Connect with us

Spread & Containment

From Colombia to Laos: protecting crops through nanotechnology

In a recent breakthrough, DNA sequencing technology has uncovered the culprit behind cassava witches’ broom disease: the fungus genus Ceratobasidium….

Published

on

In a recent breakthrough, DNA sequencing technology has uncovered the culprit behind cassava witches’ broom disease: the fungus genus Ceratobasidium.

Credit: Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT / A. Galeon

In a recent breakthrough, DNA sequencing technology has uncovered the culprit behind cassava witches’ broom disease: the fungus genus Ceratobasidium.

The cutting-edge nanopore technology used for this discovery was first developed to track the COVID-19 virus in Colombia, but is equally suited to identifying and reducing the spread of plant viruses. The findings, published in Scientific Reports, will help plant pathologists in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand protect farmers’ valued cassava harvest.

“In Southeast Asia, most smallholder farmers rely on cassava: its starch-rich roots form the basis of an industry that supports millions of producers. In the past decade, however, Cassava Witches’ Broom disease has stunted plants, reducing harvests to levels that barely permit affected farmers to make a living,” said Wilmer Cuellar, Senior Scientist at the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT.

Since 2017, researchers at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT have incorporated nanotechnology into their research, specifically through the Oxford Nanopore DNA/RNA sequencing technology. This advanced tool provides insight into the deeper mysteries of plant life, accurately identifying pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi that affect crops.

“When you find out which pathogen is present in a crop, you can implement an appropriate diagnostic method, search for resistant varieties and integrate that diagnosis into variety selection processes,” said Ana Maria Leiva, Senior Researcher at the Alliance.

Nanotechnology, in essence, is the bridge between what we see and what we can barely imagine. This innovation opens a window into the microscopic world of plant life and pathogens, redefining the way we understand and combat diseases that affect crops.

For an in-depth look at the technology being used in Laos and Colombia, please explore this link.


About the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) delivers research-based solutions that harness agricultural biodiversity and sustainably transform food systems to improve people’s lives. Alliance solutions address the global crises of malnutrition, climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation.

With novel partnerships, the Alliance generates evidence and mainstreams innovations to transform food systems and landscapes so that they sustain the planet, drive prosperity, and nourish people in a climate crisis.

The Alliance is part of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. www.alliancebioversityciat.org


Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…

Published

on

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

Read More

Continue Reading

International

Public Health from the People

There are many ways to privately improve public health. Such responses make use of local knowledge, entrepreneurship, and civil society and pursue standard…

Published

on

There are many ways to privately improve public health. Such responses make use of local knowledge, entrepreneurship, and civil society and pursue standard goals of public health like controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Moreover, private responses improve overall welfare by lowering the total costs of a disease and limiting externalities. If private responses can produce similar outcomes as standard, governmental public health programs—and more—perhaps we should reconsider when and where we call upon governments to improve public health.

Two Kinds of Private Responses

Following Vernon Smith and his distinction between constructivist and ecological rationality, private actors can engage in two general kinds of public health improvements. They can engage in concerted efforts to improve public health, and they can engage in emergent responses through myriad interactions.1 Three stories below—about William Walsh, Martha Claghorn, and Edwin Gould—indicate concerted efforts to improve public health.

Walsh, a Catholic priest and President of the Father Matthew Society in Memphis, Tennessee, used the society to organize a refugee camp outside of the city and helped hundreds of people avoid yellow fever during the 1878 epidemic—one of the worst yellow fever epidemics in the country.2 Shortly after learning mosquitos carried diseases prior to 1901, Claghorn chaired the Civics committee of the Twentieth Century Club in the Richmond Hill area of Long Island and led a community-wide anti-mosquito campaign, which rid the area of potentially infectious mosquitos.3 After realizing that many of his employees were sick with malaria, Gould—president of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway—used his wealth and business firm to finance and develop an anti-mosquito campaign throughout Texas.4

These stories show how individuals recognize a public health problem given their circumstances and use their knowledge and available resources to resolve the problem. More recently, we might all be familiar with private, constructivist responses to Covid-19. We all made plans to avoid others and produce our desired amount of exposure. Many people made facemasks from old clothes or purchased them from facemask producers. Businesses, retailers, restaurants, and many others adapted in various ways to limit exposure for their workers and customers. My favorite example, albeit not relevant for most, is the so-called bubble that was implemented by the NBA, which housed teams, encouraged play, and limited infection. The NBA finished their season and crowned a 2020 champion only because of the privately designed and implemented bubble solution. The key is that the bubble pursued all of those objectives, not just one of them. All of these responses indicate how private interactions among people can minimize their exposure, through negotiation, discussion, and mutually beneficial means.

