Bill Gates

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bill Gates (2018)
Signature of Bill Gates

William "Bill" Henry Gates III [ ˈwɪljəm bɪl ˈhɛnɹɪ geɪts ] (born October 28, 1955 in Seattle , Washington ) is an American entrepreneur , programmer and patron . He founded in 1975 together with Paul Allen the company Microsoft and is consequently today with an estimated fortune of 110 billion US dollars as one of the richest people in the world. In 2008 he retired from operational business and has been through the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that he and his wife foundedmainly active as a philanthropist . Gates had already donated a third of his fortune (almost US $ 28 billion) to them by 2011 as part of The Giving Pledge . In the meantime (as of 2018), Gates has donated over 36 billion US dollars to her and announced that he will give 95 percent of his assets to her by the end of his life.

Early years and education

Gates was born the second of three children to the wealthy attorney William H. Gates, Sr. (born November 30, 1925 - September 14, 2020) and the teacher Mary Maxwell Gates (1929-1994). He has an older sister with Kristianne Gates and a younger sister with Libby.

Bill Gates excelled in elementary school primarily in math and science and went to the private Lakeside School in Seattle when he was 13 . When he was in eighth grade, an ASR-33 teletypewriter was added to the school so that General Electric students could use computer time. Bill Gates found an interest in programming the GE computer with BASIC programs and was partially exempted from mathematics classes to further his interests.

He wrote his first computer program on one of these machines: a version of tic-tac-toe that allowed the user to play against the computer. Gates was fascinated by the machine and how it implemented the software code. Later he said about this moment "There was just something elegant about this machine".

Later, the students were able to work on a PDP-10 system from Digital Equipment Corporation . After the students introduced bugs into the systems that gave them more free time on the computers, they were banned from working on the computing systems for a summer, after which Bill Gates, Paul Allen , Ric Weiland and Kent Evans reached an agreement with the operators that they looked for and corrected software bugs and that they were given computer time. Bill Gates subsequently dealt with various programming languages in order to be able to work on the system. In addition to BASIC, it was also about Fortran , Lisp and the machine language .

Together with his school friend Paul Allen, Bill Gates founded his first company Traf-O-Data at the age of 14 . They developed a system for measuring traffic flows that ran on the Intel 8008 processor and earned them $ 20,000. The agreement with Computer Center Corporation ended in 1970, and the following year the school team was hired by Information Sciences Inc. to write a payroll program in COBOL .

At the same time, he and his friend were commissioned by that college during the summer vacation to write a software program that could be used to compile class lists and timetables, taking various conditions into account.

In 1973 Gates went to Harvard University to study, but spent most of his time in the computer lab. It was there that he met his future business partner Steve Ballmer . In December 1974, he developed together with all within weeks to the new on the market coming home computer Altair 8800 imaginary BASIC interpreter Altair BASIC that is later than Microsoft BASIC has also been adapted for various other home computers and developed.

Entrepreneurial advancement


1975 broke Gates be studied starting to become quite the leadership of his Microsoft Corporation to pay. Just a few years later, he achieved the great coup when he delivered the MS-DOS operating system to IBM . He handed over the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to Steve Ballmer in January 2000 and has since been Chairman of the Supervisory Board and Chief Developer. On June 15, 2006, Gates announced that he would retire from Microsoft's day-to-day business by July 2008 and leave the chief development position to the previous chief technology officer, Ray Ozzie , in order to then increasingly take on his foundation for charitable purposes. He was still Chairman (Chairman of the Supervisory Board) until 2014 and supported Microsoft with ideas and visions.

In November 2007, the Computing Technology Industry Association, CompTIA , named Bill Gates the Most Influential Person in IT for the Past 25 Years.

Gates was Chairman of the Board (comparable to a Chairman of the Supervisory Board) until 2014 and head of the company's development department (Chief Software Architect) until 2006. He has been a technical consultant at Microsoft since 2014. Since December 2004 he is also a member of the Supervisory Board (Board of Directors) of Berkshire Hathaway . On September 12, 2007, he officially said goodbye to his company at the corporate meeting, and on June 27, 2008, he worked full-time at Microsoft for the last time.

According to Microsoft

As announced on October 23, 2008, Bill Gates has started a new company called bgC3. However, no activities are publicly known by the think tank (according to trademark registration). In addition, he founded (in 2006) TerraPower, a company that is concerned with the feasibility of the concept of the rotor shaft reactor .

As an investor, Gates is active alongside his foundation with Cascade Investment . He is involved in the Corbis picture agency and the Berlin start-up ResearchGate .

Private life

Bill Gates' residence on Lake Washington
Bill Gates with wife Melinda 2009

Gates has been married to the programmer Melinda Gates (nee French) since 1994 , who was then the project manager of the Microsoft Bob operating system add- on. With her he has two daughters (* 1996 and 2002) and a son (* 1999). He lives with his family in Medina on Lake Washington in a property designed by the architect James Cutler .

