Full Name: William Henry Gates III
Born : October 28, 1955 (age 64)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Occupation: Software developer
William Henry Gates III is an American business magnate, software developer, investor, and philanthropist. He is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), president and chief software architect, while also being the largest individual shareholder until May 2014. He is one of the best-known entrepreneurs and pioneers of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.
Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1955. His ancestry includes English, German, and Irish/Scots-Irish. His father was a prominent lawyer, and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way of America. Gates has an older sister Kristi (Kristianne) and a younger sister Libby. In his life, Gates observed that his parents wanted him to pursue a law career. Gates was small for his age and was bullied as a child. He preferred to stay in his room where he would shout “I’m thinking” when his mother asked what he was doing.
At 13, he enrolled in the private Lakeside prep school, and he wrote his first software program. He wrote his first computer program in the eighth grade, an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. The following year, a Lakeside teacher enlisted Gates and Evans to automate the school’s class-scheduling system, providing them computer time and royalties in return. The two friends wrote the school’s student information system software to schedule students in classes, and Gates modified the code so that he was placed in classes with “a disproportionate number of interesting girls.” The duo worked diligently in order to have the program ready for their senior year. Towards the end of their junior year, Evans was killed in a mountain climbing accident, which Gates has described as one of the saddest days of his life. Gates then turned to Allen who helped him finish the system for Lakeside.
At 17, Gates formed a venture with Allen called Traf-O-Data to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor. In 1972, he served as a congressional page in the House of Representatives. He was a National Merit Scholar when he graduated from Lakeside School in 1973. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) and enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973. He chose a pre-law major but took mathematics and graduate level computer science courses. While at Harvard, he met fellow student Steve Ballmer. Gates left Harvard after two years while Ballmer stayed and graduated magna cum laude. Ballmer succeeded Gates as Microsoft’s CEO years later and maintained that position from 2000 until his resignation in 2014.
Gates devised an algorithm for pancake sorting as a solution to one of a series of unsolved problems presented in a combinatorics class by professor Harry Lewis. His solution held the record as the fastest version for over 30 years. His solution was formalized in a published paper in collaboration with Harvard computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou.
Gates married Melinda French on a golf course on the Hawaiian island of Lanai on January 1, 1994. They have three children. The family resides in Xanadu 2.0, an earth-sheltered mansion in the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Medina, Washington. In 2009, property taxes on the mansion were reported to be US$1.063 million, on a total assessed value of US$147.5 million. The 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) estate has a 60-foot (18 m) swimming pool with an underwater music system, as well as a 2,500-square-foot (230 m2) gym and a 1,000-square-foot (93 m2) dining room.
Gates is an avid reader, and the ceiling of his large home library is engraved with a quotation from The Great Gatsby. He also enjoys playing bridge, tennis, and golf.Gates’ days are planned for him on a minute-by-minute basis, similar to the U.S. President’s schedule.
Gates has held the top spot on the list of The World’s Billionaires for 18 out of the past 23 years. Gates has several investments outside Microsoft, which in 2006 paid him a salary of US$616,667 and US$350,000 bonus totalling US$966,667. In 1989, he founded Corbis, a digital imaging company. In 2004, he became a director of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company headed by long-time friend Warren Buffett. In 2016, he was discussing his gaming habits when he revealed that he was color-blind.
Gates co-founded Microsoft with childhood friend Paul Allen in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; it went on to become the world’s largest personal computer software company. Gates led the company as chairman and CEO until stepping down as CEO in January 2000, but he remained chairman and became chief software architect. During the late 1990s, Gates had been criticized for his business tactics, which have been considered anti-competitive. This opinion has been upheld by numerous court rulings. In June 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning to a part-time role at Microsoft and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the private charitable foundation that he and his wife, Melinda Gates, established in 2000. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie. He stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in February 2014 and assumed a new post as a technology adviser to support the newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella.
Later in his career and since leaving day-to-day operations at Microsoft in 2008, Gates pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors. He donated large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reported to be the world’s largest private charity. In 2009, Gates and Warren Buffett founded The Giving Pledge, whereby they and other billionaires pledge to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropy. The foundation works to save lives and improve global health and is working with Rotary International to eliminate polio.
In 1987, Gates was listed as a billionaire in Forbes magazine’s 400 Richest People in America issue. He was worth $1.25 billion and was the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. Since 1987, Gates has been included in the Forbes The World’s Billionaires list and was the wealthiest from 1995 to 1996, 1998 to 2007, 2009, and has been since 2014. Gates was number one on the Forbes 400 list from 1993 through to 2007, 2009, and 2014 through 2017.
Time magazine named Gates one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005, and 2006.
Time also collectively named Gates, his wife Melinda and U2’s lead singer Bono as the 2005 Persons of the Year for their humanitarian efforts. In 2006, he was voted eighth in the list of “Heroes of our time”.
Gates was listed in the Sunday Times power list in 1999, named CEO of the year by Chief Executive Officers magazine in 1994, ranked number one in the “Top 50 Cyber Elite” by Time in 1998, ranked number two in the Upside Elite 100 in 1999, and was included in The Guardian as one of the “Top 100 influential people in media” in 2001.
Gates was elected Member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 1996 “for contributions to the founding and development of personal computing”.
He was named Honorary Member of the American Library Association in 1998.
He was elected a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 2017.
According to Forbes, Gates was ranked as the fourth most powerful person in the world in 2012, up from fifth in 2011.
In 1994, he was honored as the 20th Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society (DFBCS). In 1999, Gates received the New York Institute of Technology’s President’s Medal.
Gates has received honorary doctorates from Nyenrode Business Universiteit (2003), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (2002), Waseda University (2005), Tsinghua University (2007), Harvard University (2007), the Karolinska Institute (2007), and Cambridge University (2009).
He was also made an honorary trustee of Peking University in 2007.
Gates was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005.
In November 2006, he was awarded the Placard of the Order of the Aztec Eagle, together with his wife Melinda who was awarded the Insignia of the same order, both for their philanthropic work around the world in the areas of health and education, particularly in Mexico, and specifically in the program “Un país de lectores”.
Gates received the 2010 Bower Award for Business Leadership from The Franklin Institute for his achievements at Microsoft and his philanthropic work.
Also in 2010, he was honored with the Silver Buffalo Award by the Boy Scouts of America, its highest award for adults, for his service to youth.
In 2002, Bill and Melinda Gates received the Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged.
He was given the 2006 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award from the Tech Awards.
In 2015 Gates, along with his wife Melinda, received Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award for their social work in the country.
Barack Obama honored Bill and Melinda Gates with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their philanthropic efforts in 2016, and François Hollande awarded Bill and Melinda in the following year with France’s highest national order – as Commander of the Legion of Honour for their charity efforts.
Entomologists named Bill Gates’ flower fly, Eristalis gates, in his honor in 1997.