William Henry “Bill” Gates III is one of the most respected and well-known billionaires in the world – and for good reason. After famously dropping out of Harvard University to co-found Microsoft, Gates eventually rose to become the wealthiest man in the world. This was a spot he held from 1995 to 2017, only being overtaken for four of those years.
Now retired, Gates has decided to devote his time to “philanthropic priorities, including global health and development, education, and … tackling climate change”, he said in a post on LinkedIn.
To celebrate the business magnate’s 65th birthday on October 28, we take a look at a few facts that most people might not know about him.
He is a supremely gifted coder
Gates wrote his first programme as a teenager on a teletype computer. It was a game that allowed users to play noughts and crosses against the computer.
His school recognised his talent for coding and contracted him to create a programme that would schedule students’ classes. Gates responded by cheekily altering the code so that he would be placed in classes with lots of female students.
He memorised his employees’ number plates at Microsoft
While working at Microsoft, Gates wanted to keep close track of his employees. “I knew everyone’s license plate, so I could look out in the parking lot and see when did people come in, when were they leaving,” Gates told the BBC.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen wrote in an article in Vanity Fair, “Bill drove others as hard as he drove himself … He was growing into the taskmaster who would prowl the car park on weekends to see who’d made it in.”
He refuses to overspend on clothes and jewellery
Despite having a net worth of US$115 billion, Gates refuses to spend on two things: clothes or jewellery. In Politico’s Lessons from Leaders event in 2014, he even admitted to wearing a US$10 wristwatch.
That doesn’t mean that the billionaire refuses to indulge himself in the occasional luxury, however. He recently bought a US$43 million beachfront home in California and owns a private jet and a car collection. He also collects art, and once spent US$30 million on a 16th century Leonardo da Vinci manuscript.
He is colour blind
After Xbox Live Arcade discovered that Gates enjoys the puzzle game Zuma, the developers decided to add a colour-blind mode that Gates came up with. The company eventually implemented this colour blind mode in multiple other games that are colour-dependent.
His children will only inherit US$10 million each
Gates has publicly shared that his children will only inherit US$10 million each from his massive fortune. In a TED talk, Gates shared that he and his wife Melinda “want to strike a balance where they have the freedom to do anything but not a lot of money showered on them so they could go out and do nothing”.
The rest of Gates’ fortune will eventually be given to charity. He and his wife have dedicated their lives to charity, founding the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and donating to numerous charitable causes, earning them recognition as two of the most generous philanthropists in the US.