MICROSOFT Washington’s computer software giant sprang from one of the planet’s first microcomputers, a clunky box with a brain known as the Altair 8800.
  • In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen programmed Microsoft’s first product, Altair Basic.
  • The company expanded into operating systems with MS-DOS, first sold on the IBM PC in 1981.
  • Microsoft lured non-techies with its flagship product, Windows. The user-friendly operating system and bundle of applications appealed to the masses. The company sold 40 million copies of Windows 95 in the first year, moving PCs into more than 250 million businesses, homes and schools around the world.
  • Meanwhile, company stock soared more than a hundredfold in a single decade, creating thousands of millionaires in The Evergreen State.
  • In 1998, the federal government and 20 state attorneys general filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft. A 2001 settlement required the company to share application programming interfaces. It remained in effect until 2011.
  • Microsoft employs nearly 100,000 people in more than 100 countries.

Main background image: Courtesy Microsoft Corporation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hopes to empower people across the world through access to computers at public libraries. In 2011, the Gates Foundation partnered with the Colombian government to introduce technology at public libraries. The project received $3.2 million from the Foundation. Microsoft donated software. Courtesy David Evans/Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


American education, poverty and global health dominate initiatives of one of the world’s most powerful forces in philanthropy. Since it established in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has taken on the eradication of polio, furthered the lives of people with HIV and equipped remote places across the globe with technology. The Foundation has opened libraries and brought Internet access to distant locations, such as Chile, Latvia and Botswana.

“Until we treat the health of that poor child as being as important as the health of a rich child, we’ll still have work to do.”
- Bill Gates