William Henry "Bill" Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, philanthropist, and chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. He is ranked consistently one of the world's wealthiest people and the wealthiest overall as of 2009. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO and chief software architect, and remains the largest individual shareholder with more than 8 percent of the common stock. He has also authored or co-authored several books.
Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. In the later stages of his career, Gates has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000.
Bill Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January, 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect. In June, 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie, chief software architect and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer. Gates' last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.
- As of 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates were the second most generous philanthropists in America, having given over $28 billion to charity.
- In 1987 Gates was officially declared a billionaire in the pages of Forbes' 400 Richest People in America issue, just days before his 32nd birthday.
- Time magazine named Gates one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005, and 2006.
- Gates has made The Giving Pledge to donate over half of his wealth to charity.
- Gates was number one on the "Forbes 400" list from 1993 through to 2007 and number one on Forbes list of "The World's Richest People" from 1995 to 2007 and 2009. In 1999, Gates's wealth briefly surpassed $101 billion, causing the media to call him a "centibillionaire"
Bill Gates on Religion
Gates was interviewed November 1995 on PBS by David Frost. Below is the transcript with minor edits.
Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount?
Gates: I don't. I'm not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I'm a huge believer in. There's a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact.
Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you'd say you don't know?
Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.
Rolling Stone Interview
In a Rolling Stone Interview Bill Gates broached the topic of religion again in two different questions.
Do you believe in God?
I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill. But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there's no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]. I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don't know.
You're a technologist, but a lot of your work now with the foundation has a moral dimension. Has your thinking about the value of religion changed over the years?
The moral systems of religion, I think, are superimportant. We've raised our kids in a religious way; they've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in. I've been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that's kind of a religious belief. I mean, it's at least a moral belief.
Gates was profiled in a January 13, 1996 TIME magazine cover story. Here are some excerpts compiled by the Drudge Report:
"Isn't there something special, perhaps even divine, about the human soul?" interviewer Walter Isaacson asks Gates "His face suddenly becomes expressionless," writes Isaacson, "his squeaky voice turns toneless, and he folds his arms across his belly and vigorously rocks back and forth in a mannerism that has become so mimicked at MICROSOFT that a meeting there can resemble a round table of ecstatic rabbis."
"I don't have any evidence on that," answers Gates. "I don't have any evidence of that."
He later states, "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."
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