In addition to privately designed solutions, emergent public health responses are also important, perhaps even more so. Long-term migration and settlement patterns away from infectious diseases, consumption to improve nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and the development of social norms to encourage preventative behavior are all different kinds of emergent public health responses. Each of these responses—developed through the actions of no one person—are substantial ways to improve public health.

First, consider how common migration operates as a means of lowering prevalence rates. As soon as people realized that living near stagnant bodies of water increased the probability of acquiring diseases like malaria, they were more likely to leave those areas and subsequently avoid them. Places with such features became known as places to avoid; people also developed myths to dissuade visitors and inhabitants.5 Such myths and associations left places like the Roman Campagna desolate for centuries. These kinds of cultural associations are also widespread; for example, many people in North and South Carolina moved to areas with higher elevation and took summer vacations to avoid diseases like malaria. East End and West End, in London, also developed because of the opportunities people had to migrate away from (and towards) several diseases.6

While these migration patterns might develop over decades, movement and migration also help in more acute public health crises. During the 1878 yellow fever epidemic throughout the southern United States, for example, thousands of people fled their cities to avoid infection. They took any means of transportation they could find. While some fled to other, more northern cities, many acquired temporary housing in suburbs, and many formed campsites and refugee camps outside of their city. The refugee camps outside of Memphis—like the one formed by William Walsh—helped hundreds and thousands of people avoid infection throughout the Fall of 1878.

Second, more mundane public health improvements—like improvements in nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation—are also emergent. These improvements arise from the actions of individuals and entrepreneurs, often closely associated with voluntary consumption and markets. According to renowned medical scientist Thomas McKeown, that is, rising incomes encouraged voluntary changes in consumption, which helped improve nutrition, sanitation, and lowered mortality rates.7 These effects were especially pertinent for women and mothers as they often selected more nutritious food and altered household sanitation practices. With advancing ideas about germs, moreover, historian Nancy Tomes argues that private interests advanced the campaign to improve house-hold sanitation and nutrition—full of advice and advertisements in newspapers, magazines, manuals, and books.8 Following Tomes, economic historians Rebecca Stein and Joel Mokyr substantiate these ideas and show that people changed their hygiene, sanitation, house-hold cleaning habits, and diets as they learned more about germs.9 Such developments helped people to provide their desired exposure to germs according to their values.

Obviously, there were concerted public health improvements during this time that also explain falling mortality rates. For example, waterworks were conscious efforts to improve public health and were provided publicly and privately, with similar, positive effects on health.10 The point is that while we might be quick to connect the health improvements associated with a public water system, we should also recognize emergent responses like gradual changes in voluntary consumption.

Finally, social norms or rules that encourage preventative behavior might also be relevant kinds of emergent public health responses. Such rules identify behavior that should or should not be allowed, they are enforced in a decentralized way, and if they follow from the values of individuals in a community.11 If such rules pertain to public health, they can raise the cost of infectious behavior or the benefits of preventative behavior. Covering one’s mouth when sneezing is not only beneficial from a public health perspective, it also helps avoid earning disapproval.

The condom code during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is another example of an emergent public health rule that reduced infectiousness by encouraging safer behavior.12 People who adopted safer sexual practices were seen to be doing the right thing—akin to taking care of a brother. People who refrained from adopting safer sexual practices were admonished. No single person or entity announced the rule; rather, it emerged from the actions and interactions of individuals within various communities to pursue their goals regarding maintaining sexual activity and limiting the spread of disease. Indeed, such norms were more effective in communities where people used their social capital resources to determine which behaviors should be changed and where they can more easily monitor and enforce infractions. This seems like a relevant factor where many gay men and men who have sex with men live in dense urban areas like New York and Los Angeles that foster LGBTQ communities.

