In an interview with BBC’s Kirsty Young, Bill Gates outlined what his desert island playlist would consist of and spoke candidly about his childhood, business practices, and meeting his wife Melinda.
Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft with fellow programmer and friend Paul Allen at just 19-years old, after foregoing an education at Harvard. The two funded the company on their own, with savings they had socked away from previous programming gigs.
Gates confessed about one project in particular, where the pair rigged the high school’s computer software to guarantee Gates was the only boy in classes full of girls. It wasn’t the first time Gates tried to bend the rules in his favor. Further recalling his childhood, Gates talks about when his parents sought the expertise of a psychologist to correct their 12 year old’s “disruptive” habit of continuously questioning their rules.
After a brief two year stint with the shrink, who, according to Gates, “convinced me it was kind of an unfair thing that I would challenge my parents and I really wasn’t proving anything,” he turned his focus to writing computer software.
The early years of Microsoft were “really frantic” says Gates of his self-imposed nonstop work schedule. “I had to be a little careful not to try and apply my standards to how hard [others at the company] worked. I knew everybody’s license plate so I could look out the parking lot and see, you know, when people come in. Eventually I had to loosen up as the company got to a reasonable size.”
Gates would eventually collaborate with Steve Jobs to write software for the original Apple II. He spoke highly in the interview of his late rival, who he believes was “an incredible genius [and] a singular person in the history of personal computing.”
The Microsoft co-founder went on to share about how he met his wife Melinda. While neither expected their relationship to become serious, Gates says Melinda “arrived at kind of the perfect time, and we fell in love,” prompting him to re-evaluate his priorities and unwind a “fanatical” approach to his work.
After a trip to Africa, the couple — who currently serve as co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — has taken on the eradication of diseases fatal to the very young, and say that they are focused on spending the majority of their fortune in the “most impactful way,” noting their realization that “for each $1,000 we gave, if we did it the right way, we could save a life.”