Bill Gates Bill Gates was born in Seattle, Washington to William H. Gates, Sr. and teacher Mary Maxwell Gates. His family was wealthy; his father was a prominent lawyer and his maternal grandfather, J. W. Maxwell, was a national bank president. Gates has two younger sisters, Kristanne and Libby.
According to a widely repeated story, Maxwell set up a million (or multi-million) dollar trust fund for Gates the year he was born. Gates commented on the story in a 1994 interview with Playboy:
PLAYBOY: Did you have a million-dollar trust fund while you were at Harvard?
GATES: . . . . My parents are very successful, and I went to the nicest private school in the Seattle area. I was lucky. But I never had any trust funds of any kind, though my dad did pay my tuition at Harvard, which was quite expensive.
A 1993 biography by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews calls the trust fund story one of the "fictions" surrounding Gates' fortune.
Gates excelled in elementary school, particularly in mathematics and the sciences. Bill Gates went to Lakeside, Seattle's most exclusive preparatory school where tuition in 1967 was $5,000 (Harvard tuition that year was $1760). Lakeside rented time on a DEC PDP-10, which Gates was able to use to pursue an interest in computers, a rare opportunity at the time. Gates was a member of the Boy Scouts of America and attained the rank of Life Scout. While in high school, he and Paul Allen founded Traf-O-Data, a company which sold traffic flow data systems to state governments. He also helped to create a payroll system in COBOL, for a company in Portland, Oregon.
According to a press inquiry he scored 1590 on his SATs, and was able to enroll in Harvard University pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science in 1973, where he met his future business partner, Steve Ballmer. During his second year at Harvard, Gates (along with Paul Allen and Monte Davidoff) co-wrote Altair BASIC for the Altair 8800. Gates dropped out of Harvard during his third year to pursue a career in software development. On December 13, 1977, Gates was briefly jailed in Albuquerque for racing his Porsche 911 in the New Mexico desert.