Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world, is practically ahousehold name due to the huge popularity and use of Microsoft products. It’sunlikely that you’ve never heard of Bill Gates, but it’s possible that there aresome things about his life you didn’t know. He was born on October 28, 1955, inSeattle, Washington, the same city where his family currently lives. He’s famousfor founding Microsoft and creating Windows, which he introduced in 1985, butthere are many other elements to his life and career. He’s known forhis brains and his philanthropy, but many of the details of his life are harderto come by. Because he is so wealthy and famous, people are veryinterested in learning more about him and the journey he took to becoming theone of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world.
Here are fifteeninteresting facts about Bill Gates that you probably didn’t know before now.
15) He was a 31-Year-Old Billionaire
Bill Gates was raised in Seattle, near the current headquarters of Microsoft,and was bright from a very young age. He reportedly told his professors atHarvard that he planned to become a millionaire by the time he turned thirty.Gates certainly surpassed this goal when he became a billionaire just one yearafter his millionaire goal mark. He became the head of Microsoft in 1978. At theage of only twenty-three, Microsoft was already earning $2.5 million. Gates’s own earnings rocketed over the years andin October of 1987, just before he turned thirty-two, Forbes named him abillionaire.
Bill Gates at the 2007 Halo 3 Launch
In an interview with Daily Mail, Gates stated that his childrenmake fun of him by singing the song “Billionaire” by Bruno Mars. It’s certainlyappropriate. Microsoft was a quickly-growing company, with quickly-growingprofits, as made evident by Bill Gates’s rise to wealth.
14) Bill Gates KBE
In 2005, at the age of forty-eight, Bill Gates received an honoraryknighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. Since he is an American citizen he cannot becalled Sir Bill Gates, but his title is KBE. KBE stands for Knight Commander ofthe Order of the British Empire. That’s quite a title. He and his wife Melindavisited Buckingham Palace for the ceremony where he was given an insignia, andduring his stay he and the Queen talked about computersalong with other things.
Queen Elizabeth II
Other Americans who have been given honorary knighthood include directorSteven Spielberg, President Ronald Reagan, and actor Bob Hope.
13) Early Retirement
Bill Gates may be famous for founding and running Microsoft, but he no longerdoes that full time. As of 2008, he retired from working dailyat Microsoft so he could focus on his charitable activities. He is still Chairman atMicrosoft, but he now devotes the majority of his time to his philanthropy. Heand his wife Melinda operate the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is thelargest organization of its kind in the world. The foundation partners withother organizations to try to make an impact on the larger problems of the world. There arefour major focus areas for the foundation. The first is the Global Development Division, whichfocuses on poverty and hunger across the globe.
The Bill and Melissa Gates Visitor’s Center Entrance
The second is the Global HealthDivision, which works for global advances in health. One focus of this divisionis to work on vaccines for polio, malaria, and HIV. Gates has stated in aninterview with the Daily Mail that there is so much money invested in curing cancerthat he prefers to focus his money on diseases like malaria, which have morelikelihood of being cured with the help of the large amount of money hisfoundation can contribute. The third focus of the foundation is the UnitedStates Division, focused primarily on education, and the last area is the GlobalPolicy and Advocacy Division.
12) An Aptitude for Scholastics
Bill Gates is known for being a very smart man, but his score on theScholastic Aptitude Test (the SAT) is the proof to back it up. When Gates tookthe SAT in high school, he scored 1590. The highest possible score for the SATat the time was 1600. It’s no surprise then that he was accepted to HarvardUniversity, where he enrolled after graduating from high school in 1973. Whilethis is one of the top fifteen interesting facts about Bill Gates, anotherinteresting tidbit is that his Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, scored aperfect 1600 on his SAT.
