Microsoft icon Bill Gates embraces Twitter universe

Bill Gates (SUPPLIED)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates started tweeting yesterday. Gates bid the Twitter community a "Hello World" around midday, and then followed that message with three more lauding efforts to raise aid funds for earthquake-devastated Haiti.

The recently-retired Microsoft legend's Twitter page bore a blue check-mark icon used to verify identities of famous people using the wildly popular microblogging service.

As sundown neared in the Pacific state of Washington where Gates lives, he had logged four tweets and signed on to "follow" messages at 40 other Twitter accounts including those of Microsoft and its new Bing search engine.

Twitter users that Gates was tracking ranged from Queen Rania of Jordan and US President Barack Obama to actress Ashley Tisdale, actor Ashton Kutcher, and Cern European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Gates was also following tweets from prestigious Ted conferences known for mind-bending themes and humanitarian missions.

"I'd like to welcome ‡billgates to the twitterverse," tweeted Kutcher, who had 4,396,936 followers at the microblogging services as of late yesterday.

Slightly more than 61,000 people signed on to follow Gates on his opening day tweeting.

The number of people following Gates rose steadily as word of his arrival among the "twitterati" ricocheted with increasing speed in "retweets" through the day.

Twitter, fuelled by smartphones and online bursts of 140 characters, soared to lofty heights over the past year and the number of users reportedly topped 40 million by the end of 2009.

Twitter is said to have spurned takeover offers worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Google and Facebook and its influence as a communications and news-breaking tool has been validated in a number of ways.

In June, the State Department asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance on the service because it was being used by protesters angered by the results of Iran's disputed presidential election.

 

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