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Interview With Bill Gates and Bill Gates Sr.

Aired June 2, 2010 - 21:00   ET



LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Bill Gates. The college dropout revolutionizing the way we communicate. And now the maverick has another ambitions goal. Transforming the planet.

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MICROSOFT: Now I've got the responsibility of giving it back.

KING: He's made billions and he's giving it away. And his father is here, too. With a question every parent may ask. Am I raising the next Bill Gates?

GATES: I fell into something that I -- I truly love. And, you know, I -- that's all you can really hope for your kids.

KING: Bill Gates junior and senior next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening. Another great week continues as we salute our 25th anniversary here at CNN.

Program note, President Barack Obama will be the guest tomorrow night. Lebron James on Friday night.

Tonight, we welcome Bill Gates and his father, Bill Gates Sr., to LARRY KING LIVE. Bill Gates is the chairman, of course, of Microsoft. And if you don't know who he is, you're on another planet. He is also cofounder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates Sr. is an attorney, a civil activist, and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Senior's book, "Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gift of a Lifetime," is now out on paperback. There you see its cover.

It's a great pleasure to welcome both to LARRY KING LIVE on a historic week for us.

Thank you for joining us on our 25th anniversary. Before we get to this terrific book, one question on the BP situation. I know that you're into the environment. What do you make of this? What can be done about it?

GATES: Well, in energy, you have to plan and do research way in advance, sometimes decades in advance to get a new system that's safer, doesn't require us to go around the world to get all our oil.

And here the right research wasn't done. So, you know, I hope we'll use this and other things to start investing a lot more in energy research so we're dependent on ourselves but in a safe and clean way.

KING: We're not good at planning?

GATES: Well, we were spending a lot more on energy research 15 years ago. And when the price of oil would go up, we'd get behind that but then it would go down and we'd -- wouldn't be paying attention.

And there's a lot of technology that should make us less dependent on foreign oil, able to make this type of drilling far less dangerous than it's been. And, you know, this is a tragic thing. But the key is what we do for the long run.

KING: And one other thing, and I'll ask the president about this tomorrow. I know you're not a scientist. But what do we do about the cleanup after? What about -- where's all this oil going to go?

GATES: There are better dispersants than in the past. But there's no changing the fact that it's awful. There will be destruction to wildlife, to fishing, to shrimp, things of that nature, and even the scientists who know it are disagreeing about what would cause the least damage.

So, you know, get it capped, minimize the damage, but then think long term.

KING: Are you going to be involved at all?

GATES: Well, certainly companies like Microsoft bring in their technology. They try and help model these things and look at it, but the specifics of what oil's like on the beach, you know, that's for the people who live in that world.

KING: Your foundation doesn't deal in this?

GATES: No. Here in the U.S., our big focus is education.

KING: Yes. OK. Let's go to this extraordinary book, "Showing Up for Life." This is the paperback version. How did this come about, Dad.

BILL GATES, SR., BILL GATES FATHER: Well, it started as a memoir. And I was anxious to have something recorded for future generations so they'd know a little something about what was going on in the Gates family at the time period when I was alive.

And as it went along, the people who were helping me with it insisted that we try to do something more and that they thought it was worth the more circulation, and I went along with that.

KING: Did you know what pop was doing? GATES: He was nice enough to send some drafts. I knew he was working very hard on it. And a lot of the old stories like going off to war, meeting my mom at college, some of those early friends and how things developed. You know I had kind of heard them and to see it all put together was fantastic.

KING: Are you surprised -- I'll call you pop or dad and you Bill, OK? So we don't keep saying Bill and Bill. Are you overall surprised at how he turned out?

GATES SR.: Is it conceivable I wouldn't have been? Yes.




KING: You wouldn't have bet on this?

GATES SR.: No. It's extraordinary.

KING: Why? Now his given name is William Gates III. He's known as "Trey." He's actually the fourth William H. Gates. There are two sisters. Right?

GATES SR.: Right.

KING: The mom, Mary, was Bill Gates Sr.'s first wife. She passed away and you remarried, right?

GATES SR.: That is correct.

KING: But your book, you write that you only recently discovered that when he was in junior high school, your son used to sneak out of the house at night and go to the University of Washington campus and work on computers.

Had you known it then, would you have been ticked?

