Letterman: "Why don't I have a computer?"
Gates: "We need to find an application for you. Part of your problem is that you have
too many assistants."
<S K I P>
Letterman: "What about this Internet thing -- Do you know anything about that?"
Letterman continues: “What the hell is [the internet] exactly?”
“A place where people can publish information. They can have their own homepage,
companies are there, the latest information,” Gates says.
“It’s wild what’s going on.”
Letterman wasn’t sold.
“I heard you could watch a live baseball game on the internet and I was like, does
radio ring a bell?” Letterman says.
Gates said unlike with radio, the internet would allow users to watch a baseball game
whenever they wanted instead of live.
″[Do] tape recorders ring a bell?” Letterman asks.
Gates, who dropped out of Harvard at the age of 19 to start Microsoft in 1975, also told
Letterman “you can find other people who have the same usual interests as you do,” by
searching the web.
In addition to working to make computers a useful tool for connecting and for education,
Gates predicted the advent of artificial intelligence; he told Letterman there might be a
way to make computers think on their own.
At the time, however, Gates was not sure how that would work.
“That turns out to be a very tough problem,” Gates says. “In fact, there has been
almost no progress made on it, so no one knows what that will happen. Some people
think it will never happen.”
Gates called the idea of an intelligent computer a very “scary thought.”
(Twenty-four years later, Gates still has a similar view: In March, Gates called A.I.
both “promising and dangerous.”)
So what were Letterman’s final thoughts on the web? “It’s too bad there
is no money in [computers and the internet],” he told his billionaire guest.
Gates also mentioned that his new house under construction is expected to be completed
sometime in 1996 and its total size will exceed 50,000 square feet in size!
From Google (2021): "The average number of occupants in each home fell,
while the average size of a new single-family home ballooned - from just
909 square feet in 1949 to 2,480 square feet in 2021."