18 Interesting Facts About Bill Gates That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Bill Gates, a businessman, an investor, a philanthropist, and the co-founder of Microsoft, hardly needs any introduction. Since founding Microsoft along with Paul Allen on April 20, 1975, Bill Gates has transitioned from a workaholic CEO to a philanthropist funding projects that would help the poor. Whether you admire him or not, it is hard to deny that the life of this self-made multi-billionaire is anything but uninteresting. So, here are some facts about Bill Gates that we believe you would enjoy reading.

1. Back in his school days, Bill Gates wrote a computer program for scheduling students in classes, which he modified so that he would end up sitting with interesting girls. 

Young Bill Gates
Image Source: bbc

Bill Gates’ love for computers and his fascination for how they would execute a software code so precisely started very early. Once, he and three other students, including Paul Allen who would later be Microsoft’s co-founder, were caught exploiting bugs in the operating system to get extra time on computers. The four of them were then banned, and at the end the ban, they offered to find bugs for free time on computers. They were then hired by another company to write a payroll program in Cobol. After his school administrators came to know about his programming abilities, he and Paul Allen wrote a scheduling program for the school, which they fixed so that there would be more girls. But being two years senior, Paul Allen had to leave for college, and Gates got to enjoy the results of sitting with nice girls.(12)

2. Bill Gates told the creators of the then microcomputer Altair 8800 that he was working on a BASIC interpreter for it when he wasn’t working and didn’t even have an Altair. When the company’s president agreed to meet for a demo, he developed an Altair emulator and the BASIC interpreter in just a few weeks. 

Altair 8800 and Bill Gates
Image Source: wikipedialesstimeandeffort

Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) after he read about their Altair 8800 on the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics and told them he and others are working on a BASIC emulator for it. The demo given at MITS’s office in Albuquerque was a great success and secured him a deal with them to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC.(source)

3. When Bill Gates was accused of stealing from Apple by Steve Jobs, he said, “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
Image Source: merelinc

According to Andy Hertzfeld, a member of Apple Macintosh original development team, the conflict started in November 1983. That year, Microsoft announced a mouse-based graphical user interface environment called Windows at Comdex, a trade show held in Las Vegas twice a year. When Steve Jobs found out about the announcement, he was furious and demanded a meeting with Bill Gates. In the meeting, he made the accusation to which Gates gave that reply. However, when another new version of Windows was released Apple filed a copyright lawsuit against Microsoft in 1988, which it lost on a technicality.(source)

4. In 1994, Bill Gates purchased Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Hammer for over $30 million. Three years after that he distributed the digital version of the Codex as wallpapers, screensavers, and a comprehensive CD. 

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Hammer
Image Source: wikipedia

Bill Gates bought the Codex at Christie’s auction house on November 11, 1994, in New York for $30,802,500. He then had its pages scanned as digital image files and distributed some of them as wallpapers, screensavers, and as the desktop theme for Windows 95. They were also later part of Windows 98 and Windows ME. In 1997, a comprehensive CD version of the Codex titled Leonardo da Vinci was released.(source)

5. Bill Gates had always flown coach, despite being rich and traveling extensively, until 1997 when he finally bought a private jet. 

Bill Gates' Private Jet
He always preferred to just sleep while flying economy class with a blanket over his head. Even the employees are restricted to flying business class only on international flights. Accordingly, instead of having his company pay for his private jet, he bought it himself. He apparently has to fly so much that it became too difficult to match his travel schedule with commercial flight schedules. It is said he would travel commercially when it makes sense.(source)

6. Bill Gates received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2005. However, because of being an American, he cannot use the title “Sir”.

Bill Gates Recieves Knighthood from the Queen
Image Source: bbc
Though he cannot use “Sir” before his name, he could use KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) after his name. He was also awarded Placard of the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest Mexican order awarded to foreigners, along with his wife. He received many other awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, in 2016, for philanthropic efforts.(12)

7. As of 2007, Bill Gates had donated over $28 billion to charity and plans to donate a further 95% of his wealth to charity.

Bill Gates Charity
Image Source: libertatea
Bill Gates has cited David Rockefeller being a major influence in his charity work. The money Bill and Melinda Gates have donated until 2007 puts them in the second place among most charitable philanthropists of America. Also as of 2013, the Gates Foundation reportedly valued at $34.6 billion is considered the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation. Also, it’s the most transparent foundation as it allows its benefactors access to information about how the money is spent.(source)

8. Bill Gates once released mosquitoes during a presentation on malaria, saying “There’s no reason only poor should have this experience.”

During TED2009 conference in Long Beach, California, Bill Gates delivered a presentation on educating about malaria. He eradicated it and released mosquitoes. The media office at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation confirmed the incident and of course, the mosquitoes in question did not have any malaria. Finding vaccine for malaria is one of the Gates Foundation’s projects which also donated $168.7 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.(source)

9. The placeholder silhouette in Microsoft Outlook 2010’s People Pane is actually the silhouette of Bill Gates’ mugshot when he was arrested in 1977.