Covid-19 provides additional examples where social norms encouraged the use of seemingly appropriate behavior, e.g., social distancing, the use of facemasks, and vaccination. Regardless of any formal rule in place, many people adapted their behavior because of social norms that encouraged social distancing, the use of facemasks, and vaccination. In communities that valued such behaviors, people that wore face masks and vaccinated were praised and were seen as doing the right thing; people that did not were viewed with scorn. Indeed, states and cities that have higher levels of social capital and higher values for public health tend to have higher Covid-19 vaccine uptakes.13

Improving Public Health and More

“Private approaches tend to lower the total costs of diseases and they limit externalities.”

While these private approaches can improve public health, can they do more than typical public health approaches cannot? Private approaches tend to lower the total costs of diseases and they limit externalities. Each aspect of private responses requires additional explanation.

Responding to infectious diseases and disease prevention is doubly challenging because not only do we have to worry about being sick, we also have to consider the costs imposed by our preventative behaviors and the rules we might impose. Thus, the total costs of an infectious disease include 1) the costs related to the disease—the pain and suffering of a disease and the opportunity costs of being sick—and 2) the costs associated with preventative and avoidance behavior. While disease costs are mostly self-explanatory, the costs of avoiding infection warrant more explanation. Self-isolation when you have a cold, for example, entails the loss of potentially valuable social activities; and wearing condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases forfeits the pleasures of unprotected sexual activity. Diseases for which vaccines and other medicines are available are less worrisome, perhaps, because these are diseases with lower prevention costs than diseases where those pharmaceutical interventions are not available. Governmental means of prevention also add relevant costs. Many readers might be familiar with the costs imposed by our private and public responses to Covid—from isolation to learning loss, and from sharp decreases in economic activity to increased rates of depression and spousal abuse.14 Long before Covid, moreover, people bemoaned wearing masks during the Great Flu,15 balked at quarantine against yellow fever,16 and protested bathhouse closings with the onset of HIV.17

Figure 1 shows the overall problem: diseases are harmful but our responses to those diseases might also be harmful.

Figure 1. The Excess Burden of Infectious Diseases

This figure follows Bhattacharya, Hyde, and Tu (2013) and Philipson (2000), who refer to the difference between total costs and disease costs as the excess burden of a disease. That is, excess burden depends on how severely we respond to a disease in private and in public. The excess burden associated with the common cold tends to be negligible as we bear the minor inconvenience of a fever, a sore throat perhaps, or a couple days off work; moreover, most people don’t go out of their way to avoid catching a cold. The excess burden of plague, however, is more complicated; not only are the symptoms much worse—and include death—people have more severe reactions. Note too that disease costs rise with prevalence and with worsening symptoms but eventually decline as more severe diseases tend to be less prevalent. Still, no one wants to be infected with a major disease, and severe precautions are likely. We might shun all social interactions, and we might use government to impose strict quarantine measures. As disease severity rises along the horizontal axis, it might be the case that the cure is worse than the disease.

The private responses indicated above all help to lower the total costs of a disease because people choose their responses and they use their local knowledge and available resources to select cheaper methods of prevention. Claghorn used her neighborhood connections and the social capital of her civics association to encourage homeowners to rid their yards of pools of water; as such she lowered the costs of producing mosquito control. Similarly, Gould used the organizational structure of his firm to hire experts in mosquito control and build a sanitation department. These are cheap methods to limit exposure to mosquitos.

Emergent responses also help to lower the total costs of a disease because such responses indicate the variety of choices people face and their ability to select cheaper options. People facing diseases like malaria might be able to move away and, for some, it is cheaper than alternative means of prevention. Many people now are able to limit their exposure to mosquitos with screens, improved dwellings, and air conditioning.18 Consider the variety of ways people can limit their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. If some people would rather use condoms to limit HIV transmission, they are better off doing so than if they were to refrain from sexual activity altogether. Similarly, some people would be better off having relatively risky sexual activity if they were in monogamous relationships or if they knew about their partner’s sexual history. That people can choose their own preventative measures indicates lower total costs compared with blunt, one-rule-for-all, governmental public health responses.

Negative and positive externalities of spreadable diseases indicate too much infectious behavior and too little preventative behavior, respectively. Hosting a party is fun, but it also incurs the internal costs of the drinks and appetizers and, more importantly, perhaps the external costs of raising the probability that people get sick. Attending a local cafe can be relaxing, but you have to pay for a cup of coffee and you might also transmit a disease to other coffee drinkers. The same could be said for many other public and social activities that might spread diseases like attending a class or a basketball game, transporting goods and people, and sexual behaviors. Our preventative behaviors from taking a vaccine to covering your mouth and from isolation to engaging in safer sexual practices emits positive externalities. If left unchecked, negative and positive externalities lead to higher rates of infection.