Paul Allen Pictured Third From Right
Though not as rich or famous as Bill Gates, Allen isalso a billionaire and philanthropist. Allen is also a big figure in Seattle. Heowns Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, the company that partially owns theSeattle Sounders, a Major League Soccer team. He also controls CenturyLinkField, home to the Sounders and the Seattle Seahawks, the National FootballLeague team that is also owned by Allen. Both Microsoft founders, Gates andAllen, are exceptional examples for the argument that the SAT is a test that canpredict success and brain power.
11) An Early Start with Tic Tac Toe
Bill Gates was fascinated by computers from an early age and one of theinteresting facts about him that you may not know is that he started writingcomputer programs when he was only thirteen years old. The first program hewrote was a tic tac toe game in which the player could play against thecomputer.
In 1968, Gates’s school, Lakeside School in Seattle, purchased computer timeand Gates soon became extremely interested in computers. He wrote the tic tactoe game using the early computing language BASIC. Gates also met Paul Allenwhile at Lakeside School, beginning a friendship that would propel them into apartnership when they founded Microsoft years later. Gates’s first computerprogram sale was also while he was a teenager. He was still inhigh school when in 1972 he co-founded a traffic pattern analysis company called Traf-O-Data.
10) Bill Gates and Bono Are Close Friends
Another celebrity who is noted for his frequent work with charitableorganizations and his own philanthropy is Bono, lead singer of U2. Bono and Bill Gates have been friends for some time, and when Bono was in Seattle in to play aconcert, he stayed at Bill Gates’s house. Bono knew Paul Allen first and asked him to introduce him to BillGates. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partners with Bono’s own causes,such as (RED), which raises money for AIDS medication.
In the Daily Mailinterview, Gates states that he took his wife and daughter and three of hisdaughter’s friends to the concert, and Gates himself drove them in a minivan.Bono stayed at their house after the concert, which is not surprising since thetwo have worked together so closely on charitable causes for several years. In2005, Gates and his wife Melinda were on the cover of Time magazine with Bono,and the three were named the magazine’s “Persons of the Year.” Bono and Bill andMelinda Gates continue to partner on issues of global concern.
9) Maximum Wage
Bill Gates earns about $250.00 per second. This is according to multiplesources that have considered Gates’s earnings and divided it down. It’s nosecret that Gates is an incredibly wealthy man, but this highlights his wealthin a staggering way. This statistic is baffling enough on its own, but there arethose who have taken it even further by figuring out a number of interestinghypothetical situations involving Gates’s money.
For example, Poly Mic statesthat Gates would have to spend about $6 million every day for the nextthirty-three years if he wanted to use up all his money in that time. Thisprobably doesn’t take into account the money that he continues to earn, though,but only the money that he already has. While everyone knows that Bill Gates isrich, you might not have every thought about it in such specific terms before.What is so interesting about Gates’s wealth is his pledge to donate at leasthalf of it to charity and to leave very little of it to his three children.
8) Do Not Disturb
Many celebrities seek privacy for their wedding ceremonies, but it seems thatpaparazzi always find a way to find a good shot of the bride and groom. This wasnot the case for the wedding of Bill and Melinda Gates. When Bill Gates married Melinda French in Hawaii in 1994, he was determined to keep the wedding aninvitation-only affair. He bought all the empty rooms in the Manele Bay Hotelwhere they were staying. He even went so far as to hire every local helicopterso that none would be available for use by photographers.
Melinda French hadworked as a manager at Microsoft, and the two took many precautions to ensurethat their wedding ceremony was kept private and secure. In an article about thewedding in the Seattle Times, reporters note the extreme security and that thosereporters who arrived were made to sign a statement that they understood theywere trespassing and that they should leave. It’s obvious that Gates wantedabsolute privacy for his wedding and was prepared to spend any amount of moneynecessary to achieve it.
