Whenever the world's richest people are discussed, one name nonchalantly comes to mind – Bill Gates. The 65-year old has been on the list of world's richest person from 1995 till 2008.
Gates became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in history at age 31; holding the title until 2008, when 23-year-old, Mark Zuckerberg, dethroned him.
At present the Microsoft co-founder ranks third in the list of world's richest people with a gargantuan net worth of $131 billion. Currently, Bill Gates owns about 1% of the world's biggest software maker. The rest of his fortune is managed through closely held Cascade Investment, which controls stakes in dozens of publicly traded companies, including Canadian National Railway, Deere and Ecolab.
Bill Gates got an early start to building his fortune. At just 17, he sold his first computer program, a timetabling system, to his private high school for $4,200. The path of Bill Gates' brobdingnagian billion dollar fortune had a rather humble beginning but grew exponentially over time as technology boomed.
1975: Humble beginnings of a herculean enterprise
From his dorm room in Harvard University, a 20-year old Bill Gates called MITS, the maker of the world's first personal computer. He offered to develop software for the MITS Altair. MITS eventually accepts and buys his language for $3,000 plus royalties.
The same year, Gates takes his first leave of absence from Harvard University - two years after enrollment to start working on the software venture with his childhood friend Paul Allen founded. Bill referred to the venture as Micro-Soft.
In 1976, Gates and Allen register the trademark "Microsoft." Gates wrote an open letter to computer hobbyists, condemning the early adopters for sharing, rather than paying for, software.
Bill Gates took a second leave of absence from Harvard in 1977 and sets up Microsoft in Albuquerque, NM, where MITS is headquartered.
1978: Microsoft's millionth
Microsoft's year-end sales exceed $1 million in 1978, by this time Gates had already gotten a reputation for being tough, but focused. A year later, Microsoft headquarters is relocated to Bellevue, Washington, a suburb of Gates' hometown, Seattle.
1981: The DOS of business, and Bill's first million
Microsoft incorporated and bought the rights to the operating system "DOS" from Seattle Computer Products in 1981.
The system is modified and renamed MS-DOS, and the company licenses it to IBM for the company's new personal computer.
A 26-year Bill Gates by this time was already a millionaire.
Two years later, Gates' friend Allen leaves Microsoft after developing Hodgkin's disease. The same year Microsoft announced Windows as an extension of its MS-DOS operating system.
1986: Microsoft goes public
In 13 March 1986, Microsoft made its IPO, at $21.00 per share.
At the end of the first day of trading Bill Gates had about 45% of the shares in the company he co-founded 11 years earlier, giving him a net worth of $350 million.
1987: Bill and his first billion
Bill Gates became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 1987 after growing excitement for the software industry drove Microsoft's stock higher. The value in his shares surpassed $1 billion by the time he was 31, making him the youngest billionaire ever at the time. At one point this year it was six times the value of the IPO price.
He met his future wife, Melinda French, at a Microsoft event in New York that year.
1989: From tech to art
Gates founded Corbis, an archive of art and photography from public and private collections in 1989.
Corbis later becomes one of the largest collections of visual information in the world.
1990: Under the radar
US Federal Trade Commission begins an investigation into possible collusion between IBM and Microsoft.
The commission charged that IBM and Microsoft collaborated to divvy up the market for operating systems in an anticompetitive way, with IBM's OS/2 capturing the high-end of the market and Microsoft's Windows covering the low-end of the market.
Throughout the early 90's Gates' fortune rose alongside Microsoft's share price.
1994: Marrying Melinda, setting up charitable foundation
Bill Gates married Melinda French in 1994. The couple went on to have three children.
Gates family consolidate their charitable giving under the William H Gates Foundation, named for Bill Gates' father, who agrees to manage the foundation. It is later absorbed into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
1995: Richest man in the world
In July of 1995, at age 39 and with a fortune of $12.9 billion, Bill Gates became the world's richest man.
Later that year, Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer to the world, as part of Windows 95.
Gates' book about his vision for the digital future, The Road Ahead (1995), held the no. 1 spot on New York Times best-seller list for seven weeks.
Gates had begun to shift Microsoft's focus toward the emerging Internet around this time.
1997: Fortune that grew more than double
Bill Gates' net worth more than doubled from his previous years' worth; rising to a massive $39.8 billion.
