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Entrepreneur Bill Gates founded the world's largest software business, Microsoft, with Paul Allen and became one of the richest men in the world.
Bill Gates - Mini Biography (3:42)
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Bill Gates - Charity (0:56)
Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen built the world's largest software business, Microsoft. He became one of the richest men in the world and a major philanthropist through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
As a teenager, Bill Gates became obsessed with computers.
Mary Gates played a big part early on in the success of her son Bill and his upstart company, Microsoft.
Bill and Melinda Gates started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which helps people and organizations all over the world.
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Eventually, Microsoft was able to find a settlement with the federal government to avoid a breakup. Through it all, Gates found some inventive ways to deflect the pressure with light-hearted commercials and public appearances at computer trade shows posing as Star Trek's Mr. Spock. Gates continued to run the company and weather the federal investigations through the 1990s.
In 1989, a 28-year-old Microsoft executive named Melinda French caught the eye of Bill Gates, then 37. The very bright and organized Melinda was a perfect match for Gates. In time, their relationship grew as they discovered an intimate and intellectual connection. On January 1, 1994, Melinda and Bill were married in Hawaii. But only a few months later heartbreak struck Bill Gates as his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died in June 1994. Gates was devastated.
Bill and Melinda took some time off in 1995 to travel to several countries and get a new perspective on life and the world. In 1996, their first daughter, Jennifer, was born. A year later, Gates moved his family into a 55,000 sq ft. $54 million house on the shore of Lake Washington. Though the house serves as a business center, it is said to be a very cozy home for the couple and their three children.
With the influence of his wife Melinda, Gates took an interest in filling his mother's role as a civic leader. He began to realize that he had an obligation to give more of his wealth to charity. Being the consummate student he was, Gates studied the philanthropic work of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, titans of the American industrial revolution. In 1994, Gates and his wife established the William H. Gates Foundation which was dedicated to supporting education, world health, and investment in low-income communities. In 2000, the couple combined several family foundations to form the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They started out by making a $28 billion contribution to set up the foundation.
Bill Gates stepped down from the day-to-day operations of Microsoft in 2000, turning over the job of CEO to college friend Steve Ballmer who had been with Microsoft since 1980. He positioned himself as chief software architect so he could concentrate on what was for him the more passionate side of the business. He still remains chairman of the board. Over the next few years, his involvement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation occupied much of his time and even more of his interest. In 2006, Gates announced he was transitioning himself from full-time work at Microsoft, to devote more quality time to the Foundation. His last full day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008.
In addition to all the accolades of being one of the most successful and richest businessmen in the history of the world, Bill Gates has also received numerous awards for philanthropic work. Time magazine named Gates one of the most influential people of the 20th century. The magazine also named Gates, his wife Melinda, and rock band U2's lead singer Bono as the 2005 Persons of the Year.
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