LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft founder and Chairman Bill Gates has been giving keynote speeches at Las Vegas conventions, including the Consumer Electronics Show and the now-defunct Comdex, for decades. Before his last CES keynote speech as a full-time company employee, he talked with IDG News Service Executive News Editor Marc Ferranti about his legacy as an innovator, the background behind some of the deals announced at CES this week and directions for Microsoft.
The following is an edited version of the interview (the video is also available to watch):
IDGNS: We've been tracking your career for some 30 years. One bone of contention has been when people have said that Bill Gates is a business mastermind, but not really an innovator. Can you point out a couple of innovative things you're particularly proud of?
Gates: In terms of what we're proud of, I think it's the personal computer that we're proud of. It was a crazy idea at the time, that we could take the microprocessor and create a software industry around it. There was no software industry. Computing was about big businesses, and what we did in 1975, with me dropping out of school, was to say that we could build an industry that was about empowering people. We could seek out partners to build the hardware. We'd let anyone write software for the work we did, and everything we've done, over these 30 years, has been about that vision of personal computing. We were first ones with that vision.
And now we're tackling the new frontiers. We're bringing TV, we're bringing new educational experiences, health experiences, onto this device that empowers people in a new rich way. And so it's pretty broad, the PC industry and our innovations in it -- I don't think there's anything in the last 30 years that has had as much impact.