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William Henry Gates III

portrait of Bill Gates
At the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland (26 January 2012) (CCA2 WEF)
Bill Gates signature

Born: 28 October 1955, Seattle, Washington

The son of a successful Seattle attorney, "Trey" Gates attended the exclusive Lakeside School, where he and Paul Allen managed to spend a lot of time in the school's computer lab. The Mothers Club had used rummage sale proceeds to install a single teletype terminal at the school and commit to a block of time on a GE mainframe, one of the first computer labs ever installed in a high school. Because of his aptitude he was soon working part time at Computer Center Corporation where he worked on some commercial programs but finagled unlimited nighttime access to the PDP-10. He entered Harvard in 1973, but when the MITS Altair was released in 1975 he dropped out to work with Allen again, developing software for Apple, Commodore, and CP/M systems, most notably the version of BASIC that ran on the most different types of computers. When IBM was developing the original IBM PC he agreed to create the operating system for it, based on QDOS, a 16-bit CP/M replacement written by Tim Paterson. Microsoft didn't have the rights to the software when they sold it, but they quickly licensed it from Paterson and soon shipped PC-DOS 1.0 for IBM. As they had not committed to exclusivity, they also sold the system as MS-DOS. After creating Excel for the Apple Macintosh, Microsoft scrambled to create a similar environment for the PC; the first version of Windows was released in 1985. Gates married Melinda French, then a product manager at the company, in 1994. Although still Chairman of the Board, Gates left day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft behind in 2008 and now devotes his attention to philanthropy through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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