In a recent "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit, Gates was asked, "When did you consider yourself a success?"
"There are many domains to be successful in," the billionaire responded. He then highlighted three of his most memorable achievements: "I was a success in getting good grades and test scores in high school," he wrote. "I was a success at writing good code by my early 20s. The dream of the PC being an enabling tool came true by the 1990s."
Gates explains that he became tech-obsessed at age 13 and spent much of his time learning basic programming followed by machine learning. "By the time I was 16, I got a job programming at TRW [a firm that developed military and civil space systems], which helped me learn even more (skipping part of my senior year)," he wrote. "I was lucky to have something I loved to do and which became more important in the years ahead."
While there have been time he's doubted his skills, Gates wrote that "programming is one I have always had a lot of confidence in."
His track record supports this: While studying at Harvard, Gates and his college friend Paul Allen created a programming language for the world's first commercial computer Altair. Their work so impressed Altair's makers that the two were offered jobs within the company. This was the start of a business partnership between Gates and Allen, who would go on to found Microsoft in their early 20s.
At age 26, Gates became a millionaire and in 1987, just months before his 31st birthday, he became a billionaire. As personal computers became increasingly popular in the 90s, Microsoft reinforced its position as a dominant tool with the release of Microsoft Office.
During last year's Reddit AMA, Gates was asked how he defines success. "Warren Buffett has always said the measure [of success] is whether the people close to you are happy and love you," Gates explained. "It is also nice to feel like you made a difference — inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need."
Since stepping down as Microsoft CEO in 2000, Gates has focused much of his time on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he works on global healthcare, education and poverty.
As for his future goals, the billionaire tells Reddit users this: "Now I am working on being a good father and the ambitious goals of the Foundation including getting rid of polio and malaria. I think it is always good to have goals where your success is in doubt and I have that in many areas including the work I do on climate change."
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