By then, He was still the richest man in the world and $19 billion richer than the second richest, Warren Buffett.
1998: Getting a pie to the face
In Belgium, on his way to meet business and government leaders, Gates is hit in the face with a cream pie. The incident was orchestrated by Noel Godin, a Belgian who gained notoriety for throwing pies at high-profile individuals.
Godin was quoted saying the incident was an act "against hierarchical power." In May, the US Justice Department charges Microsoft with engaging in anticompetitive and exclusionary practices designed to maintain its monopoly in personal computer operating systems and to extend that monopoly to Internet browsing software. Twenty state attorneys general and the District of Columbia filed a similar action.
Later, in October the US Department of Justice also sued Microsoft for violating a 1994 consent decree, by forcing computer makers to include its Internet browser as a part of the installation of Windows software.
1999: Making his presence felt
Gates published another best-selling book in 1999 - Business @ the Speed of Thought, about the interconnectedness of business and technology.
That year he begins appearing more and more in pop culture. The television network TNT airs a made-for-TV movie about the emergence of Apple and Microsoft called Pirates of Silicon Valley. Anthony Michael Hall played Gates.
Tech stock frenzy hits an all-time high, boosting Bill's net worth to $85 billion.
His increase from the previous year is more than $25 billion - roughly $3 million per hour.
At one point in 1999, his net worth was briefly more than $100 billion.
2000: New millennium and Bill's highs and plights in myriads
Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2000, his former Harvard dorm-mate and right-hand man Steve Ballmer took over the helm, while Gates became chief software architect.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was formed that year by merging the William H Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation.
That year, US Federal District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson concluded Microsoft misused its monopoly power, and ordered the company be split in two parts - one to produce the operating system and the other to produce other software components.
However, Judge Penfield's 2000 decision is overturned on appeal a year later. The US Justice Department announced that it is no longer sought to break up Microsoft and will instead seek a lesser antitrust penalty.
An agreement is reached between the US Justice Department and Microsoft on 2 November, 2001. MGM releases the movie Antitrust, starring Tim Robbins, about a company and character loosely based on Microsoft and Bill Gates. More
2005: Big money gets knighted
Queen Elizabeth II bestowed an honorary knighthood on Bill Gates for his contributions to the United Kingdom. The Time magazine named him a "Person of the Year," along with Melinda Gates and Bono, for what the magazine called his "good Samaritan" work.
2006: Going big with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Gates announces that his role as an executive at Microsoft will be phased out over the following two years. His intention, he says, is to spend more time working with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Shortly after his announcement, Warren Buffet donates $31 billion, most of his fortune, to the foundation.
Bill Gates "graduated" from Harvard in 2007 - the university awarded him with an honorary degree.
Gates gave the commencement speech, encouraging the graduates to strive for social change.
"Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity," Gates said to the class.
2008: Losing two crowns
Though his fortune continued to grow, Bill Gates lost his spot as the richest man on the planet.
After 13 years in the no. 1 spot on the Forbes' list, Gates' got surpassed by his friend Warren Buffet and Mexican telecom giant Carlos Slim Helu.
Gates also lost his moniker of "youngest self-made billionaire" after Facebook cofounder and CEO became a billionaire at age 23 after the social network's IPO in 2008, making Zuckerberg the youngest self-made billionaire in history. Gates' had a net worth of $58 billion at this point.
That same year on 27 June, Gates retired from day-to-day duties at Microsoft, but stayed in the role of chairman and adviser on important development projects.
He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he plans to pour the same amount of energy into his foundation that he did into Microsoft.
"I'm not a sit-on-the-beach type," Gates said.
2009: Hit by the global financial crisis
Bill Gates was not immune to the effects of the global financial crisis. His net worth took a big hit in 2009 like many people's – dropping to $40 billion.
A year later, Gates saw his net worth rebound to near 2008 levels in 2010 - $53 billion.
2011: On a serious climb
From this point forward, Gates' net worth was on a serious climb, that year his net worth was 63.4 billion. By 2014, it was $76 billion
From 2017 to 2018, Gates went from a net worth of $86 billion to $90 billion. He made $4 billion in just one year - translating to $11 million per day.
The rise in his wealth came from the innovations in Microsoft's business practices and product offerings – which drove the share prices up.
Presently, Bill Gates is in an exclusive two-man club of people who are worth $100 billion or more – with only Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos over him.