William von Meister

William F. von Meister (February 21, 1942[1] – May 18, 1995) was an American entrepreneur who founded and participated in a number of startup ventures in the Washington, D.C., area. These included The Source, an early online service and CompuServe competitor, and Control Video Corporation, a predecessor company to AOL.

William von Meister
A picture of William in 1989
Born(1942-02-21)February 21, 1942
New York City, United States
DiedMay 18, 1995(1995-05-18) (aged 53)
Great Falls, Virginia, United States
  • Frederick von Meister
FatherF.W. von Meister
MotherEleanora Colloredo-Mannsfeld

Early yearsEdit

William Ferdinand von Meister was of German Noble descent[2] and born on February 21, 1942 in New York City to F. W. von Meister and Eleanora Colloredo-Mannsfeld.[3] His father, F. W. von Meister, was the godson of Kaiser Wilhelm II, his mother a countess. In the 1930s, F. W. von Meister was the United States representative of the Zeppelin Company (Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH) that built the Hindenburg.[4][5]

William von Meister attended high school at Middlesex Academy in Massachusetts, and a finishing school in Switzerland. He then attended Georgetown University. Though he never completed his undergraduate education, he persuaded nearby American University to enroll him in its master's program for business.[4]

Personal life and deathEdit

Von Meister has at least one brother, Peter.[4] Bill von Meister died of cancer in Great Falls, Virginia, at the age of 53,[6] leaving behind his son, Fredrick William von Meister. Frederick later passed away in 2004 leaving behind a son Maximilian.


As Head of the House of Meister, and therefore a Prussian Lord, he held the style of Sir.[2]

Further readingEdit

  • Michael A. Banks (2008), On the Way to the Web: The Secret History of the Internet and Its Founders. Apress. ISBN 1-4302-0869-4.
  • Lazy Game Reviews (February 3, 2017), LGR Tech Tales - Quantum Link: AOL Origins, retrieved 2017-02-24


  1. ^ Klein, Alec (2004) [2003]. "Page 9". Stealing Time: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse of AOL Time Warner. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-5984-X.
  2. ^ a b Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels (in German).
  3. ^ "William von Meister (1942-1995)". Luyken Family Association. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Swisher, Kara (1998). "Two: Billy's Beginnings". AOL.COM (How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads, and Made Millions in the War for the Web. ISBN 0-8129-2896-2.
  5. ^ Duggan, John; Meyer, Henry Cord (2001). Airships in international affairs 1890-1940. Springer. p. xviii. ISBN 9781403920096.
  6. ^ Esther Smith (1995-05-25). "Obituary: Bill von Meister". Washington Technology.

External linksEdit