." CNN. Oct. 24, 2011. (Aug. 17, 2012). http://articles.cnn.com/2011-10-24/tech/tech_innovation_steve-jobs-biography_1_steve-jobs-bio-adoption-papers-vatican?_s=PM:TECH
- MIT.com. "Erna Schneider Hoover: Computerized telephone switching system." (Aug. 15, 2012). http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/hoover.html
- MIT.com. "Radia Pearlman: "Spanning Tree Algorithm." (Aug. 16, 2012). http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/perlman.html
- Steinhauer, Jennifer. "A Literary Legend Fights for a Local Library." The New York Times. June 19, 2009. (Aug. 15, 2012). http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/20/us/20ventura.html?_r=4
Luis Alvarez was involved in many scientific exploits, from the Manhattan Project to discovering hidden pyramid chambers. Learn more at HowStuffWorks.