One of the renowned successful tech entrepreneurs of the 21st century, Bill Gates brought a much-needed revolution in the software industry through Microsoft. Having been accoladed amongst the richest men on earth, Gates has been credited as a digital demagogue and visionary who transformed a two-man start-up into a multi-billion dollar empire. Along with Paul Allen, he co-founded Microsoft and dropped out of Harvard University to devote himself fully as he found himself bewildered by the massive potential of personal computers! Though you might have heard Gates’ dropout story many times, it was his academic journey that laid the right foundation for his interest in computers which later made him passionate about the possibilities computer software can bring to the digital world. Through this blog, let’s take you through the quest of education of Bill Gates, his academic milestones as well as how he manifested his love towards computers into what we today call as “Microsoft”!
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
Unravelling the Story Behind “Microsoft”
The most unique thing about Bill Gates’ success story is that not only that he strived towards innovating new technologies but also by adapting the existing technologies to a specific market and then paving his path through inventive promotional strategies as well as keen business acumen. Working with the vision of creating “a computer for every desktop and which can be found in every home” which many called farfetched, Gates along with his childhood friend Paul Allen established the world’s software giant, Microsoft. He envisioned the place of personal technology in the future and brought it to life in the present century. The education of Bill Gates played an incremental role in actualising his passion for technology, so let’s delve deeper on how his academic journey actually began.
“I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot.”
Born on October 28, 1955, in an upper-middle-class family to William H. Gates and Mary Maxwell, William Henry Gates III a.k.a Bill Gates was brought up in Seattle, Washington with two sisters, the older Kristianne and younger Libby. Both William and Mary encouraged the kids towards a healthier competition and nurtured within them a strive for excellence. One of the key features of the education of Bill Gates is that he was a voracious reader. As an 11-year old, he loved reference books, especially the world encyclopedia. Also, he used to organise family athletic games at their summer home. He was always close to his mother, who started as a teacher but then decided to spend more time with the kids and focusing on civic affairs and getting involved with charities. Mary Maxwell also was a part of various corporate boards such as the First Interstate Bank in Seattle and International Business Machines (IBM). Bill would seldom accompany his mother when she volunteered at several community organisations and schools.
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“We make the future sustainable when we invest in the poor, not when we insist on their suffering.”
As the young Bill stayed all by himself during his early years in school, bored and withdrawn which worried his parents about his tendency to become a loner. So, when he turned 13, they enrolled him into city’s famed preparatory Lakeside School which is where he found himself getting inclined towards computer programming when he spent most of his time on a General Electric computer in BASIC away from the regular classes. At this stage of the education of Bill Gates, he shined as an excellent student with high scores in almost every discipline, especially Math, Science and English.
“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”
During his years at Lakeside school, he created his first computer program which was actually a unique version of Tic Tac Toe in which one could compete against the computer. Later on, he met Paul Allen, and they were given the task to locate bugs in the PDP-10 system at the Computer Center Corporation. With two other students, Allen and Gates also prepared a payroll program for the school’s Department of Information Sciences in order to facilitate an exchange for computer time and royalties. Since he was already a brilliant student, at this point of the education of Bill Gates, his school nurtured his passion towards programming and they asked him to make a program for scheduling classes for students.
“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
At the age of 15, Gate and Allen were ready to kick into their business shoes. Together they created Traf-O-Data which is a program that measured and assessed the traffic flow in the city of Seattle. Moving on towards the concluding stage of the education of Bill Gates, he scored a whopping 1590 out of 1600 in his SAT exam and went on to join Harvard University in Autumn of 1973 to study law as he wished to follow his father’s footsteps. He later admitted that he preferred playing video games and poker while bunking classes.
“Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.”
Just a year later during the college education of Bill Gates, Allen came across a magazine article which talked about the first microcomputer, i.e. the Altair 8800. He showed the article to Gates and they found it as a shining opportunity to utilise their knack of programming. The two called the computer’s manufacturer, MITS which was situated in New Mexico, and proposed the idea of providing their version of BASIC for the microcomputer. He actually agreed but the only issue was that this version was not yet created. So, Gates and Allen started their work in Harvard’s computer lab and since they weren’t familiar with how Altair operated, they focused on preparing the program by simulating it on different computers. Then, once the program was finished, they went to Albuquerque to the head office to test if it worked on the Altair. Though they were oblivious if it would run. But it actually turned out well and it was at this point that Gates made his decision to drop out of Harvard. He and Allen came to live in Albuquerque which is the city where Microsoft came into being. One interesting fact about their time here was that both Gates and Allen wrote software for varied start-ups such as Tandy Cop, Commodore as well as Apple.
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“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”
Career Lessons to Learn from Bill Gates
Imagine a 13-year old boy hunched over the computer entranced by the world inside it! Fast-forward to a decade later, the same boy with his best friend founded the computer phenomena which they called Micro-soft, a brilliant amalgamation of the two words, Microcomputer and Software. Now that you know what the journey of education of Bill Gates was like, let’s dive into the pool of wisdom he imparted to the world through his incredible story!
- Always Keep Your Eyes on The Goal: Once in his interview with Daily Mail, Gates said that he never actually took a day-off during his twenties. Moreover, he has always emphasised the importance of perseverance in the journey to achieve success. That’s why having a persistent attitude towards one’s goals is amongst the perfect approach to actualise them.
- Don’t Be Afraid of Risks: One of the key milestones in the education of Bill Gates happened when he took a major risk to leave Harvard and work towards creating a computer program for the Altair. If he hadn’t taken that risk, the invention of Microsoft would not have followed that. So, taking risks can not only make you learn something new but will also teach you to always strive towards the extraordinary things in life.
- Focus on Collaboration, Not Competition!: Another significant lesson to learn from Bill Gates’ success story is the power of partnerships! It was his collaboration with Paul Allen that they both followed their love towards computers and further, proposing their ideas to the Altair actually helped them learn more about microcomputers. Thus, rather than running the rat race, find those who share your goals and facilitate amazing collaborations that can change the world!
- There is No Shortcut to Success: Gates grew up at a time when people were still understanding emerging computing technologies. The school education of Bill Gates actually encouraged his curiosity towards computers but he still had to work exhaustively to bring his vision of personal computers to reality. Hence, everyone has to follow a long journey to manifest their dreams and amidst all of it, you must remember that there is no shortcut and the only thing that will get you through it all is your unrelenting strive towards your goal!
Inspired by Bill Gates’ Amazing Success Story? Let’s Explore What It Takes for a Career in Computer Science Engineering!
Thus, we hope that this blog elaborating the quest of education of Bill Gates has helped you glance into his journey from being a skinny teen in love with computers to envisioning the revolution that personal computers would bring to the digital world. We at Leverage Edu also aim to nurture future world leaders by providing them with the much-needed career guidance that can help them strive towards their passions. Sign up for a 30-minute free career counselling session with our experienced counsellors and let us assist you in making an informed decision to actualise your dream career!