Overall, we should continue to think more critically about delineating how private and public actors can improve public health and overall welfare. More importantly, we should recognize that private actors are more capable than we often realize, especially in light of conscious efforts to improve public health and those efforts that emerge from people’s actions and interactions. These private efforts might be better at advancing some public health goals than public actors do. Individuals, for example, have more access to local knowledge and can discover novel solutions that serve multiple ends—often ends they value—rather than the ends of distant officials. Such cases and possibilities indicate cheaper ways to improve public health.


Footnotes

[1] Smith (2009), Rationality in Economics: Constructivist and Ecological Forms, Cambridge University Press.

[2] For more on Walsh, see Carson (forthcoming), “Prevention Externalities: Private and Public Responses to the 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic,” Public Choice.

[3] For more on Claghorn, see Carson (2020), “Privately Preventing Malaria in the United States, 1900-1925,” Essays in Economics and Business History.

[4] For more on Gould, see Carson (2016), “Firm-led Malaria Prevention in the United States, 1910-1920,” American Journal of Law and Medicine.

[5] On the connection between malarial diseases, dragons, and dragon-slaying saints, see Horden (1992), “Disease, Dragons, and Saints: the management of epidemics in the dark ages,” in Epidemics and Ideas by Ranger and Slack.

[6] For more on migration and prevalence rates, see Mesnard and Seabright (2016), “Migration and the equilibrium prevalence of infectious disease,” Journal of Demographic Economics.

[7] The American Journal of Public Health published several commentaries on McKeown in 2002: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/issues/130602/

[8] Tomes (1990), “The Private Side of Public Health: Sanitary Science, Domestic Hygiene, and the Germ Theory, 1870-1990,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

[9] Mokyr and Stein (1996), “Science, Health, and Household Technology: The Effect of the Pasteur Revolution on Consumer Demand,” in The Economics of New Goods, NBER.

[10] See Werner Troesken’s work on public and private waterworks in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. See Galiani, Gertler, and Shargrodsky (2005), “Water for Life,” Journal of Political Economy.

[11] Brennan et al., (2013), Explaining Norms, Oxford University Press.

[12] For more on the condom code, see Carson (2017), “The Informal Norms of HIV Prevention: The emergence and erosion of the condom code,” Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics.

[13] Carilli, Carson, and Isaacs (2022), “Jabbing Together? The complementarity between social capital, formal public health rules, and covid-19 vaccine rates in the U.S.,” Vaccine.

[14] Leslie and Wilson, “Sheltering in Place and Domestic Violence: Evidence from Calls for Service During Covid-19.” Journal of Public Economics 189, 104241. Mulligan, “Deaths of Despair and the Incidence of Excess Mortality in 2020,” NBER, https://www.nber.org/papers/w28303. Betthauser, Bach-Mortensen, and Engzell, “A systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence on learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic,” Nature Human Behavior, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-022-01506-4

[15] On the great influenza epidemic, see CBS News, “During the 1918 Flu pandemic, masks were controversial for ‘many of the same reasons they are today’.” Oct. 30, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mask-1918-flu-pandemic-controversial/

[16] On yellow fever quarantine in Mississippi, see Deanne Nuwer (2009), Plague Among the Magnolias: The 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Mississippi.

[17] On these closures, see Trout (2021), “The Bathhouse Battle of 1984.” https://www.sfaf.org/collections/beta/the-bathhouse-battle-of-1984/

[18] Tusting et al. (2017), “Housing Improvement and Malaria Risk in Sub-Saharan Africa: a multi-country analysis of survey data.” PLOS Medicine.


*Byron Carson is an Associate Professor of Economics and Business at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where he teaches courses on introductory economics, money and banking, health economics, and urban economics. Byron earned his Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University in 2017, and his research interests include economic epidemiology, public choice, and Austrian economics.


This article was edited by Features Editor Ed Lopez.


(0 COMMENTS)

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

A deep dive into Bill Gates’ net worth

Worth more than $123 billion, the Microsoft co-founder-turned-global philanthropist has promised to part with “virtually all” of his money in his …

Published

on

At one point considered a “tyrannical technocrat,” today Gates is known as a philanthropic icon.

Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It might seem easy to wax philosophical when you’re sitting on more money than most people could ever dream of, but, in a blog post published shortly before the birth of his first grandchild, Bill Gates took stock of his life’s achievements and concluded that money wasn’t really that important, after all.

“Being wealthy makes my life much more comfortable, but not more fulfilling,” wrote the co-founder of Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Free Report and perennial placeholder on Forbes’ list of World’s Billionaires. He added that there were only three things in life he needed to feel satisfied: His family, his friends, and doing work that mattered.

After spending much of his life dominating the “world’s richest” lists, Gates has vowed to give away 99.96% of his wealth through his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which advances education and public health initiatives around the globe. His goal is to make the world better for future generations, including his young granddaughter, Leila — and he has given away an astounding $59 billion in the process.

What is Bill Gates’ net worth?

Bill Gates is a millionaire thousands of times over: As of February 2024, Forbes reported his net worth at over $123 billion, most of which came from his position as the largest individual shareholder of Microsoft, which he started with Paul Allen in 1975.

Gates still holds a 1.38% stake, or roughly 103 million shares, in the tech giant. Microsoft's price has soared in the last few years due to its visionary ventures into artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and the gaming industry —thanks in large part to the leadership of its current CEO, Satya Nadella

Microsoft finished 2023 with a gain of nearly 57% and now boasts a $3 trillion market cap, ahead even of rival Apple  (AAPL) - Get Free Report.

If Gates had held onto his 45% initial stake in Microsoft after the company’s 1986 IPO, he would be a trillionaire today.

But hindsight is always 20/20, and back in 1987, when Microsoft’s star was still on the rise, Gates became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire at age 32 — which was not too shabby, either. Gates has been ranked atop the list of world’s richest people a whopping 25 times since.

Who is richer than Bill Gates?

Despite his entrance into the three comma club, Bill Gates is not the wealthiest person in the world. As of February 2024, that distinction goes to Bernard Arnault and family, which controls the LVMH empire, including brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Sephora. Their fortune is  currently estimated at $211 billion.

In fact, Bill Gates doesn’t even make the top 5 anymore —here’s where he stands, and who’s ahead of him:

Top 10 richest people in the world

Forbes

RankNameNet WorthCompany

1.

Bernard Arnault & family

$212 billion

LVMH

2.

Elon Musk

$197.5 billion

Tesla

3.

Jeff Bezos

$194 billion

Amazon

4.

Mark Zuckerberg

$168.4 billion

Meta

5.

Larry Ellison

$143.8 billion

Oracle

6.

Warren Buffett

$128.5 billion

Berkshire Hathaway

7.

Bill Gates

$124.1 billion

Microsoft

8.

Steve Ballmer

$120.7 billion

Microsoft

9.

Larry Page

$118.2 billion

Google

10.

Sergey Brin

$113.3 billion

Google

Gates, pictured here in the 1980s, was a ‘lovable nerd’ with a revolutionary idea that minted him billions.

©Doug Wilson/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Who is Bill Gates?

Bill Gates probably doesn’t mind where he stands among his fellow billionaires — after all, he’s not trying to hold onto his money. In 1991, five years after Microsoft’s IPO, Gates made his first major gift, a $12 million donation to the University of Washington that endowed a molecular biology research lab. 

In 1994, he and then-wife Melinda sold $94 million worth of Microsoft shares and started the William H. Gates Foundation. (In 2000, it combined forces with the Gates Learning Foundation to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the entity we know today.)

In 2010, Gates, along with his buddy, famed investor Warren Buffett, made the Giving Pledge, vowing to give away half of their wealth to charitable causes. And just where does Buffett send the bulk of his money? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, naturally. Aside from the Gates’ themselves, Buffett is the foundation’s largest contributor, donating a whopping $35.7 billion to its initiatives since 2006.

Related: Halloween Squishmallows: How these holiday collectibles are making Warren Buffett rich

Coincidentally, Gates believes that his philanthropy is very similar in nature to his work at Microsoft. “[As a philanthropist,] I get to use 80% of the same type of thinking that I exercised at Microsoft,” he told Village Global, noting how both roles involve teamwork, supporting engineers, and figuring out what needs to be added to make the greatest possible impact. 

The only difference, he says, is that through the Gates Foundation, “our profit is lives saved, as opposed to a monetary measure.”

