navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies School and Family
Biographies Unit Biographies

William Henry “Bill” Gates, III 1955-
Computer Software Entrepreneur

Bill Gates's love of computers started when he was in seventh grade at Seattle's Lakeside School. There, he met his friend Paul Allen. The two friends shared an interest in computers and in entrepreneurship. In high school, they started their first company, Traf-O-Data. The company analyzed local traffic patterns.

Gates was at Harvard College in 1975 when Allen showed him a magazine article about a new machine called the microcomputer. Gates was fascinated. He knew what he wanted to do with his life: design the best computer software in the world. To achieve this goal, the two friends started a new company that came to be known as Microsoft. The company's software innovations have allowed people with no computer experience to use personal computers.

Today, we rely on computers for communicating, banking, and working. Microsoft leads the global software industry, and Gates has become one of the world's wealthiest people. He uses much of his wealth to help others. In 2000, he and his wife started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation funds global health and learning programs.

Comprehension Check

Why did Bill Gates and Paul Allen start Microsoft?

Critical Thinking

In what ways has Bill Gates changed the world? Explain your answer.