Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On Being Rich

Roger and I were thinking the other day how wonderful it would have been to buy Microsoft stock when the company had its IPO.  Neither of us could remember when that was, of course, only that it was sometime in the 80s.  We were in full "time machine" mode that day...you know..."If I could go back in time knowing what I know now,  I would..."

I remembered that conversation today and looked it up.  It was fascinating.  I certainly have absolutely no recollection at all of hearing about Microsoft back in 1986....I had more pressing concerns then: new mother, significant job, new home, and so on...

When playing the time machine game, many people say they'd buy stock in companies that grow to be huge: internet companies, cable companies, cellphone makers, etc.   No-brainers.

Anyway, Microsoft had its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on March 14, 1986.  The stock opened at $21/share.  Apparently, 3.58 million shares were traded that day and the stock ended at $29.  In other words, it was a totally auspicious beginning for this behemoth of a company.  Its founders became millionaires that day, but apparently neither was around gloating about it, nor giving interviews.

Of course, if time travel did work, and we went back to '86 and had the means to buy a considerable number of shares in Microsoft, things would be different now, I can tell you.  It might be nice to find out just how different the rich are...from you and me.

Puts me in mind of an old (old) TV show from the 1950s that I used to see in reruns in the 1960s....In glorious black and white, "The Millionaire" came on every week and I was a devoted fan.  It was a 30-minute drama featuring a philanthropist (apparently of limitless means) whose face is never seen on screen.  He has a faithful assistant who delivers a tax-free $1 million check to an unsuspecting person each week.  The assistant tells the lucky recipient that it is from an anonymous donor and that he may do whatever he wishes with the money and never reveal where the money came from.  Before the money is delivered, though, we have been treated to a few minutes of the recipient-to-be's life and later we see how the money has changed that life.  Even at the very young age that I was watching "The Millionaire," I knew that it made for good TV.  Would have been even better had the story been true...

Until next time.

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