7) No Silver Spoons for the Gates Children
You might think that being one of the three Gates children would be a dreamcome true and an instant ticket to lifelong super-richness. Bill Gates has otherplans. His three children are Jennifer, 15, Rory, 12, and Phoebe, 9. In aninterview with Daily Mail, Bill Gates stated that his children would onlyinherit a “minuscule portion” of his money. He wants them to get jobs and “findtheir own way.” Though Gates stated that he will pay for any educational andhealth needs his children have, he does not intend to set them up with a hugeamount of money for the rest of their lives.
Courtesy of billgatesfamily.comHe wants them to work like he did.Gates has also stated that he won’t let his children have cell phones until theyare thirteen years old and he and his wife Melinda expect the children to dochores. It’s also of interest that he says in his interview that his childrendon’t use Apple products; they use the Microsoft versions instead. Thatcertainly makes sense when it’s Microsoft that has paid for any gadgets thechildren get. With the Gates’ plans to see their children work rather thaninherit huge amounts of money, it seems Bill Gates wants them to do the samethings he did. Gates wants his children to find things that interest and inspire him and then worktoward those goals.
6) Not Always #1
Bill Gates spent several years as the richest man in the world, from 1995 to 2007. That’s a long time to be the wealthiest person alive. But in 2008, he camein at #3, behind Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett. By the next year, though, Gateswas back on top. Ever since 2010, Gates has come in second to CarlosSlim. What’s happening there? Has Microsoft stopped earning as much money? No,it’s due to a different reason, which is why it appears on the fifteeninteresting things about Bill Gates. Carlos Slim – The Richest Man in the World
In the past several years, Gates has givenaway so much of his personal income that he lost his spot as the richest man inthe world. Gates comes in second as a worldphilanthropist, after Warren Buffett, and has given almost 40 percent of hiswealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While the standings for therichest man in the world seem to fluctuate quickly (in May of 2013, Gates was ontop, but the changes are quick), Gates has been in the top three for quite sometime.
5) Bill Gates is a Published Academic Author
During his brief time at Harvard, Bill Gates solved a complicated mathematicsproblem presented by a professor at Harvard, Dr. Harry Lewis. According to aninterview with Dr. Lewis for NPR, the professor presented a complex math problemcalled a pancake sorting problem to his combinatorial mathematics class. BillGates just happened to be a student in that class. He worked out a solution to the problem andlater published it in 1979. The title of the paper is “Bounds for Sorting byPrefixed Reversal.” This paper remained the standard by which to solve thepancake problem for about thirty years until, as NPR’s Kestenbaum puts it, “someresearchers found a slightly better sorting strategy, but it’s only one percentfaster.”
By Kees de Vos via Wikimedia CommonsGates’s former professor notes that the faster strategy was onlypossible to find because of the computing capabilities made possible by Gates.So though Bill Gates didn’t spend much time at Harvard, his time there wasnotable in that he solved a problem that took several decades to be improvedupon. Gates’s paper, co-authored by Christos Papadimitiou, an assistantprofessor at Harvard at the time, and was published in Discrete Mathematics.
4) He’s Able to Convince Others to Give Away Lots of Money, Too
Bill Gates is known for his charitable work and donations, but anotherfascinating fact about Bill Gates is that he is also able to convince otherwealthy people to do the same thing. Gates and Warren Buffett, who ABC Newsclaims is the number one world philanthropist, formed the Giving Pledge, alsoreferred to as the Gates-Buffett Pledge, in which they invite other wealthpeople to “donate at least half of their wealth to charity or philanthropicactivities.” As the Giving Pledge website states, the pledge is “a commitment bythe world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority oftheir wealth to philanthropy.”
Warren Buffet Pictured With President Obama
The Wall Street Journal explains that Gates and Buffett started the organization because Buffett believes, like Andrew Carnegiedid, that “fortunes were often wasted by heirs and thus should be put tocharitable use.” One of the most famous pledgers is Mark Zuckerberg, the founderof Facebook, who was just twenty-six years old when he signed the pledge in2010. Other pledgers include George Lucas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, TedTurner, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely. SinceGates himself had an estimated net worth of $72.7 billion as of May 16, 2013, his own pledge to donate at least half of his money to charitywill, on its own, likely make a huge impact on the world and the causes hesupports.