Bill Gates Mugshot and Placeholder
Image Source: arstechnica
A fallback image/picture is a default generic silhouette used in the place of a contact’s picture when there is no image available or there has been an error. This Bill Gates’ mugshot silhouette was used as a fallback image. The image was taken in Albuquerque, Mexico, back in 1977 for some unknown driving offense.(source)

10. Bill Gates said that he would only leave $10 million to each of his children so that they will find their own way. 

Bill Gates' Family
Image Source: scoopify
In an interview, Bill Gates revealed that his children would only receive a small inheritance. They will receive a very good education, but like all normal children, they will have to earn their income. He also stated that he drives himself a normal Mercedes, there is a Porsche for the family and a minivan when all five of them go out.(source)

11. Bill Gates had written a letter to Steve Jobs, while he was suffering from cancer. Then, Steve Jobs kept it at his bedside. 

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
Image Source: businessinsider
While Steve Jobs was dying of cancer, Bill Gates paid him a visit during which they had spent hours reminiscing and talking about the future. Later, Gates wrote him a letter telling him how great he should feel about all the work he did and the company he built. After Jobs’ death, his wife called Gates telling him how his biography doesn’t depict the “mutual respect they have for each other and that Jobs appreciated the letter and kept it by his bed.”(source)

12. In 2013, Bill Gates revealed that the command ctrl+alt+del was a mistake. It was supposed to be a single button instead. 

Ctrl Alt Del
Image Source: thinkgeek
Gates said that the command had been designed to prevent applications from showing a fake login prompt to the users and steal passwords. It ended up being a combination of three keys instead of a single button because the person who designed the keyboard provide a single button. It was David Bradley, an engineer who worked on the original IBM PC, who designed it. Bradley created that combination to be used for rebooting a PC.(source)

13. There is a website which provides free textbooks for college students. This website was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Openstax Textbooks
Image Source: openstax
OpenStax College is an initiative at Rice University which has been creating peer-reviewed open textbooks, available in both print and digital formats, since 2012. To compete with major publishers’ offerings, the project was initially funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation, and the Maxfield Foundation. The textbooks are published under Creative Commons Attribution Licenses and could be changed to suit the users’ requirements.(source)

14. Bill Gates offered $100,000 to scientists to develop a next generation ultra-thin “barely there” condom that can offer better sexual pleasure and make men less reluctant to use protection. 

Next Generation Condoms
Image Source: konbini
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation received many proposals from scientists as a part of a program known as Grand Challenges. This program aims to improve the lives of the poor. So far, the foundation has given a grant of $100,000 to the University of Manchester to research a condom that uses the super-light conductive material called graphene. $100,000 more went to the University of Oregon for a proposal that uses polyurethane to create a seal around the penis and is half as thick. The idea is to create a “barely there” feel as men say they experience decreased sexual pleasure while using condoms.(source)

15. Bill Gates has sponsored a machine that can turn feces into drinking water and electricity. 

As part of an effort to improve the lives of people in developing countries, the Gates Foundation has been funding research on “Omniprocessor”. This is a machine that burns human waste matter, and in turn, produces water and electricity. The project is an effort to, as Gates says, reinvent sewage treatment plant. He also says that, if the waste is fed to the Omniprocessor instead of dumping it in water bodies, it would be burned safely at a 1000 degrees Celsius. The machine uses a steam engine and is self-sustaining in the sense that it produces enough energy to burn the next batch of waste. Manufactured by Janicki Bioenergy, a new larger model, which is under development, is capable of turning waste from 100,000 people per day and turn it into 86,000 liters of water and 250KW of electricity.(12)

16. Bill Gates has a lifetime McDonald’s Gold Card for unlimited free food. 

Bill Gates with His McDonald's Gold Card
Image Source: cnbc
According to Warren Buffet, Bill Gates’ longtime friend and a holder of the fabled Gold Card himself, Gates’ Gold Card is valid worldwide. Apart from Gates, other lucky people who received the card include the actor Rob Lowe, Charles Ramsey, a goalie named Andrew Hammond, and a philanthropist emcee named Larry Crandell.(source)

17. The net worth of Bill Gates is 5 times more than North Korea’s expected GDP

Bill Gates and North Korea
Image Source: operationworldwikipedia
As of 2014, the Gross Domestic Product of North Korea was $17.4 billion, which comprises 0.03% of the world’s economy, while Bill Gates’ net worth was estimated to be $90 billion. Apart from his company, Microsoft, there are various sources of income for Gates such as his possessions in Canadian National Railway Company and Ecolab.(source)

18. The only thing left on Bill Gates’ bucket list is “Don’t die.”

Bill Gates Reddit AMA
Image Source: huffingtonpost
In a Reddit AMA, Bill Gates has answered many questions posed by various Redditors on topics varying from his technology and his philanthropic work to his personal life. One Redditor asked why, despite being a billionaire, he would only leave $10 million to his children. He answered that “giving kids massive amounts of money is not a favor to them.” Another Redditor asked if he could still jump over chairs, to which he replied that he can’t do it as well as he used to and that it was part of an exercise for snow skiing.(source)
18 Interesting Facts About Bill Gates That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of 18 Interesting Facts About Bill Gates That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Reviewed by 1 on February 18, 2018 Rating: 5
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