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Learning English - Words in the News
27 June, 2008 - Published 10:15 GMT
Gates steps down
Bill Gates

The chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, is stepping down from his daily job at the world's largest software company today. Gates, who made his fortune through developing computer software, plans to devote his time to charity work. This report from Peter Bowes:

Listen to the story

As a teenager Bill Gates had a vision of a personal computer on every desk in every home. He says he caught sight of the future and based his career on what he saw. The son of a successful lawyer from Seattle, Gates programmed his first computer at the age of 13. During his two years at Harvard University he spent much of his time finessing his programming skills, as well as enjoying the occasional all night poker session.

He eventually dropped out of college and moved to Albuquerque, in New Mexico, where he set up Microsoft with his childhood friend, Paul Allen. Their big break came in 1980 when Microsoft signed an agreement with IBM to build the operating system that became known as MS-DOS. Microsoft went public in 1986 and within a year Bill Gates, at 31, had become the youngest self-made billionaire.

Now 52, he still has boyish looks, but he's no longer the world's richest man. He's been overtaken by the investor Warren Buffett and the Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim.

But Gates' fortune is at the root of his decision to leave his day job and concentrate on his charitable organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He'll remain as Microsoft's chairman and work on special technology projects, but according to Gates, great wealth brings great responsibility and his future work will include finding new vaccines and financing projects in the developing world.

Peter Bowes, BBC News, Los Angeles

Listen to the words

caught sight of the future
had a vision of what the future would be like

here, refining; improving by developing/learning new, better techniques

a game played with cards in which people try to win money from each other

dropped out of
stopped studying at

set up
founded, established

big break
lucky opportunity to become very successful

Microsoft went public
Microsoft's shares became available for everyone to buy

telecom tycoon
someone who has succeeded in the telecommunications industry and become very wealthy and powerful through their success (telecommunications stands for the sending and receiving of sound, images or data over distance, using radio or electrical/optical lines)

at the root of
the main reason for

great wealth brings great responsibility
having a lot of money puts you under greater pressure to spend it on good causes

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