Six Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Bill Gates
Bill Gates is a household name. This is especially true to the households that spent their formative years in the late 80s and early 90s when Gates worked to make computers a staple in the family home. Most people know that he’s the founder of Microsoft, one of the most popular operating systems in the world. Most people also know that he dominated the Forbes list of richest people in the world since 1993. In 2017, he was bested by Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, but still holds the number 2 spot today. Another commonly known fact about Bill Gates is that he gave a laughable deposition testimony during the 1998 Supreme Court case United States v. Microsoft over antitrust litigation. And that Microsoft ended up being charged with monopolization, tying, and blocking competition. For the most part, Gates’ life has been in the public eye over the last twenty years. If you’ve seen a documentary on the life of Bill Gates and the rise of Microsoft, the details mentioned above are all covered. However, there are a plethora of things that most people don’t know about Bill Gates. From his personal life to his dedication to philanthropy, you probably didn’t know these six things about Bill Gates.
The first computer program Bill Gates wrote was a tic-tac-toe game. After his prep school raised enough money to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and time on a General Electric (GE) computer, Gates’ interest in programming grew. His teacher’s noticed and excused him from class to continue working on his ever-growing interest. The Teletype model was the first machine he wrote a complete computer program on. The program allowed computer users to play tic-tac-toe against the computer. The ability to get a computer to perform a specific task fascinated Gates and he spent the rest of his time in school creating computer programs for his alma mater and other local-area businesses.
He almost got a perfect SAT score but did not graduate from college. At the age of 18, Gates was named a National Merit Scholar. Later that same year, he scored a 1590/1600 on his SAT and was accepted to Harvard. Throughout his two years at the Ivy League school, he never decided on a plan of study and spent most of his time with the school’s computers. Despite his intelligence, he did not graduate from Harvard. Instead, he took a leave of absence for an unspecified amount of time to work on Microsoft. As the company rose to success, he never returned but stated multiple times that he “could always go back to school” if Microsoft failed for some reason.
Bill Gates has stated that he is concerned for the future of superintelligence. With most of his life focused around and driven by software, it’s no surprise Gates has thoughts on the future. Popular forum platform, Reddit, often hosts AMAs or “Ask Me Anything” sessions during which influential people invite Reddit users to do just that and ask them anything. One user asked what Gates’ thoughts on superintelligence were and his response was one of concern. He sides with Elon Musk, another influencer in the information technology sector, and stated that “first the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”
One of his biggest philanthropic missions to date is to eliminate polio. Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, are both chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is the largest private charitable foundation in the entire world. The mission of the foundation is to improve global health while saving lives. The foundation has also partnered with Rotary International, an organization that brings together professional leaders with humanitarian efforts, to eliminate polio. The foundation also supports the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in worldwide agricultural development. Currently, in addition to their partnerships, the foundation is supporting the International Rice Research Institute’s efforts to develop a “golden rice” that will fight vitamin A deficiency.
The Gates’ family residence is a 66,000 square-foot mansion in Washington state. Bill Gates, his wife Melinda, and their three children live in a 66,000 square foot property that overlooks Lake Washington. The property is an earth-sheltered mansion built into the side of a hill. It’s designed in the Pacific lodge style with classic features as well as technologically-forward features. The home has a private library with a dome roof and oculus but also features a 60-foot wide swimming pool with an underwater music system and a server system throughout the entire estate. In addition, the home also boasts a 2,500 square foot gym and a 1,000 square foot dining room. Often referred to as Xanadu 2.0, a Citizen Kane reference, the home features 7 guest rooms, 24 bathrooms, a 23-car garage, and a beach made out of imported sand from the Caribbean. Want to see the inside of it? There are some ways to do just that if you can catch Gates when he’s auctioning off home tours. Some tours have been bought for as much as $35,000 a piece.
His dedication to philanthropy will outlast his lifetime, his wife’s lifetime, and his closest friend’s lifetime. Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda, and his closest friend, Warren Buffett, are all very dedicated to philanthropy. In fact, they are so invested in giving back that together they signed a “Giving Pledge”. This pledge commits them to each donate at least half of their wealth to charity over the course of time. The campaign itself is available for anyone who is wealthy to commit to. As of 2019, the Giving Pledge had 191 signatures from individuals and couples across 22 countries. Their commitments total over $1,000 billion dollars. The next time you hear the name Bill Gates, or he comes up in conversation, remember that he is more than the creator of Microsoft. Gates is also a well-known philanthropist, an advocate for slowing down on developing artificial intelligence, and much more. If you’re interested in learning more about Bill Gates, his website https://www.gatesnotes.com is a great place to start. On the blog, interested parties can find a lot of additional information on Gates’ philanthropic efforts, books he recommends, and people he considers his heroes. There is also a fascinating biography by Michael B. Becraft on gates, aptly titled “Bill Gates: A Biography”.