William Henry “Bill” Gates III was born October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington. He is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist and author. He is also the former chief executive officer (CEO) and current chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen.
He is consistently ranked among the world’s richest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009. During his career at Microsoft, Gates has held the positions of CEO, chief software architect, and also remains the largest individual shareholder. He is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution.
Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in January 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect. In June 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work, and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates’ last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.
Bill Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, to William H. Gates, Sr and Mary Maxwell Gates. His parents are of English, German and Scots-Irish descent. His father was a well known lawyer, and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. Early on in his life, Gates’ parents has a career in law in mind for him.
At age 13, he enrolled in an exclusive preparatory school. In his eight grade, the Mothers Club at the school used proceeds from Lakeside School’s rummage sale to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric (GE) computer for the school’s students. Gates took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC, and was excused from math class to pursue his interest. He wrote his first computer program on this machine, an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. Gates was fascinated by the machine and how it would always execute software code to perfection. When he reflects back on that moment, he says, “There was just something neat about the machine.”
On April 4, 1975 along with his childhood friend Paul Allen who also had a passion in computer programming and was seeking to make a successful business utilizing each others skills launched Microsoft, which would go on to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980’s, followed by the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems. Together, they would also go on to dominate the office suite Microsoft Office.
Over the years, the company diversified into the video game industry with the Xbox as well as into the consumer electronics and digital services market with Zune, MSN and the Windows Phone OS. The company has gone on to create three billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees alone.
Apart from all his contributions to the software industry, Gates is also involved in a lot of social work. In 1994, Gates sold some of his Microsoft stock to create the William H. Gates Foundation. In 2000, he and his wife combined three family foundations to create the charitable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest, transparently operated charitable foundation in the world. As of 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates were the second-most generous philanthropists in America, having given over $28 billion to charity. They eventually plan to give away 95% of their wealth to charity.
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