He is a passionate golf and bridge player. According to the 2003 Financial Times ranking, Bill Gates was the most respected entrepreneur in the world. While his entrepreneurial performance is undisputed, business policy and the quality of his products are frequent points of criticism.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

West wing of the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters

Bill Gates and his wife Melinda jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , which has an estimated net worth of approximately $ 46.8 billion and is now the largest private charitable foundation in the world. In addition to the Foundation, which distributes funds to beneficiaries to improve health care worldwide, combat extreme poverty and provide access to education and information technology , there is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust , which makes the foundation's investment decisions.

The current focus of the foundation's activities is the fight against malaria and poliomyelitis (polio). For the former, Gates announced a donation of 258.3 million US dollars in October 2005. In January 2009, he announced a donation of $ 255 million to Rotary International to support Rotary's program to eradicate polio worldwide.

On January 29, 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they would donate a total of $ 10 billion towards vaccines over the next 10 years.

By the time he dies, Gates says he will donate 90 to 95 percent of his total wealth, and only 0.02% of his total wealth will be given to each of his children: namely 10 million US dollars. However, these numbers are not confirmed. According to an interview with Gates wife Melinda, they have never given any numbers. She only confirms that the inheritance for her children will be relatively small. Even Warren Buffett has pledged most of his fortune to the foundation in his will.

In 2006, Bill Gates and his wife were awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for International Cooperation for their exemplary “ generosity and philanthropy ” . In 2005 he and his wife and Irish musician Bono were named Person of the Year by Time Magazine for their charitable work .

Pandemic warning

Bill Gates has been warning of the dangers of a global pandemic for years - including before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic . At a TED talk in 2015, for example, he expressed his concern that new types of pathogens pose an even greater risk than nuclear missiles and military conflicts, and advocated arming the fight against microbes. In 2018, he is said to have asked the American President Donald Trump in a conversation to invest more in appropriate protective measures.

In February 2020, he announced that his foundation would donate approximately $ 100 million in efforts towards a global response to the coronavirus pandemic, and in March that his foundation, along with Wellcome and Mastercard, would donate up to $ 125 million in drug development to treat COVID-19 will invest. As part of this, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported the Tübingen-based company Curevac , which is developing a coronavirus vaccine . Gates also spoke out in favor of mass development of a vaccine against the coronavirus .

On February 28, 2020, he published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on the prospects for the pandemic, in which he focused on combating in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and building an infrastructure for precautions against similar or worse recommended future pandemics.


According to Forbes Magazine estimates , Gates topped the list of the world's richest people 15 times between 1994 and 2014 . In July 2017 he was replaced by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos . At the time, Gates' net worth was estimated at $ 90 billion. He distributes or invests this through his holding company, Cascade Investment, founded in 1995 . He currently (2020) owns around 1.3% of the shares in Microsoft.

In June 2010 Gates started the initiative The Giving Pledge together with Warren Buffett , in which the so-called American "super-rich" should donate money to charitable causes. As of August 2010, 40 billionaires signed up to this campaign. According to Forbes Magazine , their number rose to over 100 by March 2014.


Among Gates' private purchases is the Codex Leicester , a collection of notes by Leonardo da Vinci, which he acquired at auction in 1994 for $ 30.8 million.

Gates learned Bridge from his parents as a child. He regularly plays in the US North American Bridge Championships and won the Swiss Teams competition in 2017.


In 1992 Bill Gates was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In February 2002 he received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Technical University in Stockholm .

On March 2, 2005, Bill Gates was raised to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain . According to the State Department in London , he received the title for his extensive donations to fight poverty and disease and for his services to the British economy. As an American, however, he is not allowed to wear the title "Sir". In 2005 he was with his wife Person of the Year of the Time Magazine .

On June 8, 2007, Bill Gates was awarded an honorary doctorate by Harvard University. Also in 2007, Bill and Melinda were awarded Knights of the Order of the Aztec Eagle (Mexico).

In August 2009, Bill and Melinda Gates jointly received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge , and in 2013 both received the Lasker ~ Bloomberg Public Service Award from the Lasker Foundation .

On November 14, 2013, Bill and his wife Melinda received the Bambi in the “Millennium” category for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation .

In 2015 he was awarded the Padma Bhushan .

In November 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom .


Expansion strategy Microsoft

Bill Gates (right) with Steve Jobs at the “D5: All Things Digital ” 2007 conference in Silicon Valley

Often, as the founder and formative manager of Microsoft, Bill Gates is personally held responsible for an aggressive expansion strategy of the group. With his business practices he is always in the focus of the antitrust authorities . At times there was even a threat of the group being broken up. Critics complain that he is aiming for an illegal monopoly .

