William Henry Gates III, KBE, (born October 28, 1955), commonly known as Bill Gates, is the co-founder and current Chairman and Chief Software Architect of Microsoft. According to Forbes magazine, in 2005, Gates is the wealthiest person in the world.
He's been number one of the "Forbes 400" 1993-2004, he's been number one of Forbes magazine's "The World's Richest People" 1996, 1998-2004. According to Forbes list of "The World's Richest People" his net worth has been:
* 1996 - US$18.5 billion, ranked #1
* 1997 - $36.4 billion, ranked #2
* 1998 - $51.0 billion, ranked #1
* 1999 - $90.0 billion, ranked #1
* 2000 - $60.0 billion, ranked #1
* 2001 - $58.7 billion, ranked #1
* 2002 - $52.8 billion, ranked #1
* 2003 - $40.7 billion, ranked #1
* 2004 - $46.6 billion, ranked #1
* 2005 - $46.5 billion, ranked #1
Bill Gates was born in Seattle, Washington to William H. Gates, Sr., a corporate lawyer, and Mary Maxwell Gates, board member of First Interstate Bank, Pacific Northwest Bell and the national board of United Way.
Gates attended Lakeside School, Seattle's most exclusive prep school, where he was able to develop his programming skills on the school's minicomputer. He later went on to study at Harvard University, but dropped out without graduating to pursue what would become a lifelong career in software development.
While he was a student at Harvard, he co-authored with Paul Allen the original Altair BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800 (the first commercially successful personal computer) in the mid 1970s. It was inspired by BASIC, an easy-to-learn programming language developed at Dartmouth College for teaching purposes.
Gates married Melinda French on January 1, 1994. They have three children, Jennifer Katharine Gates (born April 26, 1996), Rory John Gates (born May 23, 1999) and Phoebe Adele Gates (born September 14, 2002). They live in a very large earth-sheltered home in the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington. It is a very modern 21st century house in the "Pacific lodge" style, with advanced electronic systems everywhere. In one respect though it is more like an 18th or 19th century mansion: It has a large private library with a domed reading room.
Also in 1994, he acquired the Codex Leicester, a collection of writings by Leonardo da Vinci; as of 2003 it was on display at the Seattle Art Museum.
In 1997, Gates was the victim of a bizarre extortion plot by Chicago resident Adam Quinn Pletcher. Gates testified at the subsequent trial. Pletcher was convicted and sentenced in July 1998 to six years in prison.
In his religious views, it is likely that Gates is an agnostic or an atheist. Asked by a Time interviewer whether he believed in God, Gates replied "I don't have any evidence on that."
According to Forbes, Gates donated money to the 2004 presidential campaign of George W. Bush.