Billion-dollar man back in his element
Charles Arthur joins a celebrity audience to see Bill Gates, head of Microsoft, demonstrate his new on-line network
Friday 01 September 1995
"Would you want to see Bill Gates, The Movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing you?" asked Jonathan Ross, the television personality.
Mr Gates thought not.
No one could fault him on his casting ability. He is not, to be truthful, the muscular type. But the man who has made a $13bn fortune (pounds 8.4bn) as chairman of Microsoft, the world's largest computer software company, still wears big glasses and ties that could be called unfashionably wide.
However, his presence packs an intellectual muscle that means people are keen to meet him, or be seen with him.
Officially, Mr Gates, 38, was in London to launch Microsoft Network, the on-line service by which users of Windows 95, the company's new operating system, can get home banking via Barclays Bank, financial information from Dun & Bradstreet, or order clothes and other goods electronically from retailers such as Great Universal Stores.
To show off these capabilities, Mr Gates first demonstrated the system to an invited audience of celebrities, including Mr Ross, Carol Vorderman, the former Tomorrow's World presenter, David Gower, the former English cricket captain, Angela Rippon, the former BBC newscaster, and David Emanuel, the designer of the wedding dress worn by (the then) Lady Diana Spencer when she married the Prince of Wales.
Given he was formerly a full-time software programmer, Mr Gates was back in his element. He gave them his vision of the future. "The opportunity from these technologies, such as personal computers, is pretty incredible," he said. "It's going to lead to a pretty fundamental change in education and revolutionise business."
Mr Gates still sees great possibilities for the education of the world's children.
"I do believe that the computer can be used to improve education, but there have been promises made in the past that haven't been lived up to. There are ways of using computers in education where it is just a quizzing device, asking questions that have to be answered. That isn't so useful.
"But computers can be used in schools so that the curriculum fits around what's available through the computer. I really envy kids who grow up today with PCs with multimedia and CD-roms and all the educational tools available today."
Mr Ross thought that his own time had been well spent. "I'm quite interested in computers. I've used Apple Macs for 10 years. But today is something to tell my friends about - 'I saw Bill, yeah that Bill, the other day, told him a few things he's got fundamentally wrong, you know'..."
But overall, he declared himself impressed. "He's not nearly as nerdy as I expected, you know," he said.
By which time Mr Gates was safely out of earshot.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The majority of sex workers enjoy their job - why should we find that surprising?
Out-of-touch MPs ‘don’t get it’, says ex-Civil Service chief
George Clooney and Amal fail to get special treatment at New York restaurant
Cindy Crawford 'un-PhotoShopped' viral Marie Claire image was doctored, photographer claims
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Central London based firm loo...
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£14400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a multi-d...
£34000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of Energy Consult...