GATES SR.: Yes, I think so. I think we would not have been accepting of the notion that he was getting up at night and going off for hours.

KING: How did you feel about learning it?

GATES SR.: Amused.

KING: Amused.

GATES SR.: Well, it's such a remarkable thing. Get up out of bed in the middle of the night and go off to a computer center.

KING: What did he talk about at dinner as a kid? I mean, was he -- you know, we often hear the term the nerd thing. Did you regard him that way? GATES SR.: Definitely not. No. We had good conversations. You know, we're -- Mrs. Gates and I were both active in things so there was plenty to talk about. And we didn't talk about technology particularly. And we talked about what was going on in the world and what was going on in the family.

KING: What did your father mean in your life?

GATES: Well, I think I was sort of lucky that my dad not only set a great example of hard work, but he was willing to talk about some of the things. You know, lawsuits that he was in, working with different people.

They had a lot of friends who were in politics, got involved in the campaigns. And so it helped me have a little bit more of a self confidence, understanding, so that then when I was 18, I said, OK, I'm going to drop out and start a business, it didn't feel as strange as if I hadn't had those great exposures to other people doing businesses and different challenges.

So I -- you know, I was lucky to grow up where I did.

KING: Does that affect the way you will raise your children?

GATES: Absolutely. My wife also had a fantastic upbringing. You know, the kids -- we got books in my house. We'll make sure our kids get as many as they want. My dad actually restricted how much TV we could watch. Didn't want us sitting there the whole time. So we do that with our kids now. And -- no, I'd be glad to do as well as my dad did.

KING: The book is "Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gift of a Lifetime." How old was Bill the first time he put his hands on a computer? Stay with us.



GATES: The PC industry has come a long ways.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The software giant based in Redmond, Washington and led by a multi-billionaire Bill Gates.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, arguably one of the most powerful, certainly the most wealthy executive in the country.

GATES: These should be things that are very, very compelling.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Computer software that sells so many copies, Microsoft has a market value greater than General Motors.

GATES: It's not just the most successful software product of all times. People should be so lucky that other products had improved so rapidly that we can harness the power of the PC to improve people's lives.


KING: We are back with Bill Gates and his father, Bill Gates Sr. The book is "Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime" during this our 25th anniversary week.

We have a Twitter question. We know you twitter. We Twitter but this is a Twitter question for you. It's for Bill Sr.

What's the worst thing Bill Jr. ever did growing up that you knew about?

GATES SR.: The worst thing he ever did growing up that I knew about? Well, maybe it was he got in a little trouble using the computers at the University of Washington. I don't know if it was these nighttime trips or other trips, and so they reacted to that and --

KING: Let you know?

GATES SR.: Yes. Well, no, actually they let him know. And so there was some -- remedial steps that had to be taken.

KING: Did you have any fascination with computers?

GATES SR.: No. Actually, I did not, Larry.

KING: So where do you think it came from, Bill?

GATES: Well, I think if you're given an environment where you get to read, you have good math and science teachers, you are going to latch on to things. And my timing was very lucky.

Computers weren't easy to get at, but I was so fascinated by them, including going around to various departments at this nearby university that I found some. They were very expensive but at night they were often free and my friend, Paul Allen, who cofounded Microsoft with me, we'd go up there and we'd play around.

So we were learning about computers when no one else was. And so the idea of having a vision that it would become this personal computer, we had that way before others and we pursued it.

KING: Do you remember the first computer you ever fooled with?

GATES: Yes. At the high school I was at, the mother's club raised money so we could have a device that over a phone line connected to an expensive computer. And at first the idea the teachers would use it. But then they got scared of it, they made a few mistakes and so they kind of let the best math students take over.

And, you know, then I was -- you could almost say addicted from that point on. I was 13 at the time.

KING: Was the first one an M1? What was the name of that? GATES: Yes. It was a Mark 1 computer.

KING: How do you like it, I knew that?

GATES: It was gigantic. And so what we had at the school was just a -- like a terrible typewriter, upper case letter only, very slow. But it would connect over a phone line because we couldn't have a computer ourselves so we shared it with all the other users.

KING: Dad, did you get the computer stuff -- do you get what your son has done? Are you comfortable with the technology? Do you use it?

GATES SR.: Eighty percent level, yes, I do use it. But the comfort level is not 100 percent.