Bill Gates’ early life

Little would the skinny, often-bullied boy know the tremendous impact he would one day make in the world—both through his business and charitable ventures.

Born on Oct. 28, 1955 in Seattle, Gates’ first introduction to digital technology was in the form of a Teletype Model 33 ASR machine at his prep school, the Lakeside School. The rudimentary machine sent and received typed messages and was connected to a mainframe by a telephone line.

When he was 13, Gates wrote his first software program: A tic-tac-toe game that pitted the user against the computer. Noticing his talents, his math teacher allowed him to leave class to work on it. 

Later, Gates and a group of friends, which included Paul Allen, Microsoft’s co-founder, started the Lakeside Programmers Club, where they studied different coding languages and, in return for free time on the computer terminal, helped to automate their school’s scheduling system.

Microsoft’s co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1984.

©Doug Wilson/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Did Bill Gates go to college?

Gates received a near-perfect score on his SATs of 1590 out of 1600 and enrolled in Harvard University in 1973, although he famously would never graduate.

Gates took math and computer science classes and lived in Currier House, which is where he befriended Steve Ballmer, who would later lead Microsoft as CEO from 2000–2014.

In 1974, Paul Allen dropped out of Washington State University and moved to Boston, taking a job as a computer programmer with Honeywell. 

One day, as Allen walked through Harvard Square he saw an Altair 8080 computer on the cover of Popular Mechanics magazine — it would become a pivotal moment for the two. Allen bought the magazine and raced to Gates’ dorm room. Both knew that the time was nigh to develop their software ideas.

Together, they sent a letter to the MITS, the computer’s manufacturer, offering their consulting services to write software using the BASIC programming language. MITS responded favorably; Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard, and they packed up and moved to Albuquerque, where the company was located. In the process they founded Micro-Soft, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Windows 2000 was the next generation of Microsoft's operating systems in 2000.

HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP via Getty Image

Why is Microsoft so important?

Micro-Soft, a blend of the words “microcomputer” and “software,” would soon lose its hyphen — and Gates would never make it back to Harvard.

The company’s early products were variants of the BASIC programming language found in computers of the era; Gates was responsible for reviewing every line of code they made. But as the company grew, Gates’ role changed into that of a manager, and later, a chief executive.

In 1980, Microsoft forged a game-changing partnership with IBM, which had requested an operating system for their home computers. Gates and Allen created the PC-DOS for only $50,000, but the notoriety they gained from the project was priceless. 

Soon, other computer makers would roll out their own PC models, and the version of the DOS operating system Microsoft made for these systems, known as MS-DOS, would generate $430,000 in 1980 alone. 

In 1981, Gates and Allen officially incorporated Microsoft and relocated their business to Washington. Gates became president and Allen vice president (he would retire in 1981 after a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis).

Through Microsoft, Gates and Allen were not only savvy businessmen; they also became leaders in a technological revolution. The U.S. Census reported that as of 1984, only 8% of U.S. households owned a computer. By 2000, half of all households owned one — 90% of which were powered by Microsoft Windows’ operating systems. Gates’ dream to put “Windows everywhere” had become a reality.

Sales of MS-DOS would exceed $60 million in 1986, and Microsoft would go public that year, on March 13. By the end of the decade, it would become the largest PC software company in the world. 

Through the years, Microsoft rolled out subsequent generations of operating systems, like Windows, Windows 95, and Windows XP; in addition, Microsoft wisely spread its wings into other digital realms, such as the Xbox video gaming system, which it launched in 2001; Microsoft Office (the earliest version came out in 1988); and the Azure cloud computing platform in 2008.

Each new innovation added to Gates’ net worth.

Bill Gates’ net worth through the years

Forbes

YearNet worthNotable events

1986

$315 million

Microsoft goes public

1987

$1.25 billion

Microsoft releases OS/2; Gates becomes the world's youngest self-made billionaire

1990

$2.5 billion

Windows 3.0 launches

1995

$14.8 billion

Windows 95 comes out; Gates' first book, "The Road Ahead," is published

1997

$39.8 billion

Windows Explorer 4 launches and Microsoft invests $150 million in Apple, ending a years-long feud

1999

$85 billion

Gates steps down as chief executive, naming Steve Ballmer as his successor

2000

$63 billion

The U.S. government rules that Microsoft violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and ordered the company to be broken up; this ruling is overturned in 2001

2008

$58 billion

Gates announces he is stepping down from his full-time role at Microsoft in order to devote more time to his charitable projects

Gates weathered some major storms at the helm of Microsoft, including the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, which had caused many technology-related startups to go out of business. 

