William von Meister

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William von Meister
Count of Meister
A picture of William in 1989
Head of the House of Meister
TenureJanuary 8, 1972 - May 18, 1995
PredecessorF.W. von Meister
SuccessorFrederick von Meister
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
  • Prince Frederick
FatherF.W. von Meister
MotherEleanora Colloredo-Mannsfeld

William F. von Meister (February 21, 1942[1] – May 18, 1995) was a German Count[2] and 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.[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 death[edit]

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 then took the position of Head of the House of Meister, until his death in February 2004, which his son, Maximilian, took over as the Head of the House of Meister.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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


As Head of the House of Meister, and therefore a Prussian Count, he held the title of His Highness.[2]


  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 links[edit]