Bill Gates biography: Salary and career history of Microsoft's co-founder

The lowdown on Bill Gates' salary, net worth, education and career history

Bill Gates by Masaru Kamikura on Flickr

Bill Gates is one of most recognisable names in the tech world and has been instrumental driving the sector forward. Anyone who has ever used a computer is guaranteed to have come into contact with software created by Microsoft.

After re-claiming his spot as the world's richest man in 2014, and returning to an active role at the company he co-founded, we take a look back at his career and achievements.

Full name: William Henry "Bill" Gates III

Date of birth: 28 October, 1955

Advertisement - Article continues below

Nationality: US

Net worth: $79.2 billion (June 2014)

Salary: If you take into account tax and drill down his earnings, Gates makes over $100 per second.

Education: With an IQ of 160, Gates is classified as a genius. It's not a surprise to find out he scored 1590 out of 1600 in his college SATs. He dropped out of Harvard University aged 20 and returned over 30 years later to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2007.

Best known for: Being the co-founder of Microsoft and the richest man in the world. Gates is also a philanthropist and is known for his charitable work in Africa, particularly his efforts to eradicate diseases such as Polio.

Current role: Technology advisor on the Microsoft board.

Career history: Gates broke into the tech world by writing a BASIC program for the Altair computer system in partnership with his friend Paul Allen.

He dropped out of Harvard to set up a company called Microsoft (originally Micro-Soft) with Allen in 1975.

At age 23, Gates spearheaded Microsoft and the company grossed $2.5million in 1978.  

Microsoft's progress to tech giant began in 1980 when IBM was looking for software to use on its forthcoming Personal Computer (PC) system.

Advertisement - Article continues below

This article was originally published on 06/03/2014 and has been updated multiple times (most recently on 13/11/14).

Gates purchased software for $50,000 and adapted it to run on IBM's hardware. Known as MS-DOS, IBM attempted to buy the source code, but Gates refused. Being a savvy businessman he asked IBM to pay a licensing fee for every PC which was going to use the software. This allowed the firm to license software to any PC manufacturer, and the revenue model is still used today.

In 1985, Gates and Microsoft launched its first operating system with a graphical user interface (GUI). Known as Windows it came to market nearly two years after being announced.

In 1986, Microsoft went public with an initial public offering (IPO) of $21 per share. In 1987, Gates became a billionaire when the share price increased to over $90 per share.

The Microsoft Office product suite was released in 1989 and under Gates' tenure the Windows operating system was refreshed every couple of years.

Gates stepped down from the day-to-day operations in 2000. He handed over the reigns to college friend and 20 year Microsoft veteran Steve Ballmer.

He remained chairman of the board but he began to focus more on his charitable work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2006, Gates revealed he would be leaving Microsoft to focus on his charity work full-time. His last full day at Microsoft was on 27 June 2008.

Gates made the announcement that he would be stepping down as Microsoft chairman and move into a new position as technology adviser in February 2014.

Interesting fact: Gates was arrested in Albuquerque in 1977 for running a red light and driving without a license. It spawned quite the mugshot.

Featured Resources

The IT Pro guide to Windows 10 migration

Everything you need to know for a successful transition

Download now

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Software-defined storage for dummies

Control storage costs, eliminate storage bottlenecks and solve storage management challenges

Download now

6 best practices for escaping ransomware

A complete guide to tackling ransomware attacks

Download now


Microsoft Windows

Windows 7 security patches officially coming to an end

21 Mar 2019

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13in review: Almost the perfect laptop

6 Dec 2019

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15in review: Ryzen falls

4 Dec 2019

The IT Pro Podcast: Is the future multi-cloud?

29 Nov 2019

Most Popular

identity and access management (IAM)

44 million Microsoft customers found using compromised passwords

6 Dec 2019
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft, not Amazon, is going to win the cloud wars

30 Nov 2019
Microsoft Windows

This exploit could give users free Windows 7 updates beyond 2020

9 Dec 2019

Five signs that it’s time to retire IT kit

29 Nov 2019