In addition, Microsoft faced an antitrust lawsuit in the late 1990s: Federal regulators charged that the company had violated the Sherman Act by illegally monopolizing the computer market and using unfair business practices against competitors. A federal judge agreed and ordered that the company should be broken apart, although an appeals court later overturned that ruling in 2001. Microsoft shares dropped 63% in 2000 — only to regain 50% in 2001. 

View the original article to see embedded media.

How much is Bill Gates’ foundation worth?

In 2008, Gates stepped down from his role at Microsoft to focus full-time on his philanthropic efforts.

You could say he has been doing a terrific job at emptying his pockets—there have even been several video games devoted to the theme of spending Bill Gates’ money.

Since inception, the foundation which bears his name has provided $71.4 billion worth of grants to initiatives that reduce poverty and enhance healthcare in some of the poorest communities around the world. The foundation has a specific focus on Africa; Gates has said that by the year 2050, 90% of the poorest populations will reside on that continent.

Its recent projects have included a $100 million effort to raise awareness and combat HIV, Tuberculosis, and malaria in 2023. It has also funded maternal and child health projects in Africa, and committed more than $2 billion to fight Covid-19 since 2020.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 10 largest projects funded 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

SizeGranteePurposeAmount Committed

1.

GAVI Alliance

Increasing equitable and sustainable use of vaccines

$1,600,000,000

2.

GAVI Alliance

Increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower income countries

$1,543,757,800

3.

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International

Global Polio eradication 

$1,285,210,000

4.

United Negro College Fund, Inc.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program

$1,264,876,898

5.

GAVI Alliance

General operating support to the GAVI Alliance for their strategic goals

$953,600,000

6.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria

$846,400,000

7.

Gates Medical Research Institute

Developing transformative therapies, biologics, vaccines, and biomarkers that will improve the lives of the world’s poorest populations

$844,002,778

8.

The GAVI Campaign

Supporting the immunization of children in 74 countries through the purchase of new vaccines

$750,000,000

9.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Providing financial support to country-driven prevention, diagnosis, treatment and education programs working to free the world of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

$750,000,000

10.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria

$731,783,690

Bill Gates’ divorce

After 27 years of marriage and 3 children, Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were divorcing in May 2021. The couple had a marriage contract, and details of their divorce settlement remain private, but speculation abounds as to who got to keep what.

The settlement reportedly included a $76 billion payout for Melinda, which cemented her status as one of the most powerful women in philanthropy today — she ranked #66 on the Forbes “Billionaires List” in 2023.

The couple also split an incredible array of assets, such as their $124 million art collection, which included works by Leonardo da Vinci, Winslow Homer, and Childe Hassam. They also sliced up a spectacular portfolio of global real estate properties, including an oceanfront mansion in Del Mar, Calif., an equestrian ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and a horse farm in Wellington, Fla..

Gates reportedly kept his main residence, a $131 million waterfront mansion in Medina, Wash. that he affectionately named “Xanadu 2” after the mansion in the movie “Citizen Kane.” The sprawling, 66,000-square-foot compound is replete with a spa, a trampoline room, and climbing gym made out of real stone from a mountain in the Pacific Northwest. Its lushly landscaped property has a stream brimming with salmon and trout, and a private beach with sand imported from Hawaii. 

Gates also got to keep his private plane, a Bombardier Challenger 604 business jet, which he purchased in 1997 for $21 million — although he has received criticism from climate change groups due to the pollution he causes by flying private.

What is Bill Gates doing now?

In addition to his work with the Gates Foundation, Gates has admitted that as he has gotten older, he has been taking more vacations than he used to (the famous workaholic once boasted that once Microsoft was off the ground, he "only" put in 8-hour days at the office on the weekends). He spends time with his family and now his grandchildren, and continues his love of books: The voracious reader has said that as he handed the reins off at Microsoft, he started educating himself on world issues, fomenting his charitable bent.

“Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped drive me forward in my career and in the work that I do now with my foundation,” he told Time magazine.

His Gates Notes website devotes a section to his current recommendations, which he frequently updates.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending