Bill Gates Personal Wealth Clock

just a small portion of Why Bill Gates is Richer than You by Philip Greenspun

Sat Oct 23 07:07:59 EDT 1999
Microsoft Stock Price: $92.6875
Bill Gates's Wealth: $104.670000 billion
U.S. Population: 273,811,513
Your Personal Contribution: $382.27

"If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at the people He gives it to."
-- Old Irish Saying


The Clock attempts to accurately display Bill Gates's wealth, not the value of his current holdings of Microsoft stock. We take as a baseline of his wealth the shares of Microsoft that he held in 1995. This is an understatement because it doesn't include the multi-million dollar trust funds he received at birth from his grandparents, houses, stock, and other gifts from his wealthy parents, or investments he purchased with sales of Microsoft shares sold prior to 1995.

What about shares sold subsequent to 1995? Don't they balance out this understatement of wealth? No. If Gates sold Microsoft shares to purchase shares in cable TV companies, Corbis, or whatever, we assume that these investments have performed about as well as Microsoft. What about charity? Bill Gates was rich from the day of his birth until 1997 but was apparently not charitably disposed at any time during those 42 years. As the Federal Government began to file anti-trust lawsuits, Bill Gates began to give away some money. Thus the Clock considers his charitable contributions to be investments in the maintenance of Microsoft's monopoly and not reductions in wealth.


As the author of such books as Canada: More than Just a Brand Name?, I am well aware of the importance of multi-nationalism. I have therefore heeded the pleas of thousands and developed an international version of the Clock.

How it Works

... is explained in exquisitely painful detail in Chapter 10 of Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing. The short answer is that I wrote a little Tcl program that runs inside the mighty AOLserver. It took me about an hour from start to finish. It is not a CGI script that squanders precious server resources -- an important consideration for this service, which has gotten as many as two hits/second (when Netscape linked it from their What's New page).

In order to provide you with faster service, and to reduce the load on the subsidiary Web sites, I cache the page. However, you can also operate the clock in real time mode, which will update the cache for everyone else.