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Bill Gates: a history at Microsoft

Gates has stepped down as chairman of Microsoft to take a more active role in the business.
The Telegraph looks back over his time at Microsoft so far.
Microsoft has announced that Bill Gates will step down as chairman of the board of directors
at Microsoft, and will assume a new role on the board as 'founder and technology advisor'. In his new
role, Gates will return to Microsoft for an estimated three days a week to support the new chief
executive, Satya Nadella, in shaping technology and product direction.
Gates has been under pressure to step down as Microsoft chairman for some time. Reuters
reported in October 2013 that investors were concerned that Gates' role as chairman effectively
blocked the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make
substantial changes.
They were also worried that Gates who spends most of his time on his philacnthropic
foundation wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding. However, the changes
announced today by Microsoft suggest that, far from relinquishing his hold on Microsoft, Gates will
be getting more involved in the day-to-day running of the company he founded nearly 40 years ago.
Gates had an interest in computer programming from a young age, and pursued his passion
throughout college. In 1975, together with his childhood friend Paul Allen, Gates developed a version
of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer the MITS Altair 8800.
Gates and Allen approached MITS with their creation, and the company agreed to distribute it
as 'Altair BASIC'. Paul Allen was hired into MITS, and Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard
to work with him in Albuquerque in November 1975. They officially established Microsoft' on 4
April 1975, with Gates as the CEO. Gates never returned to Harvard.
Microsoft became independent of MITS in late 1976, but continued to develop programming
language software for various systems. The company moved from Albuquerque to Bellevue,
Washington, on 1 January 1979.
During Microsoft's early years, all employees had broad responsibility for the company's
business. Gates oversaw the business details, but continued to write code as well. In the first five
years, he personally reviewed every line of code the company shipped, and often rewrote parts of it as
he saw fit.
IBM approached Microsoft in July 1980 to provide the operating system for its upcoming
personal computer. For this deal, Microsoft bought a system called 86-DOS from a company called
Seattle Computer Products and, after adapting it for the PC, delivered it to IBM as 'PC DOS' in
exchange for a one-time fee of $50,000.
However, Gates did not offer to transfer the copyright on the operating system, because he
believed that other hardware companies would clone IBM's system. He was right, and the sales of PC
DOS made Microsoft a major player in the industry. Despite IBM's name on the operating system,
Gates was quickly identified as 'the man behind the machine'.