American entrepreneur who, after dropping out of college, cofounded Microsoft® Corporation in 1977 to produce his basic operating system (DOS) for computers. In 1981 International Business Machines (IBM®) adopted his system for its computers, thereby boosting his career. Microsoft became a public company in the 1980s, and as its share price soared, Gates became one of the wealthiest men in the world. In the 1990s the U.S. government brought a lawsuit against Microsoft for allegedly violating antitrust legislation. The parties settled out of court in 2001.