Bill Gates, most famous for being the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation and one-time richest man in the world, has gone from tech wizard to billion-dollar philanthropist. With so many contenders on the billionaires' list, how much capital does Mr. Gates have now?
Gates along with childhood friend Paul Allen founded Microsoft on April 4, 1975. Originally based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it eventually relocated to Washington state in 1979.
Microsoft, specializing in computers and supported software, grew to become a major multinational technology company. One of the biggest leaps on the ladder of success for Microsoft came on Nov. 6, 1980, when IBM made a contract stating it would pay Microsoft $430,000 (around $1.5 million today, inflation-adjusted).
The contract agreed to Microsoft putting its Disk Operating System (DOS) on IBM's new Personal Computer.
The key point in the contract was one that enabled Microsoft to license the operating system to other manufacturers, a nonexclusive agreement that IBM agreed to in part because it was embroiled in years of ongoing antitrust investigations and litigation.
IBM's loss would be Microsoft's greatest gain, allowing the company the capacity to grow into one of the biggest tech companies of the 1980s. This opened the door to partnerships with Tandy and Commodore, which further boosted both Mircosoft's market dominance and brand awareness.
It was this period of the decade that Microsoft saw the biggest increase in revenue, rising from $16 million in 1981 (about $45.5 million today) to $140 million in 1985 ($335.5 million today).
On March 13, 1986, Microsoft went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange, selling 2.9 million shares at $21 each, raising $61 million. Shares closed at $28 on first day of trading, making a 31-year-old Gates and his 11.1 million shares worth $310 million, marking his debut on the Forbes 400 with $318 million.
By 1987, Gates was officially declared a billionaire in Forbes' 400 Richest People in America issue, just days before his 32nd birthday. He was also officially the world's youngest self-made billionaire with a net worth of $1.25 billion, over $900 million more than he was worth in 1986.
1994 was a landmark year for Gates, who at the age of 38 became the richest man in America with a wealth of $9.35 billion. It's around this time that his company began to enter the commercial consumer market, with Microsoft Windows as the flagship product with sales reaching $3.7 billion, making it a household name.
1995 was the year that Gates entered a new stratosphere of wealth and success. Not wanting to miss the boat, Gates prepared staff via an internal memo for an "internet tidal wave." This move was made in hopes for Microsoft to place itself at the forefront of the worldwide web industry.
It was also in 1995 that Gates was named the richest person in the world, with a fortune of $12.9 billion. After the release of Windows 95, Microsoft sales reached $6 billion.
In 2008, Gates decided to step down from his senior role at Microsoft, instead choosing to put his energy into philanthropy, along with his wife, Melinda.
Despite now owning just 1 percent of Microsoft shares - which is around $7.3 billion - he is still one of the richest people on the planet with a net worth of around $108.4 billion.