Many aspects of Bill and Melinda Gates’ marriage will certainly never be fully understood, as the ex-couple revealed their separation on Twitter earlier this week after spending 27 years together. However, a 1997 Time Magazine profile that resurfaced today helps expose his relationship with longtime ex-girlfriend Ann Winblad, including how they stayed involved after his marriage to Melinda.

According to the magazine, Gates and Winblad spent a long weekend on the beach once a year after he married Melinda in 1994,  and it seems to have been an agreed-upon dynamic with Melinda.

In 1997, Time writer Walter Isaacson wrote the profile on Bill Gates’ personality and his close relationship with Melinda, in which Winblad’s relationship with Melinda was detailed. 

“Another of Gates’ vacation companions is Ann Winblad, the software entrepreneur and venture capitalist he dated during the 1980s,” Isaacson wrote. “They met in 1984 at a Ben Rosen-Esther Dyson computer conference and started going on ‘virtual dates’ by driving to the same movie at the same time in different cities and discussing it on their cell phones. For a few years she even persuaded him to stop eating meat, an experiment he has since resolutely abandoned.”

“They broke up in 1987, partly because Winblad, five years older, was more ready for marriage,” the article went on. “But they remain close friends. ‘When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda,’ Gates says, ‘I called Ann and asked for her approval.’ She gave it. ‘I said she’d be a good match for him because she had intellectual stamina.’ Even now, Gates has an arrangement with his wife that he and Winblad can keep one vacation tradition alive. Every spring, as they have for more than a decade, Gates spends a long weekend with Winblad at her beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they ride dune buggies, hang-glide and walk on the beach.”

Though Isaacson describes their connection as “special,” readers at the time of the article and now were shocked to learn that Melinda would be on board for such an intimate annual trip.

According to Time, when the couple traveled to Brazil, Gates brought a 1,100-page textbook on molecular biology, which the two read together.

Winblad brought tapes of renowned physicist Richard Feynman with him on a trip to a ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif., so that they could listen to them.

“They were kindred minds as well as spirits. On a vacation to Brazil, he took James Watson’s 1,100-page textbook, Molecular Biology of the Gene, and they studied bioengineering together. On another vacation, to a Santa Barbara, California, ranch, she took tapes of Richard Feynman’s lectures at Cornell, and they studied physics.”

In an interview for the same piece, Gates gushed about his ex-girlfriend, saying she “brings a sense of enjoyment and humor to even the most serious situations.”

A source familiar with Winblad’s hubby, Alex Kline, 63, said they married six years ago.

According to Stanford magazine in 2000, Kline is a private investigator and a Stanford University graduate who appeared as an extra in big brother Kevin’s wacky 1988 film “A Fish Called Wanda.”

Kline has two adult kids from a previous marriage, the source said.

Melinda and Bill Gates confirmed their divorce earlier this week, citing an “irretrievably broken” marriage and confirming that despite the breakup, they will both continue to work at the Gates Foundation.

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