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About Bill

Married to: Melinda French Gates
Children: Three
Career
highlights:
Microsoft,
Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation

1955—
Born
Seattle, WA.

1973
Entered Harvard
University.

1967
Enrolled at Lakeside
School. First used computer.

1968
Began programming
with Paul Allen in the computer center.

Bill Gates is a technologist, business leader, and philanthropist. He grew up in Seattle, Washington, with an amazing and supportive family who encouraged his interest in computers at an early age. He dropped out of college to start Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. He married Melinda French in 1994 and they have three children. Today, Bill and Melinda Gates co-chair the charitable foundation bearing their names and are working together to give their wealth back to society.

Bill grew up in Seattle with his two sisters. His dad, William H. Gates II, is a Seattle attorney and one of the co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His late mother, Mary Gates, was a schoolteacher, University of Washington regent, and chairwoman of United Way International.

1976
Changed company name to Microsoft.

Microsoft

1975–

When Bill and Paul Allen started Microsoft, their vision of “a computer on every desktop and in every home” seemed farfetched to most people. Today, thanks to Microsoft and many other companies, that vision is a reality in many parts of the world, and personal technology is an integral part of society.

Bill is passionate about Microsoft’s work and will always be involved with the company, including his present role as a member of the board and technology advisor.

1975
Started Micro-Soft with Paul Allen in Albuquerque, NM.

1979
Microsoft moved to Washington State.

1985
Windows 1.0 launched.

1995
Windows 95 launched.

2000
Assumed role of Chief Software Architect, as Steve Ballmer assumed role of Microsoft CEO.

2001
The original Xbox released.

2008
Left his daily job at Microsoft.

2014
Stepped down as chairman. Remained on the board and began serving as technology advisor.

2000
Bill and Melinda officially
established the foundation. They also announced the first round of Gates Millennium Scholars, part of a $1 billion effort to help 20,000 young people afford college over the next two decades.

2002
The foundation completed efforts to help install 47,000 computers in 11,000 libraries in all 50 states. Ninety-five percent of libraries have computers with Internet access, up from 27 percent in 1996.

2006
Warren Buffett pledged the bulk of his wealth to the foundation.

2010
Bill and Melinda challenged the global health community to declare this the Decade of Vaccines. They pledged $10 billion over the next 10 years to help research, develop, and deliver vaccines for the world’s poorest countries.

2013
Bill helped launch a $5.5 billion effort to eradicate polio by 2018. India was certified polio-free by the World Health Organization, leaving only three countries that have never been free of the disease.

Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation

2000–

These days Bill focuses most of his time on the work he and Melinda are doing through their foundation. People are often surprised to hear him say that this work has a lot in common with his work at Microsoft. In both cases, he gets to bring together smart people and collaborate with them to solve big, tough problems.

Bill is gratified to know that the foundation and its many partners are helping people all over the world live healthier, more productive lives.

Other Interests

“ ...once you’ve found a solution that works, catalytic philanthropy can harness political and market forces to get those innovations to the people who need them most.”

In addition to the foundation’s work, Bill has separately taken on some projects to address issues that interest him personally, such as delivering clean energy to everyone who needs it.

In all his work—with the foundation and otherwise—he’s focused on what he calls catalytic philanthropy: investments in innovations that will improve life for the poorest. They’re solutions to problems where markets and governments underinvest.

2006
Bill helped launch TerraPower, a company that aims to provide the world with a more affordable, secure, and environmentally friendly form of nuclear energy.

2010
Melinda, Warren Buffett, and Bill launched the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest people to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy.

2014
Bill tried his hand at making a viral video with Jimmy Fallon. This has nothing to do with catalytic philanthropy–he just thought you might enjoy it.

A Message From Bill

I feel very lucky to get to connect with so many extraordinary people. Whenever I have the chance, I set aside a few minutes to share what I’m learning here on the Gates Notes. Thanks for reading.

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Read previous versions of the Annual Letter