Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was born on July 18, 1950, in Surrey, England. His father, Edward James Branson, worked as a barrister. His mother, Eve Branson, was employed as a flight attendant. Richard, who struggled with dyslexia, had a hard time with educational institutions. He nearly failed out of the all-boys Scaitcliffe School, which he attended until the age of 13. He then transferred to Stowe School, a boarding school in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England.
Still struggling, Branson dropped out at the age of 16 to start a youth-culture magazine called Student. The publication, run by students, for students, sold $8,000 worth of advertising in its first edition, which was launched in 1966. The first run of 50,000 copies was disseminated for free, after Branson covered the costs with advertising.
By 1969, Branson was living in a London commune, surrounded by the British music and drug scene. It was during this time that Branson had the idea to begin a mail-order record company called Virgin to help fund his magazine efforts. The company performed modestly, but made Branson enough that he was able to expand his business venture, adding a record shop in Oxford Street, London. With the success of the record shop, the high school drop-out was able to build a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire, England.
Steve Jobs’ vision of a “computer for the rest of us” sparked the PC revolution and made Apple an icon of American business. But somewhere along the way, Jobs’ vision got clouded — some say by his ego — and he was ousted from the company he helped found. Few will disagree that Jobs did indeed impede Apple’s growth, yet without him, the company lost its sense of direction and pioneering spirit. After nearly 10 years of plummeting sales, Apple turned to its visionary founder for help, and a little older and wiser Jobs engineered one of the most amazing turnarounds of the 20th century.
The adopted son of a Mountain View, Calif., machinist, Steve Jobs showed an early interest in electronics and gadgetry. While in high school, he boldly called Hewlett-Packard co-founder and president William Hewlett to ask for parts for a school project. Impressed by Jobs, Hewlett not only gave him the parts, but also offered him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard. It was there that Jobs met and befriended Steve Wozniak, a young engineer five years his senior with a penchant for tinkering.
After graduating from high school, Jobs enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Ore. but dropped out after one semester. He had become fascinated by Eastern spiritualism and took a part-time job designing video games for Atari in order to finance a trip to India to study Eastern culture and religion.
Born the son of a lawyer (father) and teacher (mother), William Henry Gates was a middle child in a well-to-do family in Seattle, Washington. He was always a highly motivated child. By some accounts, he was the equivalent of today’s “nerd” playing with computers while other kids played with each other. His interest in the computer started with an early tele-type machine through a time-share program. Gates learned BASIC (programming language) and earned the right to use the machine as a trade-off for maintaining the equipment. He met Paul Allen a 10th grade electronics buff to learn more about the hardware and programming. While Gates was a “techie”, he possessed the very unusual gift of insight and most importantly vision for what the hardware would require to provide “utility” to the masses.
After several years of learning and thinking he graduated the private Lakeside School and then went on to Harvard. He dropped out of Harvard to pursue his passion to create the “operating software” for computer hardware companies. In 1972 with Paul Allen they created Traf-O-Data, a company that sold a computer to analyze traffic data. Their eyes then came upon a microcomputer called the Altair offered by MITS Computer and began to provide programming languages. At one point as the consummate entrepreneur, he attempted to sell software to a company that he didn’t even own!! in order to get the business. From the Altair, Gates saw the personal computer as the future.