Bill Gates' big mouth

"I've said some stupid things and some wrong things,” Bill Gates has said. He has also had plenty to say that is profound.

As Bill prepares to hand over the reins of Microsoft at the end of the month, here are some of his more notable comments, assembled from the Microsoft press site and the IDG News Service which, every day for almost two decades, has covered the man who revolutionised IT.

"If I were a guy who just wanted to win, I would have already moved on to another arena. If I'd had some set idea of a finish line, don't you think I would have crossed it years ago?" Playboy magazine interview, 1994.

"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction." From his book, "The Road Ahead," published in 1996.

"I wish I got a chance to write more code. I do mess around. They don't let my code go in shipping products. They haven't done that for about eight years now. And when I say I'm going to come in and write this over the weekend, they don't really believe me quite as much as they used to." September 26, 1997, speaking in San Diego.

"Well, remember, I don't own dollars. I own Microsoft stock. So it's only through multiplication that you convert what I own into some scary number." Playboy interview, 1994.

"I wish I wasn't [the world's richest man]. There is nothing good that comes out of that." 2006, speaking in Seattle.

"I have to say, it's kind of fun to be the underdog (when it comes to search) ... We've done more on this to build a great team then on any effort I can remember," he said. - at advance08, the Future of Media, May 21, 2008, Redmond, Washington.

"And so it's fair to say what's going on today is like the arrival of the printing press, or the telephone or the radio. And these communications tools did have pervasive effects. They made the world a smaller place. They allowed science to be done more efficiently. They allowed politics to be done a new way. They had a modest impact on how people were educated, but people were optimistic that they would make a very big change. Now, the personal computer connected to the Internet is far more powerful in many ways than any of these other communications devices." Harvard Conference on Internet Society, May 29, 1996, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"The PC and the Internet are going to be fundamental. They're not there yet, but we're certainly on a course to do that, and it will be just like the automobile." Windows '98 launch, June 25, 1998, San Francisco.

"You know, in many people's cases, they decide they want to pass most of their wealth on to their children, and that's a perfectly legitimate choice. In my case, I think it's better for society and better for my children if the vast bulk of the wealth that I'm lucky enough to be shepherding at this point, if that goes back to causes that are important, things like access to technology, education, medical research, social services and a variety of things." Interview with Charlie Rose, March 4, 1998.

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Nancy Weil

IDG News Service
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