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Bill Gates is co-founder, technology advisor and board member of Microsoft. He served as chairman of the board until Feb. 4, 2014.
On June 27, 2008, Gates transitioned out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates continues to serve on Microsoft’s board of directors and as an advisor on key development projects.
Born on Oct. 28, 1955, Gates grew up in Seattle with his two sisters. Their father, William H. Gates II, is a Seattle attorney (retired). Their late mother, Mary Gates, was a schoolteacher, University of Washington regent and chairwoman of United Way International.
Gates attended public elementary school and the private Lakeside School. There, he discovered his interest in software and began programming computers at age 13 with his classmate and friend, Paul Allen.
In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University as a freshman, where he lived down the hall from Steve Ballmer. While at Harvard, Gates developed a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer — the MITS Altair.
In his junior year, Gates left Harvard to devote his energies to Microsoft, a company he had begun in 1975 with Paul Allen. Driven by the belief that the computer would soon be a valuable tool on every desk and in every home, they began developing software for personal computers. Gates’ foresight and his vision for personal computing have been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry.
In 1999, Gates wrote “Business @ the Speed of Thought,” a book that shows how computer technology can solve business problems in fundamentally new ways. The book was published in 25 languages and in more than 60 countries. “Business @ the Speed of Thought” received wide critical acclaim and was listed on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and Amazon. Gates’ previous book, “The Road Ahead,” a visionary stance on the future of the personal computer and the internet, was published in 1995 and spent seven weeks at the top of The New York Times bestseller list. Gates has donated the proceeds of both books to nonprofit organizations that support the use of technology in education and skills development.
Gates and his wife, Melinda, started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.
In 2010, Gates, Melinda, and Warren Buffett founded the Giving Pledge, an effort to encourage the wealthiest families and individuals to publicly commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropic causes and charitable organizations during their lifetime or in their will.
In 2015, Gates created the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of individuals and entities committed to clean energy innovation, followed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures in 2016, an investor-led fund focused on providing patient capital to support cutting-edge clean energy companies.
Gates is also a member of the board of directors of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which invests in companies engaged in diverse business activities.
Gates is married to Melinda French Gates, and they have three children. Gates is an avid reader, and enjoys playing golf, tennis and bridge. He shares his thoughts about his work on global health and development, education, energy innovation and climate change, Alzheimer’s disease, recent books he has read, and other topics on his personal blog, Gates Notes.