William (Bill) H. Gates is chairman of Microsoft Corporation, the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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. He shares his thoughts about the foundation and other topics
on Gates Notes, a Web site launched in January 2010. Gates continues to serve as
Microsoft's chairman and as an advisor on key development projects. In June
2006, Craig Mundie assumed the new title of chief research and strategy officer
at Microsoft and is responsible for the company's research and incubation
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
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 industry-leading investment in research and development
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 is available in more than 60 countries.
"Business @ the Speed of Thought" has received wide critical acclaim, and was
listed on the best-seller lists of the "New York Times", "USA Today", "The Wall
Street Journal" and on Amazon.com. Gates' previous book, "The Road Ahead",
published in 1995, was at the top of the "New York Times" bestseller list for
Gates has donated the proceeds of both books to non-profit organizations that
support the use of technology in education and skills development.
In addition to his love of computers and software, Gates 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. He is also a member of the board of directors of
Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which invests in companies engaged in diverse business
Philanthropy is very important to Gates. He and his wife, Melinda, started a
foundation in 2000 to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the
world. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports philanthropic initiatives in
the areas of global health and learning, with the hope that in the 21st century,
advances in these critical areas will be available for all people. To learn more
about the foundation, visit
Gates was married on Jan. 1, 1994, to Melinda French Gates. They have three
children. Gates is an avid reader, and enjoys playing golf, tennis and bridge.
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