It’s hard to argue against the idea that Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, is one of the most influential individuals of our time. He’s done wonders for the personal computer and for philanthropy, and has been interviewed over and over and over again. For today’s Microsoft Monday I decided to go digging through some of those interviews he’s had and pull out some of my favorite quotes. It was during the process of searching for quotes that I realized just how many times he’s been interviewed. I sorted through interview upon interview looking for some great quotes, and I found them. Below you’ll find a collection of Bill Gates quotes from interviews that he’s given over the last 15 years.
About the future and the “information highway” (Internet)… 1994
Playboy Magazine interviews Bill Gates, 1994:
Playboy: Let’s start small. Explain the future.
Gates: OK. [Laughs] Today, the PC is used as a primary tool for creating documents of many types; word processing, spreadsheets, presentations. But by and large, when you want to find a document, archive it or transmit it, you don’t really use the electronic form. You get it out on paper and send it. In the coming information age, access to documents, broadly defined, will be done electronically, just by traveling across a network that people now call an information highway. It’s also called digital convergence, a term popularized by John Sculley, and information at your fingertips, a term I use a lot. I’m quite content this will happen. I could be wrong about how quickly.
About the PC eventually dealing with “difficult things” like Motion Video…1995
National Museum of American History, Transcript of a Video History Interview with David Allison and Bill Gates, 1995:
Interviewer: Bill, you’re famous for a vision that you had about personal computers. Can you tell us about the vision?
Gates: The vision is really that in the information age that the microprocessor-based machine, the PC, along with great software, can become sort of the ultimate tool dealing with not just text, but numbers and pictures, and eventually, even difficult things like motion video. And that is something that when Paul and I would go around speaking about computers, we would always say that there were no limits. We used to call it the “MiPs to the Moon” speech. That performance would be unbounded and that all of these incredible things would happen. We were never too specific about exactly when various things would happen. And, of course, when we went back to our business we had to decide what our priorities were. But, the frontiers were sort of wide open. It was that sense of excitement that we really wanted to spark in everybody else wherever we went.
From The Road Ahead by Bill Gates in 1996
Gates: Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.
About the Internet becoming a phenomenon…1998
Gates and long-time pal Warren Buffet spoke to students at the University of Washington, 1998:
Gates: Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority. It wasn’t like somebody told me about it and I said, “I don’t know how to spell that.” I said, “Yeah, I’ve got that on my list, so I’m okay.” But there came a point when we realized it was happening faster and was a much deeper phenomenon than had been recognized in our strategy.
About the Digital Age…1999
In 1999, Bill Gates published a book called Business @ The Speed of Thought in which he listed 12 different steps companies could take to survive the new millennium in a digital age.
Gates: Rule #5 of 12 is “Convert every paper process to a digital process.”
Gates: Rules #1 of 12 is “Insist that communication flow through email.”
Almost 10 years later, most paper processes have turned into digital ones and a good chunk of daily communication is through email.
About his dreams… 2000
In 2000, Bill Gates sat down with Larry King and was asked all kinds of questions. Among them were…
King: Were your dreams of — were your dreams money or were your dreams invention?
Gates: Paul [Allen] and I — we never thought that we would make much money out of the thing. We just loved writing software. You know, we thought that software had a certain intricacy, a certain elegance. And the idea of using software to empower people, whether it’s letting them communicate new ways or create rich documents, you know, we saw that software was sort of an unlimited thing that we kind of understood. Most of the people in the computer industry thought about the hardware piece. But we had latched on to software…
About Giving Back…2001
BBC Newsround interviews Bill Gates December 7, 2001:
BBC: What is it like to be called the richest man in the world?
Gates: I’m surprised whenever I hear that! What it really means for me is that I have a lot of resources to give back to my Foundation and hopefully do a lot of good things because of that.
About Giving Money Away…2003
Bill Moyers Interviews Bill Gates on PBS May 9, 2003
Moyers: You were clearly competent at making money. Did you doubt your competence in giving it away?
Gates: I actually thought that it would be a little confusing during the same period of your life to be in one meeting when you’re trying to make money, and then go to another meeting where you’re giving it away. I mean is it gonna erode your ability, you know, to make money? Are you gonna somehow get confused about what you’re trying to do?
Moyers: It’s a nice confusion. It’s a very nice confusion.
About Firefox and Competition…2005
One-on-One with Bill Gates – Peter Jennings from ABC interviews Gates on February 16, 2005:
Jennings: I read an article coming up here on Firefox (Web browser) and its perceived ability to do this better than you. Is that fair?
Gates: Well, there’s competition in every place that we’re in. The browser space that we are in we have about 90 percent. Sure Firefox has come along and the press love the idea of that. Our commitment is to keep our browser that competes with Firefox to be the best browser — best in security, best in features. In fact, we just announced that we’ll have a new version of the browser so we’re innovating very rapidly there and it’s our commitment to have the best.
Jennings: Are you going to have to push your browser faster because of competition?
Gates: Well, competition is always a fantastic thing, and the computer industry?
Jennings: I knew you were going to say that (laughs).
Gates: (smiles) … is intensely competitive. Whether it’s Google or Apple or free software, we’ve got some fantastic competitors and it keeps us on our toes.
About using tablet devices in schools instead of textbooks…2007
Time Magazine February, 2007:
Time: So what’s the future of a print medium like ours?
Gates: One of the next things we’re after is textbooks, because if you can take the money spent on textbooks and put that into buying tablet devices for all the kids, they have less to carry around. It can be more easily customized, more interactive.
Don’t forget to checkout when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got together for an interview…
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