So besides being the dude to become the world’s first trillionaire and trying to save Africa with a super clean poop machine, Bill Gates can also add soothesaying to his resume. 1994 was a year that began to mark the beginning of the dot com era, a profitable boom in consumer and economic confidence since the technology had so much potential for commerce. It was also the year that Bill Gates first landed on top of the Forbes list, and Microsoft was quickly becoming a powerhouse in the PC department.
At first, the internet was developed as a military communications network, a broad and expansive means of sharing information and in particular governmental documents. Eventually the consumer market gained access, and the world would be changed forever. Gates envisioned that with time, the technology would become more personally interested, and be good enough to satisfy various consumer needs. For example, a prediction he had in our 1994 Playboy interview eerily sounds like the Netflix we know and binge today.
“Say you want to watch a movie. To choose, you’ll want to know what movies others liked and, based on what you thought of other movies you’ve seen, if this is a movie you’d like,” he said. “You’ll be able to browse that information. Then you select and get video on demand. Afterward, you can even share what you thought of the movie.”
A decade and some change later, Netflix launches in 2007. Gates also had the foresight to see that the internet, a technological innovation concerning the exchange of information, would also become a means of socialization and self-expression. What he describes, sounds an awful lot like Facebook.
“Think about how you find people with common interests, how you pick a doctor, how you decide what book to read. Right now it’s hard to reach out to a broad range of people. You are tied into the physical community near you. But in the new environment, because of how information is stored and accessed, that community will expand. This tool will be empowering, the infrastructure will be built quickly and the impact will be broad.”
With an estimated 1.23 billion users, it would appear even he may not even have known how right he was. Feel free to read the interview in it’s entirety here, and marvel at how much the world has changed from the eyes of one of the future’s biggest influencers.