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Monday, October 17, 2005

Forbes.com - Magazine Article

Forbes.com - Magazine Article'Breathtaking': Gates Gives $15M To Tech Museum
Greg Levine, 10.17.05, 1:03 PM ET

Two coasts divided by a common country.

Boston has the eclectic Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. New York City has "the Met," the Museum of Natural History and, of course, the Museum of Sex.

But the U.S.' Pacific coast is not without its cultural monuments, too.

The Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, Calif., was opened in 1996. Perhaps the cataloging of silicon chips doesn't move you as does, say, the enormity of a brontosaurus' skeleton, the eerie awe of an Egyptian tomb or even a clinical exegesis on the importance of leather apparel in pre-WWII bawdiness.

Well, Bill Gates wants to change your outlook. The chairman of Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) naturally takes all things cybernetic to heart. And the billionaire--ranked No. 1 on our Forbes 400 Richest Americans list--is taking action.

The charitable group he founded with his wife, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has pledged a $15 million gift to the museum. Officials of the Silicon Valley-based shrine to zeroes and ones, said the foundation's gift was the largest donation the museum has yet received. Further, they said the generous gift means the Computer History Museum now requires only an additional $50 million to reach its goal of $125 million--enough to allow the creation of a full range of educational programs and exhibits and establish a long-term endowment.

"The impact on our society of the computing revolution is simply breathtaking--it has changed the way we work, play, learn and communicate," The Associated Press quoted Gates as enthusing. "It's our responsibility to collect the artifacts and stories today that will explain this incredible change to future generations."

"Breathtaking" may be an adverbial description in the eye of the beholder. But hey, while we were all gasping at the tyrannosaurus rex or that special-someone's curvaceousness, Gates was busy becoming the world's richest man: $46.5 billion can make you hyperventilate.

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