Say what? A look back at Gates' pearls of wisdom

The list of "Gates-isms" is legendary within the tech industry. Here's a sampling of his quips.

Bill Gates is the richest and arguably most powerful man in the tech sector. Historically reserved with regard to his private life, he has--over the last few decades--said a lot about business, global health and the evolution of the computer industry. Here are some of the more memorable quotes from Microsoft's co-founder and tech titan:

• "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today." (Challenges and Strategy, May 16, 1991)

• "If something's expensive to develop, and somebody's not going to get paid, it won't get developed. So you decide: Do you want software to be written, or not?" (Interview with Dennis Bathory-Kitsz in 80 Microcomputing, 1980)

• "IBM to this day is the biggest company in the computer industry. People misunderstand that. We managed our relationship with IBM because we managed to surprise them again and again with how quickly we were able to do new things." (U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 20, 2001) Poll

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• (Asked if Microsoft is headed toward being a post-Windows company) "No. Windows is our most important product. We're broadening the platform out so that pieces of it can run on the Internet itself and pieces can run on different devices. The magical platform now is .Net. But the actual piece of it that runs on the PC client, where you can run offline, you can do reading and speech recognition and handwriting recognition, that's the pillar on which everything rests." (U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 20, 2001)

• "Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software," he said. "Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade." (On software piracy in China, July 1998)

• "Microsoft has had clear competitors in the past. It's a good thing we have museums to document that." (At the Computer History Museum, Oct. 2004)

• "When we have the information highway, I'll put it out there. Everybody who wants to pay, I don't know, one cent, can see what movies I'm watching and what books I'm reading and certain other information. If I'm still interesting, I'll rack up dollars as people access that part of the highway." (Playboy, 1994)

• "At Microsoft, there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top--I'm afraid that's not quite right, but fortunately, there are plenty that are coming." (BBC, Dec. 2001)

• "The best way to prepare (to be a programmer) is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and fished out listings of their operating system." (Programmers at Work by Susan Lammers, 1986)

• "Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick." (The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2003)

• "We've done some good work, but all of these products become obsolete so fast....It will be some finite number of years, and I don't know the number--before our doom comes." (Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time, Daniel Gross, 1997)

• "It really is a failure of capitalism. You know capitalism is this wonderful thing that motivates people, it causes wonderful inventions to be done. But in this area of diseases of the world at large, it's really let us down." (Interview with Bill Moyers, May 9, 2003)

• "I think it's fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we've ever created. They're tools of communication, they're tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user." (In a speech at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Feb. 24, 2004)

• "Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don't think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other." (Business @ the Speed of Thought)

• "I wish I wasn't (the world's richest man)... There's nothing good that comes out of that. You get more visibility as a result of it." (Speaking at online advertising conference in Redmond, Wash., May 5, 2006)

• "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." (The Road Ahead)

• "There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed." (Focus Magazine, Oct. 23, 1995)

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