Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)

Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)

How Bill Gates paved the way for modern smart homes back in 1997.

By Shah Nair


What sounded like sheer wizardry about twenty years ago, was encapsulated in a 66,000-square-foot compound that is located on Lake Washington, outside of Seattle in Medina. “A decade from now, access to the millions of images and all the other entertainment opportunities I’ve described will be available in many homes and will certainly be more impressive than those I’ll have when I move into my house in late 1996. My house will just be getting some of the services a little sooner,” said Gates in his book, The Road Ahead (1995).

The Gates mansion took about seven years to complete, with about a hundred electricians called upon like just to complete the house’s extensive technological system, which is powered by dozens of computers, and approximately 84 kilometres of fibre-optic cables. According to architect Peter Bohlin, who designed the magnificent compound along with fellow architect James Cutler, “He wished the technology to be as invisible as possible. He and his wife wanted the spaces to be even more domestic. He intended to make it high-tech, but invisible.”

This is a world where less paper is consumed, teachers share their work and have a bigger reach with their students, where businesses hold meetings across the world without anyone ever needing to leave their homes, and most impressively, where someone’s house (and not the other way around) can recognise them and choose their favourite music as they enter.