The Story of John McAfee - The Infamous Techie

Anik Banerjee Anik Banerjee
Jun 24, 2021 8 min read
The Story of John McAfee - The Infamous Techie

McAfee is a popular antivirus software that almost all of us are familiar with but do you know the real story of John McAfee, the man behind the brand? If not, then you will be shocked to know that the face of McAfee is rather infamous in the world of technology.

The tech world is bustling with inspirational, energetic, knowledgeable, and respectable people, philanthropists, and people of sheer genius, who are born to outshine the darkness of the decades. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and their kinds have been hugely influential, but a man as genius and heinous as John McAfee is rare to be found in the world of technology or any other domains.

Along with being the founder of what has been one of the most popular antiviruses in its days, John McAfee is a man who can easily claim to be one of the most colorful and notorious of characters in real life, soaked in drugs, guns, women, and illegalities of all nature, which has also seen him multiple times behind the bars.

John McAfee also managed to run for president but obviously, he failed and turned away from it later in 2020. McAfee had witnessed dreadful days, with his father being a violent alcoholic who used to take it out on his wife and son, since his childhood. Had he not had to go through such days, he might have been a better person, but destiny had it otherwise.

A Look Back at John McAfee's Past
How did John McAfee built his career!
His fortune lied in McAfee
John McAfee's Life after McAfee Associates
When did John McAfee's Fortune Crumbled
John McAfee's refuge in Politics
McAfee’s Later Years followed by His Recent Death
FAQ

John McAfee died in Spain, on June 23, 2021, and this is his story.

A Look Back at John McAfee's Past

John David McAfee was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1945 to an American father and a British mother. His father was an army man and McAfee was born on the US army base in the UK.

Though John was born in England, his family moved to Virginia soon after that where he spent his early days. His father was an alcoholic, who had anger issues, as he recounts, right from his earliest of days.

While John was only 15 years old, his father shot himself dead one day. This was a significant event that John couldn’t reconcile with till the end. His violent past seems to be instrumental in the person he later developed into.

While mentioning his father in an interview, John McAfee was also recorded saying “every day I wake up with him.

After his father died, John eventually completed his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Roanoake College. He further went on for his Ph.D. degree in mathematics in Louisiana, when he was caught sleeping with an undergraduate student for which he was expelled.

How did John McAfee built his career

It was true that John inherited his father’s fondness for alcohol but after he was out of the university, John had to look for jobs. He was skilled in maths and eventually started learning coding, which enabled him to look for technical jobs.

His skill in coding and the drive for employment placed him as a programmer in NASA's New York-based Institute for Space Studies, where he joined at the final days of their Apollo program.

He left the job in there 1970 and shortly after that he went to Silicon Valley in search of jobs and discovered his love for hallucinogens, including LSD cocaine, and others along with the alcohol that was constant. Though later on, he joined Univac as a software designer and then worked as an operating system architect in Xerox, never did he detach himself from his addiction.

His constant involvement with drugs and alcohol almost left him lonely at the brink of depression, when he also decided to commit suicide but found his way to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and sobered down eventually.

His fortune lied in McAfee

After a brief career with Xerox, John joined Computer Sciences Corporation, where he was employed as a software consultant and later began working with Lockheed when he was introduced to the Brain computer virus, the world’s first computer virus.

Confronted with this new threat that had the potential of causing limitless damages to PCs, McAfee decided to counter this virus with the help of software programs. In this way, he launched McAfee Associates in 1897.

He started the company initially from his home and ultimately found his way to wipe out the first computer virus of its kind and limit the total damages done by the virus.

Overwhelmed by his success and an urge to share his knowledge, he published his first book in 1989 titled "Computer Viruses, Worms, Data Diddlers, Killer Programs and Other Threats to Your System", where he wrote his concerns about the upcoming dangers of similar viruses to computer users.

McAfee, one of the pioneering antiviruses in America, was an instant hit and soon it started making around $5 million a year when another virus named Michelangelo popped up in 1992.

Initially billed as a dangerous virus, capable of unfathomable worries for computer viruses, it was rather short-lived and infected only some thousand computers in the presence of McAfee. Sales surely soared for McAfee with this feat.


