Net Worth: USD
$46.6 billion (As At 2004)
Country of citizenship: United States
Residence: Medina, WA, United States
Marital Status: married , 3 children
Harvard University: Drop Out
William (Bill) H. Gates is chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft Corporation, the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. Microsoft had revenues of US$32.19 billion for the fiscal year ending June 2003, and employs more than 55,000 people in 85 countries and regions.
Born on Oct. 28, 1955, Gates grew up in Seattle with his two sisters. Their father, William H. Gates II, is a Seattle attorney. 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.
Top row: Steve Wood (left), Bob Wallace, Jim Lane. Middle row: Bob O'Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, Gordon Letwin. Bottom row: Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, Paul Allen. December 7, 1978.
In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University as a freshman, where he lived down the hall from Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft's chief executive officer. 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 his childhood friend Paul Allen. Guided by a belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office desktop 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.
Under Gates' leadership, Microsoft's mission has been to continually advance and improve software technology, and to make it easier, more cost-effective and more enjoyable for people to use computers. The company is committed to a long-term view, reflected in its investment of more than $6.8 billion on research and development in the current fiscal year.
In addition to his love of computers and software, Gates is interested in biotechnology. He sits on the board of ICOS, a company that specializes in protein-based and small-molecule therapeutics, and he is an investor in a number of other biotechnology companies. Gates also founded Corbis, which is developing one of the world's largest resources of visual information - a comprehensive digital archive of art and photography from public and private collections around the globe.
Philanthropy is also important to Gates. He and his wife, Melinda, have endowed a foundation with more than $24 billion to support philanthropic initiatives in the areas of global health and learning, with the hope that as we move into the 21st century, advances in these critical areas will be available for all people. To date, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than $3.2 billion to organizations working in global health; more than $2 billion to improve learning opportunities, including the Gates Library Initiative to bring computers, Internet Access and training to public libraries in low-income communities in the United States and Canada; more than $477 million to community projects in the Pacific Northwest; and more than $488 million to special projects and annual giving campaigns.
Gates was married on Jan. 1, 1994, to Melinda French Gates. They have three children. Gates is an avid reader, and enjoys playing golf and bridge.