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Bill Gates
Bill Gates on Bloomberg TV. (Via Bloomberg)

Bill Gates started his Microsoft work when he was 17 years old, and admits that during his earliest years at the tech giant he was “kind of maniacal” because he wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, didn’t believe in weekends and, until he was about 30, “didn’t believe in vacations at all.”

Gates is the first guest on a new Bloomberg series called “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations,” which features the financier and philanthropist Rubenstein as host of a program that “explores successful leadership through the personal and professional choices of the most influential people in business.”

Gates, who made Microsoft his primary focus until he was 53, tells Rubenstein that it was incredibly fulfilling to “write the code, be hands on, stay up all night.” It wasn’t until he got married, had kids and gained a broader knowledge and understanding of the world that he started to think about where his money should go and his focus shifted to philanthropy and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the half-hour interview, Gates and Rubenstein discuss a number of milestones in Gates’ career and life. Here are some highlights:

  • On dropping out of Harvard: “I’m a weird dropout because I take college courses all the time. I love learning company courses, so I loved being a student. There were smart people around and they fed you and they gave you these nice grades that made you feel smart. So, I feel it was unfortunate that I didn’t get to stay there but i don’t think I missed any knowledge because whatever I needed to learn I was still in a learning mode.”
  • On IBM’s agreement to pay Microsoft $430,000 to lease, not buy, the operating system DOS: “They didn’t see the value as being in the software. They thought that the hardware was the key and the software was just a sort of a necessary thing. So if they had realized the vision we had which was that software over time would be way more important than hardware, they would have negotiated probably a different deal.”
  • On being young and very rich: “I bought one thing that was a tiny bit of a splurge, which was that my first car that I owned was a Porsche 911. It was used, but it was an incredible car. That was when I was down in Albuquerque, and sometimes when I would want to think at night I’d just go out and drive around at high speed and fortunately I didn’t kill myself doing that.”
  • On meeting his wife Melinda: “She’s an amazing person and kind of caught me by surprise how much that engaged my attention even versus all of this exciting Microsoft stuff I was doing.”
  • On requiring Control-Alt-Delete on a keyboard at start-up on a computer: “Fortunately most machines nowadays have moved away from that. Clearly that ended up being an awkward piece of user interface. If we had to do it over again we wouldn’t do it. It’s sort of become this poster child of, ‘Hey, couldn’t you have made this stuff a little simpler?'”

“The David Rubenstein Show” airs Monday night on Bloomberg Television at 8 p.m. ET. Future episodes will include guests such as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein; PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi; American Express CEO Ken Chenault, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett; and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt

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