Criticism of TRIPS support

The journalist Greg Palast accuses Gates of acting unfairly with his foundation. Gates supports the TRIPS agreement, which calls for stricter international standards for intellectual property rights. Critics claim that the TRIPS agreement will make drugs more expensive in developing countries and make generic production extremely difficult. This, the critics said, would make vital medicines inaccessible to far more people than could be funded by Gates' Foundation. On the other hand, it can be countered that without rules on intellectual property as formulated in TRIPS, less research would take place in the medical field and many drugs would therefore not even be developed.

On the other hand, Gates received encouragement from Christoph Blenn, Director of External Relations at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , who also works with the Gates Foundation: where they are the cheapest, buy. ”The Gates Foundation does not insist on buying only patented branded products.

Edward Snowden

During an interview with the US magazine Rolling Stone , he expressed his dislike of the whistleblower and former secret service employee Edward Snowden , because he had broken the law and had not stayed in the country. He hardly feels any admiration for him.

Extent of air travel

A study by the University of Lund on the subject of super emitters showed Gates for 2017 alone that he made 59 flights in a private jet and flown over 200,000 air miles. Its CO 2 emissions therefore correspond to the CO 2 emissions of around 10,000 average people. Gates was blamed for these numbers because his commitment is also aimed at overcoming the climate crisis ; Gates, on the other hand, describes the extent of his air travel as "guilty pleasure".

Target of conspiracy hypotheses

Bill Gates is the target of various conspiracy theories because of his fortune and the projects of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation . During the COVID-19 pandemic , for example, E.g. the theory that Bill Gates was responsible for the virus to justify mass vaccination.


  • Digital business. Competition in the information age. From the American by Raymond Hinrichs and Andreas Model. Heyne, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-453-15859-8 (in collaboration with Collins Hemingway).
  • The way forward. The future of the information society. From the American by Friedrich Griese and Hainer Kober . Completely revised and updated paperback edition. Heyne, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-453-12296-8 (in collaboration with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson).


  • The Microsoft Story - Computer Pioneer Bill Gates. A documentary by Stéphane Malterre. German premiere: August 2, 2013.
  • Jobs versus Gates - The Duel of the Computer Kings (= ZDF History . Episode 78). German premiere: December 10, 2017.
  • The man Bill Gates ( Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates ). 3-part documentary series by Davis Guggenheim . USA 2019.


  • Des Dearlove: The Bill Gates Method. The 10 secrets of success of the richest entrepreneur in the world. Heyne, Munich 2002, ISBN 978-3-453-19683-4 .
  • Jennifer Edstrom, Marlin Eller: Barbarians led by Bill Gates. Microsoft viewed from the inside. MITP, Bonn 1999, ISBN 3-8266-0506-3 .
  • Daniel Ichbiah: The Microsoft story. Bill Gates and the world's most successful software company. 4th edition. Heyne, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-453-08161-7 .
  • Janet Lowe: Bill Gates. His secret of success. TM-Börsenverlag, Rosenheim 2000, ISBN 3-930851-49-0 .
  • Wendy Goldman Rohm: The Microsoft File. The Bill Gates Secret Case. Econ, Munich / Düsseldorf 1998, ISBN 3-430-17869-X .
  • James Wallace, Jim Erickson: Mr. Microsoft, the Bill Gates story. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-550-06808-5 .

Web links

Commons : Bill Gates  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Bill Gates  - on the news

