The year is 1995, when the world had just watched Shahrukh Khan and Kajol-starrer Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaenge for the first time and the internet is still a technology only a few had experienced. That year, Bill Gates who was famous for co-founding Microsoft, was trying to explain what the internet is to David Letterman. In this interview, Gates attempted to demystify the internet for the late-night host and his audience. It is interesting to see how the video has aged after all these years. 

David Letterman kicked things off with a straightforward question, asking Gates about the essence of Microsoft’s success. Gates, in his trademark humble yet nerdy style, credited a vision for what software could do—placing a computer on every desk and in every home. Simple enough, right? Not quite. Gates emphasized that realizing this vision took a small, dedicated group who saw the potential of increasingly powerful computer chips.

Then came the big question: “What about this internet thing? Do you know anything about that?” Letterman’s tone was dripping with skepticism, a reflection of the general sentiment of the time.

Gates patiently explained, “It’s become a place where people are publishing information. Everybody can have their own home page. You can send electronic mail to people.” This was the internet in its infancy, a wild and uncharted territory where people could, gasp, send emails and create personal web pages.

Letterman, still not entirely convinced, recounted hearing about an upcoming internet broadcast of a baseball game. His response? Classic Letterman: “Does radio ring a bell?” Gates, ever the patient teacher, pointed out the crucial difference—unlike radio, you could listen to the game whenever you wanted. The concept of on-demand content was revolutionary, even if it seemed like just a fancy tape recorder to Letterman.

Today, watching this exchange is both hilarious and nostalgic. Gates’ attempt to explain the internet to a skeptical audience reminds us how far we’ve come. From “Does radio ring a bell?” to streaming services, social media, and cloud computing, the internet has indeed reached “the full realisation of that vision.”
 

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