William von Meister

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William von Meister
Born William F. von Meister
(1942-02-21)February 21, 1942
New York City, New York, United States
Died May 18, 1995(1995-05-18) (aged 53)
Great Falls, Virginia, United States
Cause of death Cancer of the Skin
Alma mater Georgetown University (did not graduate)
American University
Known for Founder of The Source, and Control Video Corporation (AOL)
Children 1
  • F. W. Von Meister
  • Eleanora Colloredo-Mannsfeld
Relatives Wilhelm Meister (great-grandfather) founder of Hoechst AG

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 America Online.

Early years[edit]

William Ferdinand von Meister was born on February 21, 1942 in New York City to F. W. von Meister and Eleanora Colloredo-Mannsfeld.[2] 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.[3][4]

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.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Von Meister has at least one brother, Peter.[3] His great-grandfather, Wilhelm Meister (1827–1895), founded the Teerfarbenfabrik Meister, Lucius & Co. in Germany, which later became Hoechst AG.[citation needed]


Bill von Meister died of cancer in Great Falls, Virginia, at the age of 53,[5] leaving behind his son, Fredrick William von Meister.

Further reading[edit]


  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. ^ "William von Meister (1942-1995)". Luyken Family Association. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Duggan, John; Meyer, Henry Cord (2001). Airships in international affairs 1890-1940. Springer. p. xviii. ISBN 9781403920096. 
  5. ^ Esther Smith (1995-05-25). "Obituary: Bill von Meister". Washington Technology. 

External links[edit]