Bill and Melinda Gates were Microsoft’s dynamic duo back in the day. Back in the ’80s, Bill Gates was pushing the Microsoft name to global prominence while Melinda Gates developed products to help him achieve that goal. In fact, if you’ve used Microsoft Encarta, Microsoft Cinemania and Microsoft Word before, then you’ve used one of Microsoft’s programs where Melinda had a hand in its development.

However, after 27 years of marriage, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates have recently announced that they have filed for divorce.

Bill and Melinda’s story as a couple began in 1987 at a trade fair in New York. Back then, Melinda was known by her maiden name: Melinda French. She was Microsoft’s 23-year old product manager at the time, primarily developing multimedia and interactive products for the company. Her organisation and bright mind attracted Bill Gates to her, resulting in an intimate and intellectual connection between the two. Although she was put off by his over-planning of their first date, she accepted this part of the young Bill Gates, whose schedule did not allow for spontaneity.

Then, on New Year’s day of 1994, the two of them tied the knot in a private ceremony in Lanai, an island in Hawaii. She gave birth to three children during their years as a married couple: Jennifer Katharine, Rory John and Phoebe Adele.

Before their wedding, however, Melinda Gates read a letter from her mother, who was suffering from breast cancer, urging her to give back to the community; to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. Although her mother died months after, the letter’s message stuck with Melinda. This, along with chancing upon an article about children in poor countries dying from diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, pushed Melinda and Bill to start a charity. This was how the Bill and Melinda Foundation was created.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates (left) and Bill Gates (right)
Credit: GatesNotes.com

The foundation they co-founded has donated US$53.8 billion since 2000, according to the Foundation’s history page. The foundation also committed US$1.75 billion to the US government’s pandemic response in December 2020. Both Melinda and Bill stressed that the government’s pandemic response was filled with mismanagement “every step of the way” back in September 2020.

Unfortunately, despite these achievements in philanthropy and technology as well as three children, their marriage would not last. Bill Gates stated in his joint tweet with Melinda that both of them “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple” in the next phase of their lives.

The New York Times reported that Bill and Melinda’s divorce does not affect the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in any way. They will still be working together as co-chairs and trustees “to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues and set the organisation’s overall direction.”


Written by John Paul Joaquin