The Man Who Fought Computer Viruses

Computer users around the world know the name McAfee as a synonym for one of the best-known Antivirus software programs: It is supposed to protect against the most common forms of malware. The idea for this came from a man who caught one of the first computer viruses himself in the mid-1980s : John McAfee. He later reported himself able to fight the virus back then, but he was sure that not everyone would do the same - the idea for the McAfee virus protection program was born.

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Company founder McAfee made the software as rich as it was famous in the 1990s. And yet in recent years, after leaving the self-founded company, he has landed in the headlines as a highly controversial personality who is said to have operated and fueled controversial cryptocurrency businesses and evaded taxes in the millions, which one from sex, weapons and possibly also Cultivated a drug-dominated lifestyle and dealt with legal problems from the USA to the Caribbean.

Pioneer in the fight against computer viruses

Born in 1945 on a US military base in Scotland and raised in Virginia, McAfee studied mathematics in the USA, but lost his doctoral position because he slept with one of his students, his future wife. He took up various jobs as a programmer at large technology companies, such as Nasa, Univac and Xerox - at the same time, according to reports from the BBC , he was said to have drunk a lot and used other drugs.

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In the mid-1980s, McAfee was working on a secret speech recognition program for the US defense company Lockheed Martin when he came across Pakistani Brain , one of the first PC viruses ever to spread via floppy disks. McAfee recognized the business opportunity to write software to fight this virus, reportedly contacted an acquaintance to write virus scanning software, and founded McAfee Associates in 1987. Although, as with some points about McAfee's life, there are other stories: "I freaked out at the time and thought I could stop this computer virus. And then within a day and a half I wrote a program that removes the virus," said McAfee himself once. Either way: Many consider him a pioneer in the industry, and his software product at the time was one of the first of its kind. It made McAfee rich, and in 1993 it is said to have had a 67 percent market share.

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The company's founder withdrew from his company as early as the early 1990s. When the US chip manufacturer Intel took over the McAfee brand in 2011 and in the meantime deleted the name of the increasingly controversial founder from the product name in 2014 , McAfee was apparently only right - he described it as the " worst software on the planet " and was glad not more to be associated with her. In 2017, under pressure from Intel, he suddenly reached an agreement that, as the former founder of antivirus software, he was no longer allowed to use his own name in connection with IT security-related products or services .

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Life in extremes

At the latest after leaving his self-founded company, McAfee's life became increasingly eccentric and bizarre. First he wrote books, founded a yoga studio and various other companies, including one for instant messaging. But there was no really sweeping success. After allegedly losing a lot of money to the 2008 financial crisis, McAfee moved to Belize, Central America. There, a secret laboratory on his property was initially stormed by special forces because they suspected a drug laboratory there, but in fact only herbal remedies were experimented there.

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