American businessman, philanthropist and author, William “Bill” Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with his friend, Paul Allen. From the onset, Gates’ dream was to lead the company to a technology revolution, making the dreams of every family to own a personal computer come true.
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Birth of Microsoft
Gates, then aged 20 and Allen, 22, began to market a basic programming language, originally called “Micro-Soft”. This led to the foundation of Microsoft, the largest PC software company in the world today. It’s part of everyday life for millions of people – most of the world’s computers run a Windows-based operating system. However, in the mid-1970s, personal computers as we know them today didn’t exist. They were large and cumbersome, looking more like a gaming console with a keyboard attached.
Gates decided to design a new operating system and through a stroke of genius struck up a deal with IBM to charge a license fee for its use, rather than selling it outright to the computer giant – meaning that every computer that IBM sold would run a Microsoft operating system. This had a huge effect on consumers, as computing at last became affordable for the masses.
Windows was first launched in 1985 but the early version, Windows 1.0, was nothing like the interface we use today. A decade later, the launch of Windows 95 set a new benchmark. Launched on 24th August 1995, it began the revolution that shaped the world of technology as we know it today.
It introduced features such as the start menu and taskbar, with the software taking massive leaps forward in terms of graphic design. Home computers became more affordable and consumers began to realise their potential. Windows 95 was followed by Internet Explorer, the first web browser for many consumers, who were now able to search for information and catch up online with friends all over the world.
Computer sales boomed – the Office for National Statistics stated one-quarter of British households had a computer in 1995 and this had doubled by 2001.
An updated version with new features, Windows XP was launched in 2001 but with one constant trend – usability. Microsoft Office has become one of the most widely-used software packages in the world and includes most of the programs needed to complete work throughout the day.
Gates has also supported many philanthropic endeavours, having donated a vast amount of money to charitable organisations and scientific research programs. He established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife in 2000. In 2007, they donated more than $28 billion to charities, making them America’s second-most generous philanthropists.
Gates has personally donated money to educational institutions, including $20 million in 1999 to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a new computer laboratory, the William H Gates Building.
Despite being the world’s richest man, as noted in Forbes’s annual list of billionaires, even a great entrepreneur needs advice sometimes, particularly about search engine optimisation (SEO). In 2010, Gates’ blog was lower in Google rankings than fake Bill Gates blogs that had sprung up online.
An article in the Guardian newspaper gave Gates free advice, such as changing the blog’s title from The Gates Notes to one that exploited the fact it was the only official Bill Gates blog. Every page on Gates’ website had the same title, even though they were about different topics, which was also criticised for reducing people’s chances of locating the information being put out.
Gates was also advised to make use of incoming links, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation home page, which didn’t contain a link to his blog. The article suggested Gates’ team should be more clued up about SEO in order to maximise the blog’s success.
Not everyone can achieve the top spot but harnessing the powers of SEO to make a website easier to find when people search for it should be a priority – not only for Bill Gates but also for millions of other users.