KING: Are you fascinated by it?

GATES SR.: Absolutely.


KING: From the era you come from, how you do explain it? You could never have predicted this, right?

GATES SR.: No. Of course not.


KING: So how you react to all that's happened?

GATES SR.: Well --

KING: The whole world of it, not just your son.

GATES SR.: At first -- OK. I was going to say the first word that comes up is pride.

KING: good word.

GATES SR.: I take a lot of pride in my son's participation in this really remarkable thing that's happening --that's happened. Well, happening.

KING: Speaking of computers and technology, your reaction to -- by the way, just aside -- to Apple's amazing run in success? Is there jealousy involved or --

GATES: No. Apple got started about three years after Microsoft, and they've had some huge ups and downs. You know I wrote a basic for the very first Apple II computer. Microsoft wrote more applications for the Macintosh than any other company.

And so we both compete -- Windows versus Mac -- and we've done applications for them. So it's great to see -- you know, technology companies are very successful. There's room for lots to be successful.

And we'll compete and that -- that's a great, great thing. So they've done well. You know there was a period where it looked like they wouldn't even survive. So the ups and downs of technology are incredible.

KING: Do you like Steve Jobs?

GATES: Absolutely. Steve's brilliant, done very good work. The times we have gotten to work together, intensely on some Apple II work and then Macintosh, we enjoyed sparring with each other. You know we're -- we have different strengths but, you know, we both love the industry.

KING: Is this a case because of the industry where advances help other advances?


KING: Is there any kind of joint thing?

GATES: Well, yes. We -- when one company does well that can kind of spur the other on. You know we're the two companies that really got this graphics interface to be mainstream which was a very big deal.

And, you know, we both had a vision that it needs be low cost, very easy to use. So, you know, it's been a revolution. He's a little bit older than I am, but about the same age.

KING: Does your son still continue to amaze you?

GATES SR.: Yes, he does. Yes, he does. He has more curiosity and a better memory. Both of those characteristics than anybody else I know.

KING: And we'll be back with more. The book is "Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gift of a Lifetime." We'll talk about Bill's relationship with Warren Buffett and other things, too. Stay with us.


KING: How much do you know about LARRY KING LIVE? Test your knowledge by taking the LARRY KING LIVE edition of the CNN challenge. Just go to and take the quiz.

Our guests are Bill Gates and his father, Bill Gates Sr., the book, as we said is "Showing Up for Life."

Son, your dad writes in this book that when you started Microsoft you instituted a tradition called Think Week, a time you spent most of the time alone thinking.

Do you still have Think Weeks? You do ever unplug? You ever go off the grid? GATES: Yes, Think Week allowed me to see what the latest research was. When I was young, that was all about my Microsoft strategy and who is doing good work. Now my full time focus is the foundation.

So I take time to go off and read the latest on the diseases, the progress being made with the different scientists think might happen. And I'm pretty much off e-mail for a whole week just reading night and day. And --

KING: How do you handle it?

GATES: It's fine. You know, if there's something urgent, somebody, you know, would pick up the phone and call me. But I don't get interrupted much. And that's partly why I think it's very helpful.

You know I recommend it. It's fun to have that intense learning period.

KING: Many wonderful things in your dad's book are about your late mom. You write about her with great affection, her name, Mary, of course. He writes about the part she played in the start of your friendship with Warren Buffett. How?

GATES: Well, my mom and my dad were both very sociable, meeting lots of interesting people. And as I got working hard at Microsoft, mom sometimes would say, hey, you ought to come to this event or that event.

And I was always like, mom, I am fanatically focused on software, my job, and these other things are not important. And so when she had an event where both Kathryn Graham and Warren Buffett were going to come, she says now this time you should come.

And I was still kind of reluctant, a lot of work to be done. She said no, at least come and spend a few hours with them. So I agreed. You know I got -- I made a special trip out, and when I met them, particularly Warren, I found a kindred spirit.

You know I ended up staying the whole day, late into the night. Because he asked such good questions and he had a model of the world. So it wasn't just a guy who traded stocks and happened to make money, he was somebody who was really thinking about why some companies have done well, why some haven't.

And that started a conversation that --

KING: Still goes on?

GATES: Yes. And has, you know, been one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. I learned so much from the way he thinks about things.

