Biography of Bill Gates

Bill Gates


Photo by Thomas Hawk

Early Life

William Henry “Bill” Gates III was born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington to parents William H. Gates, Sr., and Mary Maxwell Gates. Gates’ father practised as a prominent lawyer, and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. Gates is the younger brother of Kristianne Gates, and the older brother of Libby Gates. At 13 Gates was a student at the Lakeside School, and exclusive preparatory school in his home town. While there, Gates took an interest in programming the school’s new GE system in BASIC and was excused from math classes to pursue this interest. His first computer program was written on this machine: an implementation of tic-tac-toe, that allowed users to play games against the computer. In 1973, Gates graduated from Lakeside School with a score of 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT. He went on to attend Harvard College in fall 1973, and while there met his future business partner, Steve Ballmer, whom he later appointed as CEP of Microsoft. With no definite study plan while enrolled at Harvard, Gates spent most of his time using the school’s computers. He had retained contact with Paul Allen, and joined him at Honeywell during the summer of 1974. The MITS Altair 8800 was released in the following year, based on the Intel 8080 CPU, and Gates with Allen saw this as an opportunity to start their own computer software company.


In 1975, Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), the creators of the new microcomputer, to inform them that he and other were working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform. The president of MITS, Ed Roberts agreed to meet them for a demonstration, and over the course of a few weeks, Allen and Gates developed an Altair emulator that ran on a minicomputer, and then the BASIC interpreter. The demonstration was a success and resulted in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC. Allen and Gates paired up in 1975, dubbing their partnership “Micro-Soft” before dropping the hyphen, and creating the trade name “Microsoft” in 1976.


After the sales of MS-DOS made Microsoft a major player n the industry, gates oversaw the company’s restructuring in 1981. Microsoft launched its first retail version of Microsoft Windows on November 20, 1985. From Microsoft’s founding in 1975 until 2006, Gates retained primary responsibility for the company’s product strategy. He aggressively broadened the company’s range of products and defended Microsoft’s achievements. Though his role at Microsoft was mostly in a managerial capacity, he was still an active software developer in the early years, particularly on the company’s programming language products. In 2006, Gates announced that he would relinquish his day to day role at Microsoft to focus more on philanthropy. His responsibilities were divided between ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie. After leaving Microsoft, Gates continued his philanthropy and among other projects.

Personal Life

On January 1, 1994, Gates married Melinda French from Dallas, Texas. They have three children together: Jennifer Katharine (1996), Rory John (1999) and Phoebe Adele (2002). Gates was number one on the “Forbes 400” list from 1993 through to 2007 and number one on the Forbes list of “The World’s Richest People” from 1995 to 2007 and in 2009.


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