Bill Gates ultimately got rich as a result of his role in the founding of Microsoft and Windows. Gates founded the company with his business partner Paul Allen, and Microsoft eventually became the largest software business in the world. However, Gates stepped down as chairman of the company in February 2014.
Gates and Allen began working on Microsoft in 1975 while living in Albuquerque and later registered the company's name with the Office of the Secretary of the State of New Mexico on Nov. 26, 1976. The company remained in Albuquerque until January 1979 when it relocated to Bellevue, Washington. After this move, Microsoft entered into a partnership with IBM and later went through a restructuring in 1981 that saw Gates appointed as the president of Microsoft as well as the chairman of the board.
The first retail version of Microsoft Windows was released to the public on Nov. 20, 1985. Microsoft was taken public in 1986, and because he held 45 percent of the company's shares at the time of the IPO, Gates became a millionaire at the age of 31. He later became a billionaire as the company's stock continued to rise, and as of 2015, he is consistently near the top of lists of the wealthiest people in the world.