KING: What do you think of Warren Buffett?

GATES SR.: I share my son's enthusiasm completely and their friendship was really a wonderful thing to behold.

KING: Did your wife tell you about him, too?

GATES SR.: Well, we knew about him and we were -- we shared in the effort to get Bill to come and spend some time with him that particular day.

KING: When you think of Gates and you think of Buffet, you think of money. Was that a driving force to you in raising him, the making of money?

GATES SR.: Well, I would say nothing out of the ordinary. I guess I did have a drive to be well-to-do and comfortable and thinking in terms of retirement, that sort of thing.

KING: You weren't thinking billions?

GATES SR.: No. No. No, no, no.

KING: But you were driven by that?

GATES SR.: I practiced law and I was -- I wanted to make the kind of money an ordinary lawyer made.

KING: Country gentleman.


GATES SR.: There you go.

KING: Were you driven by money?

GATES: Well, I felt privileged that my dad agreed to pay for college. And so, you know, I got it go to Harvard and I was able to pursue my studies. That's about as big a gift as you can have.

KING: You couldn't buy that.

GATES: And, you know, once I got there I knew all sorts of different careers could be interesting. In fact, going into software at the time, it wasn't like it was obvious you'd make money on it, it's what I loved doing.

And I saw that it really could be so different. And, you know, I was fanatical. I -- day and night, I thought how could we do better software. And then when I got to hire friends in to come work with us.

And all the early computers -- Commodore, Pat, Apple -- you know, do the software and keep making it better, it was a lot of fun. And it was kind of stunning after we were a decade into it, just keeping enough money to hire people, we realized, wow, this is going to be quite a valuable business someday.

KING: The money was the byproduct?

GATES: Absolutely the byproduct.

KING: Of the love. Yes.

GATES: We did not think that we were into something that we'd make a ton of money. It was -- as we got into it -- then, you know, that became a responsibility and now I've got the responsibility of giving it back.

KING: Fathers and sons don't always agree on everything. What do Bill and Bill not see eye-to-eye on? Stay with us.



GATES: Your wealth should go to the place in the world where people have the toughest situation and try to give them some of the same opportunity that I have. Every issue can be improved if we start with health.

MELINDA GATES, BILL GATES' WIFE: It's up to us and others around the world to bring them these medical life saving advances.

GATES: The opportunities that are out there are not as equal as they should be. Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.

BONO, U2: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been, you know, searching vaccines and really getting into the detailed work of how to achieve this.

GATES: When you put $1 billion into vaccines, you save a half million lives.


KING: We're back with the Gates. The book is "Showing Up for Life." We mentioned Warren Buffett who testified today in New York.

You have any thoughts on this recession?

GATES: Well, fortunately, the economy seems to be coming back. That's very important. You know there's uncertainty about Europe and government deficits. And, you know, I'm glad Warren is sharing his input on that.

You know there are some long term challenges -- medical costs, budget deficits. But the economy is starting to come back and hopefully hiring will come with that over the next year or two.

KING: The -- we have a Facebook question. You know about that, yes? The question was posted on the LARRY KING LIVE Facebook page: "In a world that seems so materialistic, how do you get your kids to pursue their dreams and passions, not just money?"

GATES: Well, the --

KING: He did it with you.

GATES: Yes. You know, I -- I got to go to good schools and I fell into something that I -- I truly loved. And, you know, I -- that's all you can really hope for your kids. You make sure they get exposed to whether they want to do science or writing, be a doctor, different things. And, you know, I love going -- seeing the kids grow up and getting to take them to different places. We've gotten to take them to Africa and see some of the foundation work and go to lots of science and museum type things.

So, yes, I hope -- I hope one of those things becomes a life long interest.

KING: What do you think of Facebook?

GATES: Well, Facebook, I've -- I've got a -- a fan page up there. And, you know, I'm using the Twitter stuff all of the time. And it's actually -- both of those are letting me stay in touch with people here, you know, what do they think the foundation should be doing, expose some of the work of the foundation. When I take trips, I put up photos and I narrate what I saw and what surprised me.

And so it's really created a -- a wonderful way for me to stay in touch on this foundation work.

KING: What do you think of Facebook and Twitter and all of these modern ideas?

GATES SR.: I'm really embarrassed because I've -- I'm just not into that, you know?

