In the past several decades, Microsoft’s departing leader has provided plenty of choice quotes for audiences to ponder.
Some of the most oft-repeated comments attributed to Bill Gates through the years were not uttered by Bill Gates. Take for instance “640K ought to be enough for anybody,” which he supposedly said in 1981 to note that the 640KB of memory in IBM’s PC was a significant breakthrough. Or his alleged comment that if General Motors “had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles per gallon.”
The latter is listed at the snopes.com Web site as an urban legend, and Gates has addressed the 640KB quote in interviews. “I’ve said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time … I keep bumping into that silly quotation attributed to me that says 640K of memory is enough. There’s never a citation; the quotation just floats like a rumor, repeated again and again,” he told Bloomberg Business News in 1996. “Do you realize the pain the industry went through while the IBM PC was limited to 640K? The machine was going to be 512K at one point, and we kept pushing it up. I never said that statement — I said the opposite of that.”
To assemble comments Gates actually did make over the years, we poured through the extensive speech archive at the Microsoft Web site, as well as the IDG News Service story archives and other interview sources available on the Internet. Reading over speeches and old interviews provided a reminder that Gates is a visionary, a smart man with a range of knowledge about a lot of subjects.