All of us know about Bill Gates, if you don’t, he is a co-founder of Microsoft. He is the fourth richest man in the globe. In this article, I’ll show you why, if you were in his shoes, you wouldn’t be as successful as he is now. There were numerous elements that aided him in becoming who he is today.
It was 1967 in Seattle, Washington, a boy of eight standard gets a hold of a computer. This wasn’t a computer like the ones in our modern era, it was Teletype Model 33 ASR, which is connected through phone lines to the computers of the General Electric company. This what surprised young Bill about the possibilities of the computer. He started spending hours trying to figure out the computer. He developed his first program on this computer and after couple of years he became the richest man in the world. He remained the richest person for about 20 years. Now he is the fourth richest man with a wealth of $124 billion.
Let’s start at the beginning. At 12-years old, Bill gates was studying at Lakeside school. A private school in Seattle. At school he had some friends who were equally passionate about the computers. Kent Evans, Bill Gates first best friend, Paul Allen a tenth grader and Rick Weiland. The four of them started the lakeside programmers group.
He tried to come up with the ways to use the computer outside the school too. In Seattle there was a small company called Computer Center Corporation. They rented out the computer by hour. A year later in 1968, Bill and his friends started visiting this store to use computers. But the cost to do this was quite high. This store charged $40/hour at that time. So Bill and his friends started looking for bugs in the operating system of CCC. They found the loopholes in the system and tried to exploit those for more computer time. When they were caught, they were banned from this store.
When people tell you the inspirational story of Bill Gates, when they tell you how talented and hardworking Bill Gates is, you really can’t doubt his talent or hard work. As you’ll understand, if you had been in Bill Gates place and were as talented and hardworking as Bill Gates, even then you couldn’t have been as successful as him. Why bro?
If Bill Gates had been a woman, it wouldn’t have been possible. Because during the 1960s, there was significant gender discrimination in the USA. Did you know that in the 1960s, a bank could refuse to give a credit card to a woman? Even if the woman was married, her husband’s signature was needed. In many states of the US, women couldn’t serve on the jury. In 1961, the Supreme Court of the US, upheld a Floridian law, preventing women from serving on the jury. Women weren’t allowed to take birth control pills, it was allowed only after the historic judgment in the US in 1972.
For every dollar that a man earns, if a woman does the same job and the same work, she earns 59 cents. It was in 1964, the US passed a law preventing gender discrimination against women. And perhaps a more important point, during the 1960s, almost all universities didn’t grant admission to women. Women weren’t even allowed to enter Harvard’s library till 1967. Till 1977, the male to female ratio was at 4:1. Women had to be four times as smart as men to get admission to the same university. Harvard had a sister school for women, Radcliffe College. It didn’t give the female students the same privileges that the male students got. It was shut down only in 1999, and a common Harvard School was set up, where male and female students could get admission without any discrimination.
If Bill Gates had been black, it wouldn’t have been possible. Because the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, before this the “blacks” weren’t allowed to enter in restaurants, cinema halls, churches or schools. Even in buses, they had to sit in corners while the buses used to be reserved for the whites. People of color weren’t even allowed to vote in several southern states. In 1968, when Bill Gates and Paul Allen were working on their computers in the Computer Center Corporation. Martin Luther King was assassinated, because he was fighting for the rights of the people of color. Throughout the 1960s, there were several riots for Black rights. Over racial discrimination.
If Bill Gates had been born in some other country. Or even in another US city. It might not have been possible. Bill and Paul lived in a developed city of a developed country. If Bill Gates had been born in India, he might not have seen a computer before he turned 30. Because mass-scale adoption of computers was seen in India after 1985. But even if we talk about America, Seattle was an advanced city for computers . Computer technology reached this city in the 1960s. The programming language Basic was invented in this city.
Even if you were a white male living in Seattle, don’t get your hopes up, because not everyone living in Seattle had an access to computers. Bill and Paul both were studying at a top-notch private school. The middle-class people couldn’t send their kids to the Lakeside School. Not only were they getting a good quality education at the school, but they were also getting access to the computers. When Bill Gates experienced computers for the first time in 1965, there were only about 22,000 computers all across America. While the population of America was 200 million.
Paul Allen’s father Ken, he was the Associate Director at the Library of the University of Washington. Because of this, Paul could access the books on computers. Bill Gates’ parents were also on the governing body of the university. Any parent would want to help their kids, So Paul and Bill got their parent’s help, an advantage. Bill Gates too got an advantage of his father’s profession. Bill Gates’s father was a lawyer. Officially registering Microsoft, renting a space, fighting legal battles against Altair, these would have been very difficult for a common man, but because his father was a lawyer, Bill Gates could get a lot of legal help from his father.
A major turning for Microsoft was when they got a contract from IBM. Till then, Microsoft was a small company. But how did they get this contract? The chairperson of IBM at the time was John Opel. He was also a board member of a non-profit organization United Way. A co-member of the board of this organization was Mary Maxwell Gates. Bill Gates mother. She talked to Opel about Microsoft. As Microsoft’s competition, there was a big company called Digital Research. It was much bigger than Microsoft. IBM wasn’t able to negotiate properly with it. So when Mary suggested Microsoft, IBM’s Chairman decided to give a chance to Microsoft. This chance that Microsoft got, was immensely important. They may not have gotten this chance if Mary Gates wasn’t on the same board.
But anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that these points, were the privileges that Bill Gates and Paul Allen had, due to which they could be so successful. With talent and hard work alone, perhaps Bill Gates couldn’t have reached the point he is at now. These are the things ignored by many. You can call this Privilege Blindness. All of us have some privileges. We have different circumstances, we have grown up in different environments, our parents have different backgrounds, our caste, our religion, all these do make a difference. Due to these reasons, the starting line for Bill Gates, was very ahead of that of a common person who was born in India at the same time.
There was a next to impossible chance that an Indian could have reached the point that Bill Gates could reach then. Today, obviously, the world has changed. But these privileges are still valid. Obviously, there’s higher racial equality in America, there are more female students at Harvard than males. But even today, in various countries, we get to see privileges of different aspects.
One of the aspects of this privilege is the nepotism in Bollywood. Or when politicians’ children become politicians. Being born in a developed city, growing up there, being born in a background that saw no riots and uprisings, all of these come together, to become an advantage for some of you. And will be a disadvantage for the others.
A person who got these privileges, I’m not saying that he should be robbed out of all privileges, but they need to acknowledge those privileges.
People shouldn’t be blind to it. Look around you, and acknowledge these. On a small scale. I want you to think about this too. Whatever you’re doing in life, whichever profession you’re in, what are the privileges that you got that you could reach where you are? Obviously, talent and hard work would always be a factor. But on ignoring these factors, what were the privileges in your life? That helped you reach where you are in your career. It will be very interesting to know.
Now, you might say that there are examples of people who have truly risen from the bottom to the top. Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, but the point I’m trying to make is that they had to work much harder to reach that point. They are the exceptions. Based on the exceptions, you can’t say that there are no problems in society. Some people cite these exceptions as an example, to say that if they could do it, it was possible for everyone else too. That no one should have a problem with that.
If Oprah Winfrey could get rich, then poverty is just a ‘state of mind’.
If Barack Obama could become the President of the USA, then there is no racism in America.
If a Dalit, Ramnath Kovind is the current President of India, there’s no caste discrimination in India anymore.
If Kalpana Chawla could go to space, there isn’t any gender discrimination.
“These statements are absolutely illogical. You can’t negate the problems based on exceptions. We should try to acknowledge our privileges, we should identify the problems in the society, and should try to have the same starting line for everyone.
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