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Monday, September 28, 1998 Published at 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK

Business: Your Money

The richest man in the world

Still the richest...

Bill Gates is still the richest man in America, with a personal fortune worth $58bn (£35bn).

His share in software giant Microsoft increased in value by $18bn this year - and by some $20bn the year before.

But his net worth dropped by $9bn since the stock market fall.

He tops the list in Forbes magazine's new survey of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the United States.

While Forbes does not measure the wealth of those outside the US, Bill Gates is also still believed to be the richest person in the world ahead of monarchs such as the Sultan of Brunei and other business tycoons.

Buffett second

In second place on Forbes' US list is the "sage of Omaha", investment banker Warren Buffett whose stake in his investment trust Berkshire Hathaway is worth $29bn - despite the fall in the stock market.

Third is Bill Gates's original partner, Paul Allen, worth $19.5bn, who now owns cable TV companies and the professional basketball team, the Portland Trailblazers.

The heirs of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart discount stores, make up five of the top 10 billionaires on the list.

Their total wealth at around $55bn would put the family level with Mr Gates.

Out of the 400 richest Americans, 10 are worth more than $10bn and 189 people have a net worth of more than $1bn. It takes $500m to be a member of the list.

Internet millionaires

[ image: Bookselling can make you rich...on the internet]
Bookselling can make you rich...on the internet
The astounding rise in the value of some internet stocks has created several multi-millionaires who have joined the list for the first time.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of the online bookseller,, is one of them; and so are David Filo and Jerry Yang, the founders of Yahoo!, the biggest search engine on the web.

Mr Bezos is now worth $1.6bn as the value of shares have soared.

But the founder of Netscape, James Clark, has lost his place as the market value of his company has gone down in line with the falling market share of Netscape's browser.

The richest computer millionaire after Bill Gates is Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, whose is worth $13bn at the age of 33, which is more than Bill Gates was worth at the same age.

His Dell computer company specialises in selling low cost PCs direct by mail-order.

Other big computer fortunes include those of Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, worth $8bn; Larry Elllison of Oracle, worth $6.5bn; Ted Waitt, of Gateway, worth $3.7bn; and Bill Hewlett, founder of Hewlett-Packard, worth $3.5bn.

Family fortunes

At the other end of the scale from the internet entrepreneurs are the family fortunes accumulated over several generations.

Among the famous plutocrats whose fortunes have been split among many heirs, are the duPonts, the Delaware chemical company heirs, worth $13bn; the Mellons, the Pittsburgh bank and oil magnates, worth $8bn, and Rockefeller family, also worth $8bn.

In a separate historical survey, American Heritage found that of the 40 richest Americans ever, adjusted for inflation, only three are alive today - and only Bill Gates would be in the top ten.

The list is dominated by the so-called "robber barons" of the 19th century, including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, JP Morgan and Andrew Carnegie.

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