3) Bill Gates May Have Created the First Computer Virus
That’s right. The man responsible for the creation of Windows may have alsobeen responsible for the first computer virus, and he created it when he wasonly a teenager. While we think of Bill Gates as the man who created computerprograms that certainly aren’t free and are supposed to be only helpful andnever harmful, it turns out that he may be responsible for an early program thathe used on a network of computers in Seattle when he was very young. NotableBiographies explains that Gates was working on a computer at the Computer CenterCorporation (CCC) when he learned that the computer was connected to othercomputers on a national network.
This network, called Cybernet, was vulnerableto being infiltrated by computer programs and, when Gates “installed a programon the main computer that sent itself to the reset of the network’s computers,”the whole network crashed. This resulted in Gates being banned from using thecomputers during his junior year of high school. The reason for his ban from CCCis explained differently by the Times of India, who claim that it was becauseGates and three other students were “caught exploiting its operating system bugsto steal computer time.” Since they had to pay for the time they spent usingcomputers, they found a way around it, but were banned when they were caught.
2) He Has a Mugshot
Bill Gates is a certainly an upstanding citizen, donating huge amounts ofmoney to charity and doing lots of work around the globe to make the world abetter place. He also seems like a straight-laced, professional businessman. Soit’s extra funny to find out that, when he was quite young, Bill Gates wasarrested. The lack of severity of his crime is evident from the grin on his facein his forward-facing shot, but he was indeed arrested in New Mexico in 1977.The arrest was only for traffic violations,Gates ran a red light and was “driving without a license.”
By Loљmi via Wikimedia CommonsHis mugshot is easyto find online, though he has not offered a public explanation of what happenedfollowing the arrest. It appears that he never faced any jail time and was soonset free. Gates himself has joked about the photo, though. A version of themugshot was used in a Microsoft commercial featuring Gates himself. At least hedoesn’t take himself too seriously.
1) He Was a Harvard Dropout
By now, you know that Bill Gates scored a near-perfect score on his SAT andwas accepted to Harvard, where he began classes in 1973, but you may not knowthat he dropped out to co-found Microsoft with his friend, Paul Allen. While atHarvard, Gates read an article in PopularMechanics about the Altair, a microcomputer being sold for $350 by a company inNew Mexico called MITS. In the same year, Gates dropped out of school and he andAllen co-founded their company. Originally called Micro Soft, the companyeventually became Microsoft, the huge corporation that earned Allen and Gatesbillions of dollars and notable fame.
A Look Inside Harvard Business School
By HBS1908 via Wikimedia CommonsIn a society that views dropping out ofschool as a universally bad decision, it’s always interesting to read aboutsomeone who dropped out of college and became a huge success. This is certainlytrue of Bill Gates. The richest man in the world never graduated from college.Of course, Bill Gates’s life is quite different from the lives of most otherpeople in the world, but this fact stands out as one that certainly makes himdifferent from most successful businessmen and businesswomen in the world. Hehad a great deal of confidence in his plans and his friend Paul Allen believedin them, as well. It worked out well for the pair, as their company grew quicklyand greatly over the years, resulting in one of the biggest and most profitablebusiness ventures ever.
Now that you’ve read these fifteen interesting facts about Bill Gates, youprobably have a much better idea of who he is and how he came to be one of therichest and most influential people in the world. He dedicates the majority ofhis time and money to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an influentialorganization not only in its global work for many charitable and world-changingcauses, but in its influence on other people who are also incredibly wealthy.The Giving Pledge has the potential to generate a huge amount of change in theworld and Bill Gates is a driving force in the move toward philanthropy for manycurrent millionaires and billionaires. He’s certainly an example of someone whomade the best possible use of his good ideas and of the money he earned becauseof them.