Careers

How Bill Gates, the world's richest man, got his start

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, at age 32, in a meeting on January 1, 1988.
Robert Burroughs/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, at age 32, in a meeting on January 1, 1988.

With the exception of a few hours last month when he was briefly eclipsed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has maintained a firm hold on the title of the world's richest individual.

His road to riches began when he was a tech-obsessed 13-year-old student at Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington. As Gates recalled in a 2005 speech, the school's "mothers club came up with the money to buy a teletype that connected over the phone lines with a GE time-sharing computer."

That machine effectively changed his life. He spent as much time as he could learning about computers, hacking and coding. He and a school friend named Paul Allen bonded over their love of technology. They would later co-found Microsoft.

Here's a comprehensive infographic created by Funders and Founders designer Anna Vital that explores Gates' incredibly journey:

Infographic source: fundersandfounders.com

In 2000, Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft, and in 2014, he stepped down as chairman.

Today, he runs one of the world's biggest nonprofits with his wife, former Microsoft executive and philanthropist Melinda Gates. In his spare time, he meets with experts, reads books voraciously and speaks about the future of human life, technology and the environment.

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