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Bill Gates
"I will dedicate myself nearly 100% to software"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 January, 2000, 03:29 GMT
Profile: Bill Gates

bill gates A beaming Bill Gates after announcing his new role


Bill Gates's decision to focus on Microsoft's software development returns the world's richest man to his roots in programming.

The one-time high-school computer fan - now worth about $80bn - told a surprise news conference that by standing down as company chief executive he would be able to immerse himself in the work he loves most.



Steve's promotion will allow me to dedicate myself full time to my passion - building great software
Bill Gates
Mr Gates, 44, has come to be known for his aggressive business tactics and confrontational style of management.

But programming was a passion which consumed him as a teenager, and one which he later dropped out of Harvard University - where he met Steve Ballmer - to pursue full time.

Early years

The second of three children in a prominent Seattle family, Mr Gates began computing as a 13-year-old at the city's Lakeside school.

By the age of 17, he had sold his first programme - a timetabling system for the school, earning him $4,200.

It was at Lakeside that he met Paul Allen, a student two years his senior who shared his fascination with computers.

After Mr Gates stint at Harvard, the two teamed up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in 1975 established Microsoft, so-called because it provided microcomputer software.

Five years passed before an agreement was signed to provide the operating system that became known as MS-DOS for IBM's new personal computer.

In a contractual masterstroke, Microsoft was allowed to licence the operating system to other manufacturers, spawning an industry of "IBM-compatible" personal computers dependent on Microsoft's operating system.

In 1986, Microsoft stock went public and a year later, Mr Gates had become the world's youngest self-made billionaire at the age of 31.

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See also:
13 Jan 00 |  Business
New Microsoft boss
13 Jan 00 |  Business
Steve Ballmer, friend of Bill
22 Oct 99 |  Sci/Tech
Gates on 'future without Microsoft'
22 Jul 98 |  The Company File
Microsoft's new president

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