Bill Gates: An Important Visionary for Better or Worse

Having an imagination is a virtue. Imagining an entirely new way to communicate and interact with others through a machine is amazing in itself. Bill Gates is not only the richest man in the world, but some consider him as the most ingenious too. Others see him as a monopolizing, money hungry nerd. William Gates III was born in Seattle, Washington in 1955. When he was thirteen, he wrote his first software program, which enabled him and his friends to play tic-tac-toe. While Gates was attending Harvard, his best friend Paul Allen showed him the newest electronic hardware system in Popular Electronics magazine.

A man named Ed Roberts had invented the first prototype for a personal computer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was the Altair 8800. Gates and Allen had been waiting for this their entire lives, and wanted to be a part of it. Together, they created a computer language they hoped the Altair could understand. Allen went to Albuquerque to see if their hard work had paid off. Gates worried that companies would not take them seriously and question their credibility. On the other hand, MITS, the company who produced the Altair, was astonished and gave them their own Altair 8800.

At the age of nineteen, Gates dropped out of Harvard and co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen. Microsoft started in a hotel room in Albuquerque with Gates and Allen as co-founders. They hired a few others, who helped perfect their binary system and get it out on the market. After a year or two of working with this language, they were not making a big profit. They felt that Microsoft needed a change. Gates and Allen moved to Seattle in 1980 and teamed up with Harvard roommate Steve Ballmer. In August of 1980 the three men went to IBMs corporate office in Miami, Florida to offer them a disc operating system.

They convinced IBM that they needed DOS to compete with Apple. What IBM didnt know was that Gates didnt have a disc operating system. Microsoft bought the product and idea afterwards from a small company in Texas for $50,000, improved it, then brought it to IBM as their own. IBM purchased DOS from Microsoft for $125,000. IBM called the system PC-DOS. Gates spent a hectic year perfecting the operating software that controls the IBM PC (People Weekly, 36). In the contract, it stated that Microsoft had the right to license DOS to other companies as well.

We gave IBM a fabulous deal-a low, one time fee that granted the company the right to use Microsofts operating system on as many computers as it could sell. This offered IBM an incentive to push MS-DOS, and to sell it inexpensively (Gates, 49). This put Microsoft in the business of licensing a software platform to the personal computer industry (Gates, 49). DOS then became the standard software in all personal computers except one, the Apple. Apple Company produced the Apple personal computer. Apple Company was co-founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in a garage in Berkley, California, in 1976.

Jobs was a great talker like Gates, but didnt have half of the ideas. The mastermind behind Apple was Wozniak. The first Apple computer competed with the Altair, but blew it, and all the others, out of the water. When IBM saw the personal computer that Apple had produced, that is when they bought DOS from Microsoft. IBM figured they could compete with Apple and take over the market. In 1983, when Apple came out with the Lisa, Gates saw what an amazing invention it was and wanted access to it. Gates went to Steve Jobs, and convinced him that he could help make Apples graphic operating system.

When Gates went to work for Apple, Jobs gave him a copy of the newest Apple prototype, the Macintosh. Gates worked with Apple, but at the same time he was working on Windows. Since IBM and most of the other computer companies were working with Gates, Microsoft programs, such as Microsoft Word for DOS, came out with their new computers. Gates basically stole Apples graphic interface and Icons, to make them the start of Windows. The Macintosh PC came out in 1984, but the first Windows came out in 1983.

Consumers would rather have a cheaper IBM computer with Windows, than a more expensive, yet nicer looking Macintosh, since they both had the same software. Steve Jobs was fired the next year. Microsoft went on to develop Windows 95 through Windows XP. Steve Jobs went back to Apple in 1997 and came together with Bill Gates. At the unveiling of the news that Apple gave in to Microsoft, Steve Jobs told the world, Thank you Bill. The world is a better place(Booth, 34). In turn, this merger made Bill Gates the richest man in the world. Today, Gates has resigned from being chief executive officer of Microsoft.

He chose to revel in making software again as the chief software architect. On May 18, 1999, the U. S. Department of Justice and twenty states filed antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft Corporation. They claimed that Microsofts business practices violated the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890; which is designed to protect consumers and not allow fixed priced or rigging bids. Basically they claimed that Microsoft was a monopoly. Microsoft defends this charge by saying that the lawsuit will hurt consumers by distracting the company from technological advances.

Competitors claim that Microsoft pressures vendors to choose its Internet Explorer over Netscape Navigator. Gates argues that Netscapes longtime dominance in the browser market only proves that the company didnt have any trouble distributing their product. When asked why he didnt want the government to include Netscapes browser as well as Microsofts with Windows, Gates replied The government was trying to advantage a competitor of ours. Thats really unprecedented. Netscape was able to get the government working on its behalf(Isaacson, 58). The history behind the case is that Microsoft has had run ins with the law before.

In 1990, the Federal Trade Commission launched a non-public investigation into the partnership that Microsoft had with IBM. Later, in 1984, Microsoft and the Department of Justice came to an agreement, and in return the Department of Justice dropped its investigation. They came to an agreement in the case where Microsoft had eased restrictiveness on the contracts it had with PC manufacturers. Specifically, PC manufacturers could no longer be forced to pay Microsoft a licensing fee for PCs shipped without the Windows operating system. The governments view on the case is that Microsoft is a monopoly.

The companys behavior has been bad for the consumers, and has entered into unfair and illegal contracts with PC manufacturers. The bundling of Internet Explorer into Windows 98 was illegal and was made to put Netscape out of business. The government also mentions that Microsoft tried to convince Netscape to divide the browser market. The accusations by the government lead people to believe that Microsoft is the Darth Vader of computer technology. Microsoft says that since production costs are so low, at any time in the software business, one person can create an operating system, which in turn, can become a competitor overnight.

Microsoft also says that customers buy Windows because it offers multiple technological benefits, compared to a stand-alone browser such as Netscapes Navigator. Microsoft argues that PC makers work with Windows because it can be modified, and any extra software can easily be installed. Both of the arguments stated are convincing. The case between the government and Microsoft is like no other. The government believes that Microsoft has gone extreme measures to find Microsoft guilty and right now they are trying to find out how Microsoft should be punished.

The political right of an individual to his own life is an essential principle of liberty. And it rests on the moral rightness of acting to sustain ones own life, which includes generating the material wealth life requires (Bernstein, K3970). Bill Gates may seem like a horrible man to many of his competitors, but his contribution to the world of computers has been enormous. His biggest accomplishment as far as Microsoft goes is not just creating good software, but because he knew that software was the way to make the most money. It is the reason more people use the Microsoft operating system than any other.

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