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Bill Gates's Biography

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Bill (William Henry) Gates was born on 28 October, 1955 in Seattle, Washington.

His father was an attorney and his mother a schoolteacher.

In the introduction before his interview with Bill Gates, the BBC's Jeremy Paxman said that the young Gates was "a difficult little sod whose parents ended up sending him to a child psychologist because they thought he was underachieving."

Bill Gates first came across computers at 12, and the precocious Gates began programming computers as a 13-year-old at Lakeside school, and by 17, he had sold a computer program (a timetabling system for the school).

It was at Lakeside that Bill Gates met fellow student Paul Allen, who was to be a co-founder of Microsoft.

Gates and Allen were amongst the very first people to buy a computer on a chip in 1971 but it had very little capability.

By 1973, however, the chip had progressed and Gates entered Harvard University, where he developed a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer - the MITS Altair.

Bill Gates went on leave from Harvard and focussed on Microsoft, which he and Allen established in 1975. Gates said in his interview with Paxman that he was fascinated by software and that he and his friends wanted to create software that empowered people and when developing, they thought what 'would we like to see'.

They had a huge break five years later when an agreement was signed to provide the operating system that became known as MS-DOS, for IBM's new personal computer. Crucially, Microsoft was allowed to licence the operating system to other manufacturers, spawning an industry of "IBM-compatible" PCs which depended on Microsoft's operating system.

Bill Gates became a billionaire by 1986 and by the start of the new millenium was thought to be the world richest individual.

In 2000 Gates stepped down from his post as CEO of Microsoft and took on the title Chief Software Architect to focus on software development.

In June 2006 Microsoft announced that from July 2008, Bill Gates would concentrate on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and, although, he would keep his post as Microsoft's chairman, he would only spend 20 percent of his time there.

Bill Gates has also written two best-sellers: The Road Ahead and Business @ the Speed of Thought.

Gates and his wife Melinda have given huge amounts to charity through their foundation, which targets health and education. Time magazine, who made them (along with Bono) the 2005 persons of the year praised them for their philanthropy.

In spite of being the biggest charitable giver in history, nevertheless the world's first 100 billion dollar man is a hate figure to some.

Rupert Murdoch has said that Bill Gates wants to take over the world - Gates's response when this was put to him by Jeremy Paxman was: "he's hiding behind me - he's your man."

On March 2, 2005 Bill Gates received the insignia of an honorary knighthood at Buckingham Palace. The Queen and Bill Gates talked about computers, travel and the work of his charitable foundation.

In March 2008, Forbes announced that Warren Buffett had toppled Bill Gates from the top spot on their list of billionaires.

Up until then, Bill Gates had been regarded as the world's richest man for thirteen years, however, although his wealth was estimated to rise by $2 billion to $58 billion, he came in third behind Buffett and Mexican, Carlos Slim.

In 2009 he took first spot again, only to be overtaken by Carlos Slim in 2010.

In May 2005 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders rubber-stamped the appointment of Bill Gates to their board. Berkshire's Chairman, Warren Buffett is a close friend of Bill Gates.

The BBC had an article entitled Bill Gates: how a geek changed the world to tie in with his departure from full-time work at Microsoft at the end of June 2008.

In February 2014, It was announced that Bill Gates was stepping down as chairman of Microsoft, but would become a technology adviser and stay on Microsoft's board.

In March 2020, Bill Gates stepped down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to spend more time on his philanthropic activities.

In May 2021, Bill and Melinda Gates revealed they were getting divorced after 27 years of marriage. They had three children.

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