Enrolled at Lakeside
School. First used computer.
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.
Changed company name to Microsoft.
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.
Started Micro-Soft with Paul Allen in Albuquerque, NM.
Microsoft moved to Washington State.
Windows 1.0 launched.
Windows 95 launched.
Assumed role of Chief Software Architect, as Steve Ballmer assumed role of Microsoft CEO.
The original Xbox released.
Left his daily job at Microsoft.
Stepped down as chairman. Remained on the board and began serving as technology advisor.
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.
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.
Warren Buffett pledged the bulk of his wealth to the foundation.
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.
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
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.
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.
Bill helped launch TerraPower, a company that aims to provide the world with a more affordable, secure, and
environmentally friendly form of nuclear energy.
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.
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.
Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions
Read previous versions of the Annual Letter