William H. Gates Biography (1955-)


William Gates, the son of a prominent Seattle, Washington lawyer, was an underachieving math whiz in school. He was first exposed to digital computers while in the seventh grade and worked on various computer projects for the nextseveral years. While in high school, Gates and a friend, Paul Allen, formed acompany called Traf-Data, which used the Intel 8008 microprocessor to help control traffic patterns in Seattle. Gates eventually sold this system to thecity for $20,000 when he was only fifteen years old. He dropped out of high school for one year to work for TRW in computing, earning $30,000. In 1974 Gates was attending Harvard University when Allen spotted an advertisement for a$350 assemble-at-home computer called the Altair 8800, manufactured by MITS,a company headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gates and Allen worked nonstop for six weeks to devise a simple version of BASIC, a programming language, for the Altair. They demonstrated their finished product to the company's engineers with great success, and the following year, Gates and Allen founded Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft had entered the personal computer (PC) industry at an opportune time. The Apple Computer Corporation had introduced its Apple II personal computer with much success. International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) decided to enter the market but needed software designedfor specific tasks and an operating system that permitted hardware to interpret the software. In 1980 Microsoft won a contract with IBM to operate personal computers using a system called DOS. By 1983 the IBM-compatible PCs had become the industry standard with the DOS operating system. In 1995, Microsoftintroduced Windows 95 which again revolutionized the PC market, and became anindustry standard. In 1991 Gates was ranked number three on the Forbes magazine list of the wealthiest Americans, with his share of Microsoft valued at approximately $4 billion. By 1998 he had become the richest man in theworld, and he retained that status into 2004. In addition to operating systems, Microsoft produces software for word processing, spreadsheets, games, andWindows, which allows PCs and their clones to use pictures and a mouse (pointing device) to eliminate complicated keyboard commands, much like Apple did for its computers. In 2004, Microsoft reported fiscal year revenues of $36.8 billion. The company employed 57,000 people in 83 countries.

Recent Updates

October 17, 2005: Gates donated $15 million to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Source: Forbes, www.forbes.com/2005/10/17/gates-computer-museum-cx_gl_1017autofacescan09.html, October 18, 2005.December 19, 2005: Gates, along with his wife Melinda and U2 singer Bono, were named Time's Persons of the Year for their charitable work towardreducing poverty and disease throughout the world. Source: Time, www.time.com, December 19, 2005.December 2, 2005: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced thatit will disburse $84.3 million in grants to Save the Children and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, for programs that fight infant mortality in developing countries. Source: Forbes, www.forbes.com/2005/12/02/gates-donation-philanthropy-cx_cn_1202autofacescan02.html, December 2, 2005.January 27, 2006: Gates announced that his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was increasing its spending on eradicating tuberculosis to $900 million. This is triple the foundation's previously announced spending on that goal. Source: Forbes, www.forbes.com/2006/01/27/gates-davos-philanthropy-cx_cn_0127autofacescan01.html, January 27, 2006.April 4, 2006: Gates's Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $75 million to the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) to fund development of an anti-pneumonia vaccine. Source: Forbes, www.forbes.com/2006/04/04/gates-billionaires-philanthropy-cx_cn_0404autofacescan09.html, April 4, 2006.April 19, 2006: Gates held a dinner at his home for visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao and 100 other notables. Source: BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4918802.stm, April 20, 2006; Reuters, http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyid=2006-04-19T021206Z_01_N17283159_RTRUKOC_0_US-CHINA-USA.xml, April 20, 2006.April 22, 2006: Gates traveled to Vietnam, where he met with the country's president and prime minister and spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of 7,000students at a Hanoi university. Source: BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4933290.stm, April 22, 2006.June 15, 2006: Gates announced that he would begin to reduce his rolein the day-to-day running of Microsoft. He stepped down as the company's chief software architect, effective immediately, and announced that he would giveup all of his managerial positions at the company in July of 2008. After that point Gates will continue to be Microsoft's chairman and a part-time technical adviser to the company, but he will devote most of his time to directingthe activities of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Source: Reuters, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=businessNews&storyid=2006-06-15T232201Z_01_WEN9583_RTRUKOC_0_US-MICROSOFT.xml, June 15, 2006.June 22, 2006: Gates' Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $13.6million to the University of York to fund anti-malaria research. Source: Forbes, www.forbes.com/facesscan/2006/06/22/microsoft-gates-philanthropy-cx_cn_0622autofacescan04.html, June 23, 2006.June 25, 2006: Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett pledged to makean annual gift of stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as long as either Bill or Melinda remain involved in directing the foundation's activities. Buffett also announced that he was re-writing his will so that the stock donations would continue after his death. The first year's gift, 500,000 shares, is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 billion. Source: Reuters, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=businessNews&storyid=2006-06-25T194621Z_01_N25370751_RTRUKOC_0_US-FINANCE-BUFFETT-CHARITY.xml, June25, 2006.June 26, 2006: British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that Gateswould help to fund a panel of international dignitaries who will monitor aidto Africa. The panel, which will track countries' progress toward meeting thegoals set at the Gleneagles G8 summit in 2005, will be chaired by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Source: BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/5115806.stm, July 3, 2006.July 20, 2006: Gates' Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced thatit would donate $287 million to 16 groups of scientists to fund research into a vaccine against HIV. Source: Forbes, www.forbes.com/facesscan/2006/07/20/gates-aids-philanthropy-cx_cn_0720autofacescan01.html, July 23,2006.

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