Bill Gates

Bill Gates recalls his 'spontaneous' first date with wife

Jan. 30, 2013 at 11:41 AM ET

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images /
Bill Gates has been married for 19 years and has three children. Here, the Gates visit Downing Street on October 18, 2010 in London.

Bill Gates is the second richest man in the world and the fourth most powerful according to Forbes, but there was a time when he was just a boy asking out a girl in the office parking lot.

“The first time he asked me out, he said, ‘Could you go out two weeks from this coming Saturday?’” his wife Melinda Gates said in a recent NPR interview. “And I said, ‘Well, that’s not exactly spontaneous…I was like, wow, who knows their calendar two weeks from Saturday night?’”

Melinda worked at Microsoft, where Gates was and still is the head honcho. We asked Gates for his side of the story.

Melinda "followed up by saying, ‘Hey that’s too far from now, call me closer to the date.’ And then I called her back later that night and said, ‘What about getting together quite late tonight?’ Gates told “And she said, ‘Well, yeah, that’s spontaneous.’”

Despite his riches, there was no wining and dining on this first date.

“I had a computer user group meeting I was speaking at, so our first date was quite late that night,” he said. “It was late enough that I’m not sure what was open by then. So we sat at my house and talked.”

Nineteen years of marriage and three children later, the couple is doing something right. 

“We read a lot of the same books together and talk about that,” he said of keeping the spark alive. “You’ve got to put energy into making sure you know what the other person’s thinking. You can read books that talk about relationships and see how each of you are thinking about things.”

The busy couple set aside time for each other and their kids, in addition to all the time they spend together traveling for their foundation.

Gates appeared on TODAY to talk about the work of his foundation, through which he has given away 48 percent of his net worth, and his plan to eradicate polio within the next six years. He also spoke with about the foundation’s latest endeavor, the My Hope for 2030 campaign, which is soliciting ideas from the general public for what changes they’d like to see in the world by 2030.

Some submissions will be featured in Gates' annual letter, and may inform where resources go in the future.

“If you look at political deadlocks or budget crises that are happening, it’s a little bit easy to lose sight of how much things are improving,” he said. “So whether it’s a dream about help for the poor, eradicating diseases or how we can take tech and make education a lot more fun, it’s great to get young people talking about these things, get involved and have a real sense of the possibility that isn’t the main part of the dialogue right now.”

Want to share your ideas with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? Click here for more information.  

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