I get a lot of people posting notes to me on my -- on my e-mail and I ignore all that. But I don't -- I really don't understand it, Larry, to be quite honest with you.

KING: Are there down sides to it?

GATES: Oh, absolutely. I mean my dad's a big e-mail user and that's -- you know, we're organizing family activities and sharing things. You know, when I'm on a fun trip, I can send e-mail. We're not all -- you know, all super heavy into Facebook. And, you know, on Facebook the boundaries of what should be private, what do you share with other people --


GATES: -- and I certainly look at my kids' Facebook accounts. They're young enough that that's still appropriate. No one knows if your parents will be allowed to be your friend or not. And, you know, we're finding our way. You know, none of these new technologies come without some real issues that have to be thought through -- you know, how many hours do you want to let your kid use it?

Is -- you know, are they just playing the games?

What's that like? And, you know, we -- we go through some of that as -- as parents, as well.

KING: We have a Twitter question posted to Kingsthings.

What's your Twitter moniker?

GATES: I'm the Bill Gates -- BGates at -- on Twitter. And the activity level is really quite incredible. When I say I'm going on a trip, people ask different things.

KING: It's crazy, isn't it?

I'm kidding.

Another question Tweeted to KingsThings -- "What's been the tensest moment between Bill, Junior and Senior?

What do you disagree more about?

Do you want to start?

GATES SR.: Well, this was not a tense moment, but I do recall a series of fairly intense discussions about how long the foundation should last. It is a -- a common discussion in foundation life.

KING: And you stand where?

GATES SR.: Well, I'm a perpetuity guy. I look around at some examples of perpetual foundations and I -- I think it's a positive thing.

KING: You don't?

GATES: No, I think the foundation would -- should probably wrap up not long after the last of my wife Belinda or I aren't around to help guide it. You know, the question is will the rich people who come along later be able to pick causes that are important at that time.

Certainly, I agree with my dad, the Rockefeller foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, these -- these organizations continue to do phenomenal work. In fact, we -- we partner with a lot of them.

But, you know, they could have spent more money early. So the -- I think you'll see people do it both ways. But our -- ours, probably, we won't -- and the way it's written right now, it won't last forever.

KING: We're going to have you both read from the book, but I want to get to something you advocate in the book, which is the continuation of the estate tax or the death tax, as some opponents call it.

You support a Washington State ballot initiative that would require the state's highest earners to pay an income tax. Your tax the wealthy point of view is based on fairness? GATES SR.: Yes. Yes. I -- I -- I think that the -- the well- to-do should pay to the support of our government at least in proportion, if not in higher proportion, than do the poor. We don't have very many, actually, what I would call progressive taxes. The national system comes the closest to being that way. Almost no state system is progressive. In fact, it's a --


GATES SR.: -- it's a struggle to have the well-to-do paying the same proportion into the tax pot, as do the poor.

KING: Do you agree?

GATES: Yes, I -- I've paid over six billion in taxes. And, you know, I don't begrudge that at all. I think taxes being more progressive will be more important as things like medical costs are making it tough to balance things. The estate tax is only on large estates. And a lot of that wealth wasn't taxed at all because it was ownership of a -- of a business. And, you know, we -- we have tough budget problems. I do think that revenue source is probably the least distortive and it's not gigantic, but it's an important one.

So, you know, striking this balance that you encourage innovation, you encourage risk-taking, you don't make that too difficult, and yet you -- you tax someone when things go well. You know, the U.S. is trying to find that balance better than any country. And, you know, so the estate tax, I think, should be part of it.

KING: You've paid billions in taxes.

GATES: Over six billion.

KING: I'd like to be in that position. What is communication going to be like in ten years? What will have then that we don't have now? And we'll have them read from this extraordinary book. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. Before the Gates read from this book, what are we going to have in ten years we don't have now? Give me -- just throw it out.

GATES: The big thing is the computer is going to be able to talk and listen and see. When you walk up to your TV set, it will say, hey, Larry, here are the shows that you usually like to watch. It will know if it's you or somebody else coming in.

KING: It will know. That's scary.

GATES: You can make gestures. You can talk to it. In fact, there's a video game on the X-Box coming out this fall, the games, you just move around and it watches while you're doing it.

