For years now, Bill Gates has been one of the wealthiest people on the planet and a highly successful businessman. The Microsoft founder has a net worth of over $120 billion, but he's also well-known for his philanthropic work and interest in social issues.
Gates was born in 1955 in Seattle and grew up in a financially stable middle-class family. His mother, Mary, was a stay-at-home parent, while his father was a lawyer. Gates seemed to struggle educationally, so his parents sent him to an exclusive private school where he thrived.
Whilst at school, he became obsessed with computers and what they had the potential to do, even coding his own games. He enrolled at Harvard and began studying law, but to his parents' horror, he dropped out after a couple of years to focus on Microsoft, the company he had founded with his school friend Paul Allen.
The company had a shaky start, in no small part because many computer owners were unwilling to pay for software when so much of what was in the market was free. Nevertheless, after just four years, Microsoft was grossing around $2.5 million. At 23, Gates was the head of the company and a diligent boss, reading and amending every line of code the company put out.
In 1983, Microsoft went global and around 30% of the world's computers ran using its software. 1985 saw the release of Windows, rivalling Apple's Macintosh system. Gates was also gaining a reputation for ruthlessness, both with competitors and his own staff, who found his confrontational management style intimidating.
In 1989, the company launched Microsoft Office and sold 100,000 copies in the first two weeks. Throughout the 90s, Microsoft was regularly taken to court and accused of unfair deals, such as forcing computer manufacturers to sell their Internet Explorer software or go without the Windows operating system.
In 2000, Gates stepped down as the head of Microsoft and became its chief software designer instead. In 2006 he went part-time in order to focus on his philanthropic work, and he left altogether in 2008. Since then he has dedicated much of his time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which the couple had set up in 1994.
Despite his 'difficult' management style, Gates has to be admired for his ability to think big and the time and money he has spent on good causes.
Gates became obsessed with computers at school
He dropped out of Harvard to focus on launching Microsoft
He was ruthless with his competitors
Microsoft became incredibly successful under his leadership
He left the company to focus on charitable work