How the Internet Changed the World | by Christian Soschner | June 2022

Insights from a conversation between Bill Gates and David Letterman in 1995

Thumbnail of a Youtube video in the public domain

Do you remember the days before the internet?

Most people who use apps like Youtube or TikTok were probably born in a world where the internet existed.

Whereas people my age… well…

The Internet was born in 1993 when the CERN Institute released the WWW protocol to the public domain.

This week I found a video in which Bill Gates explains to David Letterman the benefits the internet brings to the world.

Anyone who wants to understand how to commercialize technology must watch this video.

Here is an overview:

I’m pretty sure everyone knows Bill Gates. He founded Microsoft in 1975 and developed the operating systems and MS Office as its first products.

Microsoft took off by combining its operating system with the famous IBM computers. As they were grouped together, each customer bought one. The clause in the contract benefited Microsoft as it allowed the company to sell the operating system together with other brands of hardware.

In 1995, Bill Gates was a guest on the David Letterman Show. David Letterman in the 90s was what Gary Vaynerchuk is today – one of the greatest artists of his time. Just on TV instead of social media.

Twenty years after the founding of Microsoft, Bill Gates tried to explain the Internet to David Letterman.

“Wait a minute. Some readers might wonder what Steve Jobs has to do with Bill Gates.”

Steve Jobs, in another interviewsaid:

“What amazing benefits can we offer customers? »

Instead of sitting down with the engineers to figure out the company’s awesome technology and then trying to bring it to market, he recommends starting the development process with the benefits of the customers.

Or in other words:

Start with the customer experience

The big question is always:

How is it made?

Bill Gates demonstrates this in the interview. Instead of pointing out how great the internet is from a technological standpoint and how it connects computers and devices, it starts discussing use cases.

He takes all the insights he gets from the potential customer – in this case, David Letterman – and describes how the internet can improve his experience.

David Letterman starts the conversation by describing that he read this on the internet, he could be listening to a baseball game – live.

Bill Gates agrees that this is one of many use cases. The funny thing is that David Letterman insists that this is nothing new since Radio does similar work.

Even when Bill Gates adds a point in addition to the conversation, that he can listen to the baseball game at any time, David Letterman states:

Do tape recorders mean anything to you?

Bill Gates remains calm and continues to listen and explain in a friendly and entertaining manner.

The reality in 2022:

Almost everything is distributed via the Internet. Think YouTube or TikTok.

“What am I forgetting here?” asks David Letterman.

Bill Gates states the obvious – it’s a great source of information since anyone can post anything on his website.

Also, here David plays the smartie pants viz:

“I subscribe to two magazines that cover my interests.”

As if you were wrong, mate. Wouldn’t it be tempting to step in and argue against what David is saying? Let me explain in detail.

But instead, Bill Gates adds another point and shifts the discussion to another potential benefit.

The reality in 2022:

All news agencies that do not use the Internet have gone bankrupt.

“You can connect with other people through the internet who share your unusual interest.”

He makes a joke. And David continues:

” What do you mean ? The chat room for troubled loners? »

It was the perception in the 80s and 90s that only socially awkward people used computers and potentially chat rooms.

The reality in 2022:

Everyone uses social media.

Since all problems already have a solution, the Internet might not be necessary and will fail.

Many people thought so in 1995. And in 2022?

Does that tell you something? Blockchain technology?

The great character trait that Bill Gates demonstrates is pure salesmanship. Instead of trying to win an argument about why the internet is great and how little David Letterman knows, he starts relying on David Letterman’s experience.

He describes, explains and jokes a lot with David Letterman.

Some might say, but who would start a fight with a potential client? Watch sales meet next time, especially when techs are trying to win in a tech conversation.


Sales are not just for sellers. Everyone sells a company’s brand when they work for the company. Marketing – a precursor to sales that feeds the sales funnel – is the duty of every employee. That is why everyone should strive to understand how to do it.

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