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Bill Gates Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here is a look at the life of Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft.


Birth date: October 28, 1955

Birth place: Seattle, Washington

Birth name: William Henry Gates III

Father: William Henry Gates II, attorney

Mother: Mary (Maxwell) Gates, schoolteacher

Marriage: Melinda (French) Gates (January 1, 1994-August 2, 2021, divorced)

Children: Phoebe Adele, 2002; Rory John, 1999; Jennifer Katharine, 1996

Education: Attended Harvard University, 1973-1975

Other Facts

Was No. 1 on the Forbes World’s Billionaires List for 12 consecutive years from 1995 to 2007.

As of 2022, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has issued $71.4 billion in grant payments to charitable causes.

Microsoft is the world’s largest software company.


1968 – Begins programming computers at age 13.

1972 – While still in school, co-founds Traf-O-Data, a company which analyzes local traffic patterns.

Summer 1972 – Congressional page for the US House of Representatives.

1975 – Drops out of Harvard and co-founds Microsoft (formerly Micro Soft) with Paul Allen.

1977-1982 President of Microsoft.

1980 Develops MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) for IBM. Two million copies are sold by 1984, and by the early 1990s, more than 100 million copies are sold.

1981-2014 – Chairman of the Board of Directors for Microsoft.

1985Gates introduces the Microsoft Windows operating system to compete with Apple.

Mid to late-1980s Begins developing and promoting CD-ROM technology.

1987 – Becomes the youngest US billionaire, worth $1.25 billion at 31 years old.

1989 Founder of Corbis, a digital image company.

May 1998The US Department of Justice, 20 states and the District of Columbia all file lawsuits accusing Microsoft of using illegal, anti-competitive and exclusionary practices.

January 2000 Resigns as CEO of Microsoft and becomes chief software architect.

November 2001 Microsoft reaches a settlement with the Justice Department in the antitrust case. Nine states agree to the settlement but nine other states and the District of Columbia consider the imposed sanctions too lenient.

November 2002 – US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approves most of the proposed settlement between Microsoft and the Justice Department, ruling against the dissenting nine states and the District of Columbia.

March 2, 2005Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

December 18, 2005 – Named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” along with his wife Melinda and musician Bono.

June 15, 2006 – Announces that he will be giving up his daily role at Microsoft, effective July 2008, to concentrate on his humanitarian and educational interests.

June 7, 2007 – Delivers the commencement address at Harvard University, the school he dropped out of in 1975. He also receives an honorary degree.

June 27, 2008 Gates retires from day-to-day work at Microsoft to concentrate on philanthropy.

April 1, 2009Gates announces a partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Health to help fight an epidemic of tuberculosis in China, supported by a $33 million grant provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

January 29, 2010 – Gates Foundation announces it will donate $10 billion for vaccine research over the next 10 years.

February 4, 2014 – Steps down as chairman of the board of Microsoft.

November 30, 2015 – Assists in the launch of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition fund during the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. The private fund has more than 28 investors, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The fund is created to rally and increase investments in carbon-free and alternate energy solutions.

November 22, 2016 – Gates and his wife receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

November 13, 2017 – Gates announces he is investing $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a private-public partnership focused on Alzheimer’s research. This is the first time Gates has made a commitment to a noncommunicable disease.

March 13, 2020 – It is reported that Gates is leaving the boards of both Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to “dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities.”

May 3, 2021 – Gates and his wife announce that they are ending their marriage after 27 years. Their divorce is finalized on August 2.

May 16, 2021 – According to reporting from the Wall Street Journal, Gates’ 2020 resignation from Microsoft’s board of directors came after the board hired a law firm to investigate a romantic relationship he had with a Microsoft employee.

May 3, 2022 – Gates’ book, “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic,” is published.

May 10, 2022 – Announces he has tested positive for Covid-19.

July 13, 2022 – Gates writes in a blog post that he is moving $20 billion of his wealth into the endowment of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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