KING: What are we going to lose? GATES: Well, we're going have to define what we want private and what we don't more explicitly. People have to think about when they want to be out of touch, versus when they want to be in touch, because the technology will make it easy for that to come together. In the biological realm, things like genetic modification, there will be some choices there about how that science gets used.

So there will be plenty of dilemmas. But mostly, we'll be taking the poorest people and feeding them better, giving them the type of life expectancy that we take for granted.

KING: The type writer is never coming back?

GATES: No. You better sell it soon. Only the museum will want it.

KING: Cell phone going get better?

GATES: The cell phone is going to be pretty mind blowing. You see it, whether it's videos now, voice type interface, the maps, telling you what's nearby. That's intense competition.

KING: We are going to walk in a room and a machine's going to say, hello, Larry.

GATES: Absolutely.

KING: OK. We will get excerpts from the book. Who wants to start and lead us up to what we're dealing with.

GATES SR.: I will be happy to start. The part I am going to read has to do with the toast that my wife, Mary, gave to Bill's now wife Melinda, on the occasion of their marriage. She took from the oath that they say in the course of the marriage ceremony. The part that I'm going to read about is to love and to cherish.

"Celebrate his good points and remember, you don't have to love everything about him. If you see some things about him that you simply have to improve upon, like things his mother did not get just right, recognize reforming a husband is a long term project. And it doesn't always work out. Sometimes it's better to reform one's own expectations."

KING: Must have been quite a lady.


KING: Bill?

GATES: Later, under the for richer or for poorer piece, she wrote, "there have been but few couples for whom this phrase has had such special meaning. Everyday will test the need for a sense of humility about your circumstances. Your lifetime together will, in the end, be a verdict on your recognition of the extraordinary obligations which accompany extraordinary resources."

KING: You must miss her.

GATES: Very much.

KING: How do you get along with his new wife?

GATES: She's fantastic. She's got a lot of energy. Does different things, ran the Seattle Art Museum. She keeps us -- she travels the world and it's wonderful. It's amazing to -- that dad found somebody for this period of his life.

KING: Were you sad when he dropped out of Harvard?

GATES SR.: We were concerned. You know, the first time, he just was taking a holiday from Harvard, so we didn't develop the same level of apprehension. The second time around, we were apprehensive. We were old-fashioned people. And our assumption was we had kids who would go to and graduate from college. Interrupting that expectation did hurt a bit.

KING: Are you optimistic?

GATES: Absolutely.

KING: Despite all you see around you?

GATES: There's a lot of problems. The ability to make the long term trade-offs, you know, sometimes, whether it's education or health costs or helping these poor country, there are things that can discourage you. But the trend line the last 100 years of what we've achieved because of innovation and having a great system -- the U.S. has done by far the best at that. If you have perspective, you realize there's a lot of things that have gone well. Science and the U.S. system will continue to deliver.

Yes. I'm naturally quite optimistic.

KING: Worry about China?

GATES: Well, China is a very positive thing. As the people there get richer, they're inventing new medicines. They're buying products from the U.S. If they can continue to do that in a way that they're stable, they become more democratic, they will shoulder some of the important things that need to get done. So, yes, having a good relationship with that, making sure that develops -- there are some things to worry about there.

KING: We have just a few moments left with this extraordinary family. We'll get a financial forecast after this.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Bill Gates and his father, Bill Gates Sr. The book is "Showing Up For Life, Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime," now out in paperback. Financially, concerned? GATES: The economy is coming back. There's still enough concern that it wouldn't take much to get people worried again. When people get fearful, they pull back; they don't invest as much. so I think we won't have this double dip. But some of that European turmoil threatened to push us back there. The economy is resilient. But it takes time to create the jobs.

KING: What do you make of the newest thing, the iPad?

GATES: Well, eventually, we want a device where we can browse and read and edit documents. Nobody's got that yet. The Windows PC keeps getting smaller and better. There's specialized reading devices like Kindle, now the iPad. We all are trying to get to something that you just love to take to a meeting and use. It's not --

KING: Not there yet?

GATES: No, not quite. You need to have input. You need to take notes and edit and things. Microsoft and a bunch of other companies are working on getting that final ultimate product.

KING: Do you like the iPad?

GATES: Oh, I think -- I'm biased, so --

KING: You don't like it.

GATES: Not the best person to ask. There's things that it still isn't -- it still isn't the device I would take to a meeting, because it just has no input.

