The life and career of William Henry Gates III, born October 28, 1955, in Seattle, is a testament of turning a childhood dream and passion into a multibillion-dollar corporation. The business entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist, turned his interest in computer programming, into co-founding Microsoft, one of the world's largest computer operating systems and software development companies. Because of his hard work and success, he is now considered to be one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Gates found his passion in computer programming at the age of 13 while attending Lakeside School in Seattle. In 1973 Gates attended Harvard University but left his junior year so that he could focus all of his attention on Microsoft. In 1986, Gates became a millionaire at age 31 when Microsoft went public. At the time, he owned 45 percent of the company's shares. The next year, Gates became a billionaire when stocks in Microsoft split and increased in value. Since 1987, Gates has been on the top or near top of the Forbes 400 list of the world's wealthiest people consecutively.
In 1989, Bill Gates met Melinda French, a Microsoft executive, and the couple got married on Jan. 1, 1994. The same year Gate's mother, Mary Gates, died from breast cancer. Inspired by his wife to follow the philanthropic example of his mother, Bill established the William H. Gates Foundation, 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. Gates' work as philanthropist expanded when he became an author, donating the proceeds from his best-selling books to charity.
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. Because of their extensive charity work, Bill and Melinda Gates hold many honors. These honors include being awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government. Bill Gates also holds several honorary doctorates from universities throughout the world and an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
Gates shares a home off the shore of Lake Washington with wife Melinda and their three children.