William Henry Gates III, commonly known as Bill Gates (born October 28, 1955 in Seattle, United States) is the founder, chairman and former chief executive of Microsoft. He stepped down as the CEO in 2008 to focus on his work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, while remaining involved in development projects at Microsoft. He also founded the visual information company Corbis in 1999, and has written best-selling books on technology. He married Melinda Gates in 1994, with whom he has three children. In 2021, the couple announced they are planning to divorce.
Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, to William H. Gates, an attorney, and Mary Gates, a teacher. He was programming computers by the age of 13, and entered Harvard University in 1973, where he met Steve Ballmer, later Microsoft's CEO. At Harvard, Gates developed a version of the BASIC programming language for the Altair 8800, the first microcomputer, but left in his third year to develop a company with Paul Allen that focused on software for personal computers. Initially named "Micro-Soft" by Allen, Microsoft launched in 1975. The following year, Gates penned a widely-published open letter to computer users who widely shared software in violation of copyright, attacking the practice for its impact on developers.
Gates wrote The Road Ahead in 1995, a best-selling book on the future of the internet, with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson. In 1999, Gates wrote Business @ the Speed of Thought with Collins Hemingway on the subject of integrating business with technology, which also became a best-seller.
- Microsoft: 'Bill Gates'. Official biography. Updated August 3, 2011.
- Melinda Gates Was Meeting With Divorce Lawyers Since 2019 to End Marriage With Bill Gates, The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2021. Melinda French Gates had discussions with lawyers in October 2019 around when the Microsoft co-founder’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein became public.