BILL GATES William H. (Bill) Gates - Chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft. Born October 28, 1955 shortly after 9 PM. He is reported to be the richest private individual in the World topping the Forbes list of richest people for both 1996 and 1997 INVENTIONS Gates and his pal Paul Allen produced two programs in the 8th grade: one played tic-tac-toe. Before long, they were moonlighting as adolescent computer consultants for a local corporation. In high school, Gates and his friends devised a program that analyzed traffic data for his hometown Windows takes over Soon after Gates unveiled his Windows 3.0 program in 1990, the applications software industry was crying uncle. Over 60 million copies of the Windows progam were sold, which established Microsoft's operating system as the PC software standard and left companies like Lotus and WordPerfect scrambling because they had been creating applications for IBM's system, the OS/2. Six years after the Windows launch, Microsoft dominates the word processing and spreadsheet mark. Corporation as Cult The suburban Microsoft "campus," a cluster of 35 low-rise buildings, is set among lawns, groves of white pines and shady courtyards that make the place resemble a college. But in contrast to the sedate intellectualism of the average college, Microsoft rewards the brusque "math camp" mentality: a lot of cocky geeks willing to wave their fingers and yell with the cute conviction that all problems have a right answer. Among Gates favorite phrases is "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," and victims wear it as a badge of honor, bragging about it the way they do about getting a late-night E-mail from him. POSSESSIONS Built into a bluff fronting Lake Washington, the home Gates has been working on for more than four years has 40,000 square feet of living space and a vaulted 30-car garage. One of his favorite features: two dozen 40-in. monitors will form a flat-screen display covering an entire wall. As visitors pass into each room, wearing an electronically -coded pin, music they like will begin to play. Estimated Value: $40 million. When Microsoft was based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in its early years, Gates bought a Porsche 911 and used to race it in the desert; Paul Allen had to bail him out of jail after one midnight escapade. Later, he bought a Porsche 930 Turbo he called the "rocket," then a Mercedes, a Jaguar XJ6, a $60,000 Carrera Cabriolet 964, a $380,000 Porsche 959 that ended up impounded in a customs shed because it couldn't meet import emission standards, and a Ferrari 348 that became known as the "dune buggy" after he spun it into the sand. THE STOP GATES CLUB Netscape, Oracle and Sun have publicly made thwarting Gates's "plan for world domination" a holy crusade. They accuse him of trying to leverage Microsoft's near-monopoly in desktop operating systems unfairly with the goal of dominating everything from word processing and spreadsheet applications to web browsers and content. "Where will it stop? They'll go on to bundle in content, their Microsoft Network, financial transactions, travel services, everything. They have a game plan to monopolize every market they touch," says Gary Reback, the Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer representing Netscape and other Microsoft competitors. Gates makes no apologies for integrating his own browser into Windows.