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Bill's Diary

He meets senators, eats pizza, puts on tux, hobnobs with stars, visits a school, misses his daughter--and his e-mail

By Bill Gates

TIME magazine 03-16-98

(TIME, March 16) -- MONDAY Yesterday morning I left for Washington and spent most of the five-hour United flight to Dulles catching up on my E-mail backlog and reviewing my opening statement for the hearing. Watched a little of the latest James Bond movie on the flight. Somehow the new Bond movies are not as good as the ones I saw when I was young, or maybe it's me that is different.

Tuesday is going to be interesting. It'll be great finally to get a chance to tell Microsoft's story--unfiltered--to members of Congress. I believe we haven't done a good enough job getting our point across: that to deny Microsoft the freedom to continue to add features like Internet functionality to Windows is to deny us the right to compete and give customers new products.

Met Melinda (my wife) at the hotel. We walked up Pennsylvania Avenue so I could show her the boardinghouse I stayed in when I was a page in Congress. We walked up the steps of the Capitol. I showed her the flagpole where they run flags up and down all day so they can send flags to people all over the U.S. mentioning that they flew over the U.S. Capitol. We had a quick pizza for dinner. I went to bed early so I'll be fresh.

TUESDAY I stopped by Senator [Patty] Murray's office and had a doughnut before walking over to the hearing room. It was great to have Senators Murray and [Slade] Gorton take me in.

I was sitting on the right side of the speaker's table, and [Sun Microsystems'] Scott McNealy was next to me. Even though he doesn't like PCs and wants to put them out of business, he's a very charming guy. After the hearing was called to order, I was invited to speak. They have lights up there that time you in five-minute intervals. I went through my statement pretty much as I had written it.

I'd say the majority of questions were directed at me, although certainly McNealy and [Netscape's James] Barksdale were jumping in and telling their side of the story whenever they could. All the panelists except [FORTUNE columnist] Stewart Alsop said that no new legislation is needed and that regulation would be a very bad thing. In fact, McNealy was very hardcore on that point, which is great, because it is very consistent with his political beliefs. It was good to hear Netscape say those same things--that they don't think any regulation is required. People I talked to afterward thought it had gone very well.

Then I got on a plane and headed up to New York, where TIME was having its 75th-anniversary dinner.

WEDNESDAY When we got off the plane on Tuesday, there were two cars waiting. One was a white stretch limo. I got into the other car, since I think large cars are pretentious. Went to my hotel off Central Park, where I changed into my tuxedo. I don't wear a tux very often. Melinda helped me with the cuff links--they're so hard to get on.

The car TIME sent pulled past the entrance to Radio City so you have to walk down about 60 feet of red carpet. There was a huge bank of cameras like they have at the Oscars, and nearly as many movie stars.

Melinda and I got back to the hotel about midnight and considered calling Jennifer at home. She is almost two, and we can ask her exciting questions like, "What sound does a cow make?" I love the way she says "Moo." We decided it was too late.

This morning I went to Mott Hall, a school in Harlem, and met with sixth-graders who are using laptop computers. You have to see to believe how laptops have brought the classroom to life. I then went to the New York Public Library for a question-and-answer session with TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

This has been a very exciting week--intense, but exciting. I'm looking forward to getting home, seeing Jennifer and catching up on E-mail. I probably have 1,000 messages by now.

I had a burger and typed this before getting into the car to go to the airport. It's going to be nice to sleep in my own bed tonight.

Gates wrote his diary for Slate and TIME.

In TIME This Week

Cover Date: March 16, 1998

True Colors
A Primary Roll Call
"Primary Colors" A Tale Of Two Bills
All The Presidents' Movies
Will Betty Currie Stick To The Script?
The White House: Getting The Story Straight
The Nonsense Stops Here: Profile of Judge Johnson
Purloined Papers At The State Department?
Now It's Paula Jones' Turn
Hizzoner The Hall Monitor: Rudy Giuliani
Mr. Gates Goes To Washington
Bill Gates' Diary
Harassed Or Hazed?
The Notebook: Oh...That Clinton Personality

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