KING: What are you looking for? The perfect thing?

GATES: Well, yes, where I can use the pen, where I can use voice. There are solutions. And in the labs, they're starting to look very good.

KING: Does he still continue amaze you?

GATES SR.: Yes, he does, as a matter of fact, Larry. He has wonderful native skills, which are in evidence all the time and amazing. It's such a pleasure to watch him be the person he is.

KING: Why did you name it Microsoft?

GATES: It was the micro-computer. We were the very first company doing it. We were going to write software for it. Actually, for a few years, we had a dash, Micro-Soft, but then we got rid of it.

KING: It was first Micro-Soft?

GATES: Yes, for a little while. That was kind of goofy looking, so we dropped it.

KING: It's extraordinary knowing you and extraordinary meeting you. GATES SR.: Thank you.

KING: Congratulations on a wonderful book and a wonderful life.

GATES SR.: Thank you.

KING: The guests have been Bill Gates and his father, Bill Gates Sr. The book "Showing Up For Life, Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime," now in paperback.

We are continuing our top 25 LARRY KING LIVE moments countdown. Tonight, we bring you number three. It was an event that shocked the world, and is still in the news a year after it occurred. You picked the death of Michael Jackson in June of 2009 as our top three moment. Watch.


KING: That ranks with the shock of Presley. Young people dying don't make sense. Icons don't die. They can die in their 80s. Not that young.


KING: The tapes of the rehearsal, I mean, he looks so alive and with it. We've learned a lot about what a nice person he was, how kind he was to people.

This is one small part of this whole picture.

JERMAINE JACKSON, BROTHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Yes. We're mourning because this is the most incredible human being there will ever be.

KING: I had no idea what it was like, how gorgeous it is, beautiful rolling hills. Jermaine is interesting of the Jackson brothers. He's the most outward. They end to be shy and inward. Jermaine is not inward.

J. JACKSON: I saw him laying in the room. He was lifeless, breathless. Why did you go? Why did you leave? I wish it was me there instead of him.

KING: I was very sad. Then I went to the memorial service. That was an incredible day. The coffin was right there in front of us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine.

KING: It was special. It was a tribute.


KING: Coming up, we will preview our amazing interview with Lebron James. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: On Friday night, we're going to be talking to NBA superstar Lebron James. You have been reading a lot about little excerpts of it already. But we sat down for a full hour with him at his home outside of Akron, Ohio, where we talked about family and fame and fortune and, of course, basketball. Will he or won't he play for the Cleveland Cavaliers next year? It's a question on his mind and everybody else's. Watch.


KING: Do you lean at all towards the place you know the best? I mean, do they have an edge going in?

LEBRON JAMES, NBA BASKETBALL PLAYER: Absolutely. Absolutely, because this city, these fans has given me a lot in these seven years. For me, it's comfortable. I have a lot of memories here. So it does have an edge. But it's a -- it will be a very interesting summer. I'm looking forward to it.

KING: You can't wait to hear? Do you wish it was July 1st?

JAMES: I wish it was July 1st.

KING: There's a story circulating. I don't know if it's true, so I wrote it down just to make sure. You are going to get together, you, with Bosch and Wade and Stottlemeyer and Lee and Johnson and Allen and Newitzky (ph). And all of you sort of -- is this funny?

JAMES: We're going to be like a little committee, a little free agent committee.

KING: A free agent committee. No one can stop you. You're all free agents. The league can't tell you not to do this. What if you go there and I go here and we go here. Is that possible?

JAMES: I don't know to that extent. It will be fun. It would be fun to get all the free agents together to figure out a way to make the league better.

KING: How do you do that?

JAMES: If we could, we -- if it was like baseball, we would all go to the same team.

KING: You can't do that.

JAMES: No, we can't do that.

KING: There are caps. But you can get together and discuss for the better of the league, if I went here and you play there?

JAMES: Oh, I mean, there's certain situations where you may be able to pair with a group one or two guys and better that franchise, and guys better these franchises. But I think this is the most sought out summer in basketball history because of all the free agents.

KING: Are you the ringleader of the group?

JAMES: Am the ringleader.


KING: See our entire interview with Lebron James. He's here for the hour this Friday night. President Obama tomorrow night. Now, "AC 360."