January 31st, 2016; Bill Gates featured on this week’s Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 and gave some insight into his relationship with the late Apple founder Steve Jobs.
Describing Jobs, who died in 2011, as an ‘incredible genius’, Gates, 60, said: ‘Steve was really into music. He loved the Beatles and so did I. And he actually mentioned this song when we were interviewed together. Only he and I understood how intense [it was] and what great memories came out of it.’
The presenter Kirsty Young introduces the Microsoft co-founder as ‘the richest man in the world’, and asks him about the competitive friendship that grew between the rival innovators.
Choosing a Willie Nelson track, Blue Skies, to remind him of the night before his wedding to Melinda in 1994, Gates tells Young how they met: ‘There was a Microsoft meeting in New York and I was the second to last to come and she was the last and she sat down next to me.’
She turned down his initial offers of a date, he says, although he was the world’s most eligible bachelor.
‘Neither of us started out thinking that it would turn into something. I was still being fanatical, but then we watched The Sound of Music together, which we both loved, and that’s when it turned serious.’
The track Can Love Survive? from the Broadway version of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical is another of Gates’s Desert Island choices. Its lyrics celebrate the fact that rich people can have a romantic love story too, despite having private planes and international business interests.
As a younger man in charge of Microsoft, Gates once memorised the car number plates of all his employees so he would know who was at work on any day. Marriage to Melinda has tempered this obsessive focus on work, Gates says.
‘She changed that and I wanted her to change that. Now we take quite a few vacations. I am sure myself in my 20s would look at my schedule now and find it very wimpy indeed.’
Selecting Steven Pinker’s lengthy work The Better Angels of Our Nature as his book for the island, the castaway says his only truly guilty pleasure in life is his ability to fly around the world in his own plane.