Who doesn’t know Bill Gates? The successful businessman and entrepreneur revolutionised our experience with computers with ground-breaking work at Microsoft Corporation.
Beyond that, however, he is co-chairman of the immensely influential Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he has founded with his wife, and he pursues a large number of philanthropic endeavours.
Bill’s life has been documented in many interviews and documentaries, along with his achievements and important work. However, there are still surprising facts about him that you may not know. Read on for the 14 most interesting facts about Bill Gates.
Bill Gates Interesting Facts
1. As a student, he made contributions in computing
When he was a student at Lakeside Prep School, Bill’s talent for coding was noticed by his teachers. The school went on to ask him to write a code in their computer to help schedule classes. He admits to altering the code so he would be placed in classes with “a disproportionate number of interesting girls.”
2. He dropped out of college
Bill Gates is a great example in young people’s arguments with their parents about schooling, as he dropped out of college and still went on to be extremely successful. He was enrolled at Harvard, but he dropped out in 1975 in order to fully work on Microsoft when it was a growing business, an interesting fact about Bill Gates.
3. He’s been arrested
Yes, mild-mannered, intellectual Gates has an arrest record! He was caught running a red light and driving without a license in New Mexico in 1977.
4. Although he has immense wealth, his children won’t inherit it
Bill is known for saying that leaving your kids large amounts of money is not a favour to them. As a result, in spite of his huge net worth of $81.1 billion, he is only planning to leave $10 million each to his kids.
5. Despite his intellectual capacity, he’s never learnt a foreign language
Yes, Bill Gates only speaks English. He considers his incapacity to learn a foreign language his biggest regret in life so far, an interesting fact about Bill Gates.
6. His music taste is … interesting
In interviews, Bill has said his favourite band was Weezer. He also sometimes mentions U2 as a favourite. However, he says he’s still waiting for fictional band Spinal Tap, from the cult movie with the same name, to go back on tour!
7. He is colour blind
In an interview in 2006, Bill revealed that he is in fact colour blind.
8. He has a passion for reading
Recent Netflix documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates” follows Gates around his home, where his immense library jumps out at the viewers. He is a huge reader and can read as much as 50 books per year, or almost one per week. In the Netflix documentary, we can see the quote from the “Great Gatsby” adorning the library: “He’d come a long way to his blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it”.
9. Involvement in anti-piracy activism
Within a year of founding Microsoft, Bill discovered that a leaked copy of the BASIC programmes was being copied and shared, leading to multiple such pirate copies. In 1976, he wrote an open letter claiming that more than 90% of the Microsoft Altair BASIC users hadn’t actually paid for the programme. He stated that the “hobby market” was threatening to cripple the burgeoning tech industry, eliminating the incentive for developers to create software, an important fact about Bill Gates. This sort of concern seems quite ahead of its time, but of course, stands at the basis of all intellectual property debates.
10. He makes fun of himself
In 2008, a series of Microsoft promotional ads featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld also included Bill. The advert shows them shopping at discount shoe stores, and Bill shows his membership card at one point. As a self-deprecating inside joke, the picture on there is his actual mug shot from when he was arrested in New Mexico in 1977.
11. He is a fan of Leonardo da Vinci
It seems fitting that someone with interests so broad and such thirst for knowledge would admire the ultimate Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. Bill Gates spent a whopping $30.8 million in 1994 to acquire the Codex Leicester, a collection of Da Vinci’s writings on fossils, the movement of water and soil erosion.
Ever the philanthropist, Gates then scanned the pages and released them on CD-ROM in 1997. Since then, the Codex has been displayed at art galleries around the United States.
12. He used to fly standard class
Bill now has his own private plane, which he deems to be one of the few luxuries he allows himself. However, before buying this in 1997, he famously always flew in standard class with “regular” people, an interesting fact about Bill Gates.
13. He was a tough boss
At Microsoft, Bill used to memorise his employees’ license plates so he would know when staff were coming and going. As the company got more successful, he admits to “loosening up” about this habit.
14. He is a lavish home owner
Perhaps this may come as no surprise given his immense wealth, but for someone who comes across as level-headed and very calculated, Bill Gates owns a very lavish home. He and Melinda live in Medina, Washington, just outside Seattle. Their mansion is on a hill overlooking Lake Washington, and is worth a reported $125 million. It’s 66,000 square foot, featuring a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system, a 2,500 square-foot gym, and a huge 1,000 square-foot dining room. Apparently, taxes for this property alone are c. $1 million per year!
Bill Gates has undoubtedly changed all of our lives with his advances in computing back in the starting days of Microsoft. Today, he contributes to a large number of philanthropic endeavours and is actively trying to find solutions to humanity’s biggest issues such as pollution and climate change. These 14 facts also prove he is an interesting, multi-layered individual, perhaps a bit more than meets the eye.
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