Gates III was born on Oct. 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington. His father, William H. Gates II, was an attorney, and his mother, Mary Gates, was a teacher and a chair of United Way International.
In 1973, Gates was admitted to Harvard University, where he had a dormitory friend by the name of Steve Ballmer. Their friendship would turn into a business partnership; Ballmer is now Microsoft CorporationÂ’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
While still at university, Bill developed a version of the BASIC programming language for the first microcomputer, the Altair. In his third year at university, he quit to put all his talents into Microsoft, a company he started in 1975 with a friend from his childhood, Paul Allen. Motivated by the belief that computers would be valuable tools found in most offices and homes, Gates and Allen developed software for Personal Computers (PCs). GatesÂ’s commitment to innovation continues into the present. During the week of February 14, 2005, for example, he said in a speech to security experts at the RSA Conference in San Jose, California, that his company would give away software to battle against spyware, adware, and other privacy-intrusion cyber pests.
Despite being famous as a businessman, probably few people know that Bill Gates was targeted in the late 1990s by an extortionist who threatened to kill him, according to court documents filed in May of that year. Though the perpetrator of the crime originally sent a threatening message to Mr. Gates using regular mail, he then asked the target to acknowledge acceptance of the letter by posting a specific message on the AOL Netgirl Bulletin Board.
Mr. Gates also received a letter from the extortionist with the instructions not only to create an account for a Â“Mr. Robert M. RathÂ” at a bank in Luxemburg but also to transfer more than $5 million to that account. The words in the letter warned that the money was to be deposited by April 26, 1997, if Gates was to avoid being killed, among other things. To push the point further home, the perpetrator enclosed with the letter a disk and an image of Elvira (the Â“Mistress of the DarkÂ” TV personality).
Mr. Gates was further instructed to use a special means of encrypting instructions to access the account by telephone or fax. He was then supposed to place the ciphertext to the imageÂ’s bottom and upload it to a set of image collections in the AOL Photography Forum. Mr. Gates went to the FBI and with its guidance, he uploaded the graphic image to AOL as instructed by the extortionist. The good news is that by the end of this exploit, Bill Gates did not lose his money and no one was injured. The threat was eventually traced to an Adam Quinn Pletcher, who lived in Illinois. On May 9, 1997, Mr. Pletcher pleaded guilty to writing and posting the threatening letters to Mr. Gates.
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