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c. 1984

Bill Gates, coder extraordinaire

When these shots were taken, Gates was still actively writing Microsoft code, a practice that continued until 1989.

William Gates III wrote his first computer program (a version of tic tac toe) at the age of 13, in 1968 — not entirely connected to his propensity for staying alone in his room. “I’m thinking!” he would shout down, when his mother asked him what he was doing.

With a group of high school friends, Bill formed the school computer club. He also created his school’s scheduling software, gaming the system to allow himself to be in the classes with the most girls.

Gates’ parents had wanted Bill to become a lawyer, and he went to Harvard, though with no special plan. Rather, he devoted his time to the Harvard computers, and then abruptly dropped out — to form a company with Paul Allen.

The company was called Microsoft. It did quite well.

This set of portraits shows Gates in 1984. He was still not yet 30, and Microsoft was less than 10 years old. The following year, Microsoft would release its first retail version of its Windows operating system. You may have heard of it.

And it’s largely the reason why Gates would go on to become the world’s richest man, with a fortune of around $90 billion — of which he’s pledged to give away at least 50%.

No longer chairman of Microsoft, the majority of his time is now spent on his charitable foundation — itself the world’s largest. Yet when these shots were taken, Bill Gates was still actively writing Microsoft code, a practice he didn’t stop until 1989.

Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images
Doug Wilson / Corbis / Getty Images

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