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Bill gates biography

William H. Gates

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Microsoft Corporation

William (Bill) H. Gates is chairman and chief executive officer of

Microsoft Corporation, the leading provider, worldwide, of software

for the personal computer. Microsoft had revenues of $8.6 billion for

the fiscal year ending June 1996, and employs more than 20,000

people in 48 countries.

Born on October 28, 1955, Gates and his two sisters grew up in

Seattle. 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 began his

career in personal computer software, programming computers at age 13.

In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University as a freshman, where he lived down the hall from

Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft's executive vice president for sales and support. While at

Harvard, Gates developed the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer -- the

MITS Altair.

In his junior year, Gates dropped out of Harvard to devote his energies to

Microsoft, a company he had begun in 1975 with Paul Allen. Guided by a

belief that the personal computer would be a valuable tool on every office

desktop and in every home, they began developing software for personal


Gates' foresight and vision regarding personal computing have been central

to the success of Microsoft and the software industry. Gates is actively involved in key

management and strategic decisions at Microsoft, and plays an important role in the technical

development of new products. A significant portion of his time is devoted to meeting with

customers and staying in contact with Microsoft employees around the world through e-mail.

Under Gates' leadership, Microsoft's mission is 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 $2 billion on

research and development in the current fiscal year.

As of December 12, 1996, Gates' Microsoft stock holdings totaled


In 1995, Gates wrote The Road Ahead, his vision of where information technology will take

society. Co-authored by Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's chief technology officer, and Peter

Rinearson, The Road Ahead held the No. 1 spot on the New York Times' bestseller list for

seven weeks. Published in the U.S. by Viking, the book was on the NYT list for a total of 18

weeks. Published in more than 20 countries, the book sold more than 400,000 copies in China

alone. In 1996, while redeploying Microsoft around the Internet, Gates thoroughly revised The

Road Ahead to reflect his view that interactive networks are a major milestone in human

history. The paperback second edition has also become a bestseller. Gates is donating his

proceeds from the book to a non-profit fund that supports teachers worldwide who are

incorporating computers into their classrooms.

In addition to his passion for computers, Gates is interested in

biotechnology. He sits on the board of the Icos Corporation and is a

shareholder in Darwin Molecular, a subsidiary of British-based

Chiroscience. He also founded Corbis Corporation, which is developing

one of the largest resources of visual information in the world-a

comprehensive digital archive of art and photography from public and

private collections around the globe. Gates also has invested with

cellular telephone pioneer Craig McCaw in Teledesic, a company that is working on an

ambitious plan to launch hundreds of low-orbit satellites around the globe to provide worldwide

two-way broadband telecommunications service.

In the decade since Microsoft has gone public, Gates has donated more than $270 million to

charities, including $200 million to the William H. Gates Foundation. The focus of Gates' giving

is in three areas: education, population issues and access to technology.

Gates was married on Jan. 1, 1994 to Melinda French Gates. They have one child, Jennifer

Katharine Gates, born in 1996.

Gates is an avid reader and enjoys playing golf and bridge.

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