Bill Gates is known for many things. For most of his life, he’s been associated with Microsoft, the tech giant that has expanded from software and computers to multiple other tech-based consumer products. He’s also known for being one of the wealthiest men in the world, and for using that wealth, through his charitable organization the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to advocate for such causes as global public health initiatives and combating climate change. Further, Gates has been subject to various unfounded conspiracy theories, suggesting everything from the claim that he’s using vaccinations to implant tracking chips into people, to planning to somehow block the sun’s rays from reaching the earth in order to slow global warming, according to Newsweek.
One thing he is not associated with, however, is criminal activity. Though a rumor that popped up in the early spring of 2021 suggested that he’d been arrested for a knife attack in Nebraska (the perp was actually the similarly-named Willie Gates, who is no relation), he’s actually kept his nose clean, legally, for the past several decades.
That wasn’t the case in the 1970s, however. In 1977, Gates was picked up for an unspecified traffic infraction in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for reasons that remain unclear.
Bill Gates was arrested for … a traffic violation
Back in the 1970s, Gates was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he and childhood friend Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft. On the night of December 13, 1977, Albuquerque police booked Gates into jail, in the process producing the famed mugshot of a smiling, considerably younger Gates that continues to circulate around the internet to this day.
According to Ars Technica, the reason for Gates’ arrest has been “lost to the sands of time.” Buzzfeed, however, says that the future tech billionaire was picked up for driving without a license and failing to stop at a stop sign.
Regardless of the specifics, one thing that stands out is Gates’ seeming indifference to his fate as he smiles at the camera.
In fact, the founder’s mugshot may have wound up being an in-joke at Microsoft. Ars Technica pointed out that one graphic that appeared in Outlook 2010, intended to represent a silhouette of a person, bears an uncanny resemblance to the outline of Gates’ mugshot.
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