Bill Gates: The life of the philanthropist and founder of Microsoft

Bill Gates

When Gates was a child he was nicknamed the happy boy. “I had a little sister who didn’t hit me or anything like that. He smiled all the time”, he tells himself in the Netflix docuseries.

Bill Gates was born in Seattle, Washington on October 28, 1955. He is the son of Henry Gates, a lawyer and philanthropist, and Mary Ann Maxwell Gates, a businesswoman, activist, and teacher. And although Gates mentions that her greatest support was always her mother, she also acknowledges that she had problems with her in adolescence, where one night she even insulted her and her father threw a glass of water at her so apologize to her. After that event, they went to therapy.

He studied at Lakeside, an elite private school in Seattle, which influenced him for life. This was the only school that in 1968 had a computer that Gates was able to explore. In addition, it was there that he also met Paul Allen, his best friend and with whom he would later found Microsoft.

As it seems to be a tradition among technologists, he entered Harvard to study but still as a student, on April 4, 1975, he created Microsoft and abandoned his studies.

Microsoft’s creation

Microsoft is a portmanteau of “microcomputer” and “software.” Together with Allen, they created Windows 1.0, the first 16-bit graphics program, in 1985. It cost $99 and required a computer with a minimum of 320k of RAM, a graphics card, and a floppy drive.

Since its creation, Microsoft has been full of inventions that have revolutionized the technology industry, since its premise from the beginning was to make the computer language accessible. It was even the International Business Machine Corporation (IBM) that requested that Microsoft produce essential software and an operating system for its first personal computer, the IBM PC.

In 1995 they launched Windows 95, the operating system that led them to success. They introduced significant improvements such as a taskbar and start button and it was also the same year that they decided to launch into the World Wide Web with their main online service and Internet access, MSN (Microsoft Network).

Another of his great inventions was in 2001, with the creation of the Xbox.

But in 2008, after 33 years, Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft, citing that it was to devote more time to his philanthropic foundation. Although he did not completely leave the company at that time, as he was still part of the board of directors, a scandal in 2020 pushed him to resign completely, due to accusations against him of engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with a company employee.

Personal life and foundation

Bill Gates’ only wife was Melinda Ann French, with whom he was married for 27 years.

They met when Melinda was working at Microsoft. “She had other boyfriends, I had Microsoft,” Gates mentions in the docuseries. Eventually, as the romance became more serious, Bill proposed to Melinda and they were married in 1994, in Hawaii. Together they had three children: Jennifer, Rory, and Phoebe.

Melinda and Gates founded the foundation that currently bears their name in 2000. Her official page mentions that there are two main values ​​that revolve around her: empathy and optimism towards the future. Since then, the private foundation has dedicated itself to different social causes to combat inequality, poverty and disease around the world.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), between 2013 and 2020 the foundation has topped the list of philanthropic entities that have allocated the largest financial donations.

However, the marriage broke up in 2021. In an interview with CBS, Melinda mentioned that the split “wasn’t because of one thing or anything in particular. The time just came when she was no longer healthy and she couldn’t trust what we had anymore.”

And it is that Gates was involved in several controversies in recent years. From the affair he had with an employee of his company that was later confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson, to his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the tycoon convicted of child sex trafficking.

In the same interview, Melinda mentioned that the relationship between her husband and Epstein never seemed right to her. And it is that, according to a New York Times publication, Gates met with Epstein on numerous occasions and even stayed late at night with him.

Faced with these accusations, Gates’s response in an interview was: “I have a responsibility for having caused my family a lot of pain.”

Publications and talks

Gates is not only concerned with combating virtual viruses in its software; he also has a concern for viruses in the world.

He attributes that, thanks to his work at the foundation, he has come to understand how viruses work. In a Ted Talk he gave in 2015, he mentioned that: “If something is going to kill more than 10 million people in the next few decades it will probably be a highly infectious virus, rather than war” and stressed the importance of preventing infections.

He published a book titled “How to Prevent the next pandemic”, where he talks about the lessons learned from COVID-19 and how to prevent a similar disease from happening again.

In addition, he has other publications such as his book “Road to the Future”, where he summarizes the evolution of personal computers and describes a future changed by the arrival of the global information superhighway, and “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: the solutions that already we have and the progress we still need.”

Gates mentioned that he has an obligation to return his resources to society in ways that can have an impact on reducing the suffering of others and improving people’s lives. He recently tweeted that he plans to donate all of his wealth to the foundation and be removed from the list of the world’s richest people.