In the last decades of the 20th century, a revolution in information technology transformed commerce and consciousness, just as the printing press transformed civilization 500 years before. These advances in computer technology and communications would have remained the province of professional scientists and mega-business if not for the introduction of the personal computer, and no person played a greater role in bringing the computer into homes and offices all over the world than William H. Gates, III.
Bill Gates was a teenage computer whiz when he dropped out of Harvard to start his own company, Microsoft. Through a brilliant combination of technical prowess and business insight, Gates made Microsoft the indispensable supplier of operating systems and office software to computer users around the world. If you use a computer to write a letter, compose an e-mail or visit a web site, chances are you're using Microsoft software.
Microsoft's uncontested dominance of the personal computer software market made Bill Gates the richest man in the world. He has used his personal wealth to attack the most intractable global problems of disease and poverty through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.