AFRICANGLOBE – Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is second richest man in the world, with a net worth of approximately $81 billion. At the mention of his name, your first thought is wealth, philanthropy, or tech; but there is more to Gates than these three.
- Bill Gates was born into a working-class family in the 50’s; his father was a lawyer, and his mother, a school teacher.
- As a child, he was brilliant with a zest for knowledge; he finished the ‘World Book Encyclopedia’ series as a teenager.
- Gates attended the Lakeside School, an exclusive high school in Seattle. There he wrote his first computer program at the age of thirteen on a General Electric computer, and continued writing the schools computer program for scheduling students in classes. He also met future Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen at Lakeside school.
- As young teenagers Gates and Allen ran a small company called Traf-O-Data and sold a computer to the city of Seattle that could count city traffic.
- Gates graduated high school as a National Merit Scholar; he scored a 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs.
Harvard and the Conception of Microsoft
- Gates entered Harvard in 1973 as a pre-law major, but later changed course, attending upper-level math and computer science classes. While at Harvard, he met Steve Ballmer in a graduate level economics class, the man who later succeeded him as CEO of Microsoft.
- Gates dropped out of Harvard in 1975 to found Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen. And in 2007, Harvard awarded him an honorary doctorate. “I’m a bad influence. That’s why I was invited to speak at your graduation,” he said during the ceremony. “If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.”
- Microsoft was born and first situated in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company was later moved to Seattle in 1979.
- Windows went public in 1986. The following year, Gates was a billionaire aged 31. In 1995, Gates had an estimated fortune of $12.9 billion, making him World’s richest man. He has been America’s richest man for 21 years straight.
Family, friends, and Interests
- Gates met wife, Melinda French in 1987, at a press event. They married in 1994, and have three children; two daughters and a son.
- Gates enjoys attending his daughters’ equestrian competitions as well as educational trips with his son.
- He also likes going on philanthropy trips with wife.
- Gates has said his children would only get a fraction of his $81 billion net worth, $10 million each. He’s quoted to have said, “Leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favour to them.”
- Gates is close friends with investment magnate, Warren buffet. Buffet helped Gates pick an engagement ring when he wanted to propose to Melinda in 1994. He is also close friends with Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.
- Gates has interests in Artificial Intelligence, Super Intelligence, and foreign language. He says he would’ve been a researcher for artificial intelligence had Microsoft flopped, and also regrets not knowing any foreign language.
- Gate loves Rock music, his favourites being, Weezer, U2, and Spinal Tap.
- Gates run a blog called gatesnotes, where he shares stories of people he meets, books read, and lessons learnt. He is a voracious reader, having read quite a number of books, which he reviews on his blog.
Luxuries and Splurges
- Bill and Melinda own a 66,000-square-foot high-tech home nicknamed Xanadu 2.0 in Medina, Washington. The house accommodates 24 bathrooms, a garage big enough to house over 20 cars, a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system, as well as a 2,500 square foot gym and computerized pins that the house can read to customize music, temperature, and lighting. The Xanadu is worth an estimated $121 million.
- Gates also own a Mediterranean-style home in Wellington, Florida; a home he bought for $87 million. The home has 20-stall barn and a show-jumping arena.
- In 1997, Gates paid $21 million for his private jet, which he calls his “big splurge.” “Owning a plane is a guilty pleasure,” he said during an AMA on Reddit.
- In the early years of Microsoft, Gates bought a 1979 Porsche 911 that he raced around the desert with. Over the years, he’s owned a Mercedes, a Ferrari 348, a Porsche 930 Turbo, a Carrera Cabriolet 964, and a Jaguar XJ6.
- The Codex Leicester, a collection of writings by Leonardo da Vinci was acquired by Gates at a 1994 auction for $30.8 million.
- In 1998, Gates paid $36 million for Winslow Homer’s art work, ‘Lost on the Grand Banks.’ He also owns pieces by American artists Andrew Wyeth and William Merritt Chase.
Brush with the Law
- In 1977, Gates was arrested in New Mexico for driving without a licence and running a red light.
- In 1998, Microsoft was charged to court on grounds that the company was abusing its power as a software monopoly.
By Hadassah Egbedi