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John McAfee's Life after McAfee Associates

John McAfee left his company McAfee Associates in 1994 when he resigned and cashed in his shares worth $100 million two years later. John seemed to have settled down with his life after his resignation when he seemed to be counseling startups and entrepreneurs along with lecturing at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

He was also engaged in a host of other ventures, which included Tribal Voice that later on launched the first-ever chat messaging programs in Windows. Furthermore, McAfee founded a yoga retreat near his place in Colorado and in his past time wrote books. McAfee was also involved in donating computers, during this time, to various schools.

John’s life changed so much that it almost began to seem like a dream retirement but fate simply had its ways.


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When did John McAfee's Fortune Crumbled

McAfee’s fortune crumbled with the financial crisis of 2008 and with it, John’s life took a major bend towards the worse.

With the onset of this crisis, McAfee had to sell many of his assets and his fortune dwindled to $4 million. He sold his house and packed off from Colorado to settle in a tiny enclave of Belize, on the Caribbean coast.

Free from all the headaches and other financial troubles, John McAfee started his new ventures, which included the launch of a cigar-making business and a coffee distribution company. It is there that he met the American microbiologist, Allison Adonizio, who disclosed his plan of manufacturing a new class of antibiotics and founded a pharmaceutical company, Quorumex. However, McAfee soon took up his habit of drinking and became a regular customer of a bar nearby, where he soon became a favorite among the local drunks and the prostitutes of the area.

He even parted with the 12 years old relationship he shared with his girlfriend and became involved with a 16-year-old. His lifestyle became nastier with the influx of guns, girls, and drugs. It also began to get a lot of attention from the local police and coastguards.

Though he was famous there for his donations of arms and equipment to the local police and coastguards, his life was too conspicuous to ignore by this time. McAfee was finally arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine and the possession of unlicensed firearms, which eventually dropped charges and freed him. However, his life became too erratic to be normal by then.

In the same year, police found Greg Faull, a friend and a neighbor of McAfee’s, apparently shot dead and came seeking McAfee for the murder, mainly because of the alleged argument that he shared with Faull over the death of his dogs, who were poisoned.

John McAfee's refuge in Politics

McAfee denied killing his neighbor and managed to flee to Guatemala without being arrested, all the time arguing that his life was at risk there because the same offender who killed his neighbor might come looking for him.

He was finally arrested by the police in Guatemala, soon after which McAfee suffered heart problems, for which he wasn’t extradited to Belize and in turn found his way to the United States.

McAfee had long been disgusted with his antivirus product that was still registered under his name and also became vocal about his hatred. He even launched a video titled “How To Uninstall McAfee Antivirus” that featured John McAfee frolicking with other half-clothed women, wielding guns, and snorting bath salts.

He was again arrested for a series of other crimes, which included drunk driving and the possession of firearms, suspected of high caliber and ammunition. In the meanwhile, the court case for the murder of Greg Faull, which was silent but loomed at the background resulted in the issuance of a wrongful death lawsuit that urged McAfee to pay compensation. To avoid all these John seemed to find his refuge in politics.

McAfee saw him fit for the presidential nominations from the Libertarian Party but his run saw him third, followed by his vice-presidential nominations, which placed him third again

McAfee dodged taxes like never before and advocated the mining, use, and promotions of bitcoins and other cryptocurrency projects, which he headed. He also developed the Ghost ecosystem that consists of a privacy coin and an exchange.

McAfee’s Later Years followed by His Recent Death

The final twist came when he was finally arrested in Spain in October 2020 while he tried to flee to Barcelona from Turkey via airways.

John was awaiting extradition to the United States, convicted with the charges of tax evasion, concealing assets, and failing to file tax returns until June 23, 2021, when he died in his prison cell in Barcelona on the same date. As per the charges slammed against him, John McAfee, who turned 75 this year, was to face up to 30 years of jail time. However, he evaded that by ending his life apparently by hanging.

FAQ

How much was McAfee worth?

John McAfee was the former CEO of the anti-virus software company McAfee, who had a net worth of $4 million.

Why was McAfee wanted?

John McAfee was wanted on charges of tax evasion and cryptocurrency fraud in the US and If convicted, he could have faced up to 30 years in jail.

What Cryptocurrency did McAfee promote?

Authorities accuse Mr. McAfee, between 2017 and 2018, of hyping up cryptocurrencies like Verge, Reddcoin, Dogecoin in which he held a stake, then selling them for a profit when their price spiked following his endorsement. They also alleged he secretly took a cut of ICOs he promoted to followers.

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