Bill Gates Personal Wealth Clock

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

Thu May 6 12:06:14 EDT 2021
Microsoft Stock Price: $246.47
Bill Gates's Wealth: $559.96 billion
U.S. Population: 330,237,453
Your Personal Contribution: $1695.62

"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 may be an understatement because it doesn't include any investments he purchased with sales of Microsoft shares sold prior to 1995. The clock adjusts for the extraordinary $3.29 billion dividend that Bill Gates received from Microsoft at the end of 2004.

What about shares sold subsequent to 1995? 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 is directly involved in managing his charitable foundation. So he still controls the money and it remains a form of wealth, even if he can't spend it at Target.

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 clock 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 was ignored by most of the rest of the world except for one company: Microsoft! Microsoft .NET was the first environment with extensive support for building applications like this wealth clock.

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