Bill Gates Personal Wealth Clock

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

Wed Nov 26 07:49:17 EST 2014
Microsoft Stock Price: $47.47
Bill Gates's Wealth: $110.503836 billion
U.S. Population: 317,136,637
Your Personal Contribution: $348.44

"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. The clock adjusts for the extraodinary $3.29 billion dividend that Bill Gates received from Microsoft at the end of 2004.

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? There are two ways to look at this. One is that Bill Gates is directly involved in managing his charitable foundation. So he still controls the money, though of course it will be used only for certain kinds of purposes. If you were a real cynic you might note that Bill's charitable inclinations remained, uh, undiscovered until the Federal Government began to file anti-trust lawsuits. You would then see his charitable contributions as 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. You are invited to try an international version of the Clock.

How it Works

... is explained in somewhat simplified form, including source code, in Chapter 10 of Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing. The program took about one hour from start to finish and was built back in 1995 as an example for MIT students of the future of Web service design: servers that combine information and services from other servers (see Ironically this approach to distributed computing over the Internet was ignored by most of the rest of the world except for one company: Microsoft! If you look at Microsoft .NET you'll see that it provides extensive support for building applications like this wealth clock.

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

The actual source code is available and is intended primarily for Computer Science majors working through the textbook Software Engineering for Internet Applications.