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Retrieved November 19, 2019 .
  2. Steve Lohr: Microsoft Seeks Path Beyond Gates's Legacy . New York Times , June 27, 2008 (English)
  3. Billionaire Bill Gates to miss out on top spot in Forbes rich list after giving away $ 28bn . Daily Mail, March 8, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  4. Foundation FAQ ( en ): "From 1994 through 2018, Bill and Melinda gave the foundation more than $ 36.0 billion."
  5. ^ Bill Gates ( en ): "To date, Gates has donated $ 35.8 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the Gates Foundation."
  6. Dagmar von Taube, Philipp Hedemann: What luxury means: Billionaire Melinda Gates also pays attention to prices . Die Welt, April 7, 2012
  7. Bill Gates. In: Notable Names Database (NNDB). Soylent Communications, accessed February 26, 2020 .
  8. ^ Bill Gates: The Road Ahead . Penguin Books, 1996, ISBN 0-14-026040-4 , pp. 12 .
  9. ^ Documentary film: Bill Gates. Man (Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates) .
  10. ^ Bill Gates - Lakeside School. Retrieved September 30, 2019 .
  11. Thomas Claburn: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell Top List of IT Influencers. In: InformationWeek. November 7, 2007, accessed September 29, 2014 .
  12. Steve Lohr: Microsoft Seeks Path Beyond Gates's Legacy . New York Times , June 27, 2008 (English)
  13. Ina Fried: Bill Gates' new venture: A think tank? CNET News, October 22, 2008 (English)
  14. ^ RIL buys stake in US's Terra Power. Retrieved September 21, 2019 .
  15. Der Spiegel: Bill Gates, Bildergott, September 23, 2009, accessed July 28, 2015
  16. Gründerszene, June 4, 2013 - accessed on July 28, 2015
  17. The Wealthiest Charitable Foundations In the World ( en ) Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  18. ^ Arnold R. Grahl, Dan Nixon : Bill Gates announces new US $ 255 million grant for ending polio . (PDF; 76 kB) (No longer available online.) In: Rotary International News . January 21, 2009, archived from the original on March 14, 2014 ; accessed on September 29, 2019 (English, original website no longer available).
  19. For children in developing countries: Bill Gates donates $ 10 billion for vaccines . , January 29, 2010
  20. Dagmar von Taube, Philipp Hedemann: What luxury means: Billionaire Melinda Gates also pays attention to prices . Die Welt, April 7, 2012
  21. Bill Gates donates $ 258 million to malaria research . Die Welt , October 31, 2005
  22. TIME names Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates Persons of Year - . Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  23. Winand von Petersdorff: The early warning., April 4, 2020
  24. Jana Heigl: Bill Gates already knew in 2015: “We are not ready for an epidemic.”, March 26, 2020
  25. Rick Berke: Watch: In prescient move, Bill Gates urged Trump to invest in pandemic preparedness two years ago. STAT, March 10, 2020
  26. CureVac is focused on developing an mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine to protect people worldwide. Press release Curevac , March 15, 2020
  27. Bill Gates: Prepare for mass production of corona vaccination. In: Die Welt, April 1, 2020
  28. Perspective: Bill Gates, Responding to Covid-19 - A Once-in-a-Century Pandemic? New England Journal of Medicine, February 28, 2020
  29. ↑ Billionaires : Bill Gates is no longer the richest person in the world - WORLD. Retrieved July 27, 2017 .
  31. Initiative by Gates and Buffett :: 40 super-rich donate half of their wealth . Spiegel Online, August 4, 2010
  32. Jump up ↑ Forbes Profile: Bill Gates. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on March 4, 2014 ; accessed on March 4, 2014 .
  33. ^ Jeanne M. Lesinski: Bill Gates (biography) . 2006, ISBN 0-8225-7027-0 , pp. 74 .
  34. Kansas City Star
  35. List of honorary doctorates from the Royal Technical University , KTH (English)
  36. David Gößmann, Cambridge: Bill Gates at Harvard: tinsel for the prodigal son . Spiegel Online, June 8, 2007
  37. ^ The White House: President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. November 16, 2016, accessed November 22, 2016 .
  38. Irmintraud Jost: Bill Gates plays with his power . Die Welt, July 22, 1995
  39. ^ Greg Palast: Bill Gates: Killing Africans For Profit & Mr. Bush's Bogus Aids Offer. (No longer available online.) In: Information Clearing House. July 14, 2003, archived from the original on February 22, 2019 ; accessed on September 29, 2019 (original website no longer available).
  40. a b Deutsche Welle ( System migration by Bill Gates. In: DW.COM. June 16, 2006, accessed August 23, 2016 .
  41. ^ " Thanks to Edward Snowden, who has leaked tens of thousands of NSA documents, we are. Do you consider him a hero or a traitor? I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn't characterize him as a hero. If he wanted to raise the issues and stay in the country and engage in civil disobedience or something of that kind, or if he had been careful in terms of what he had released, then it would fit more of the model of 'OK, I 'm really trying to improve things.' You won't find much admiration from me. " Jeff Goodell: Bill Gates: The Rolling Stone Interview. In: Rolling Stone. March 13, 2014, p. 2 , accessed on March 14, 2014 (English).
  45. ↑ An alarming number of Americans believe Bill Gates' conspiracy theory. In: Retrieved August 25, 2020 .
  46. Tilman Schröter: Why Bill Gates became the enemy of the corona conspiracy theorists. In: May 11, 2020, accessed September 1, 2020 .
  47. What is the truth of the Bill Gates Conspiracy? In: Retrieved August 25, 2020 .
  48. ^ ZDFinfo in the footsteps of Bill Gates: "The Microsoft Story". In: July 29, 2013, accessed September 1, 2020 .
  49. Jobs versus Gates - The Duel of the Computer Kings. In: Accessed September 1, 2020 .
  50. ^ Jobs versus Gates - The Duel of the Computer Kings. In: Accessed September 1, 2020 .
  51. The Man Bill Gates in the Internet Movie Database (English)