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Ex-Microsoft Super Genius Myhrvold Could Have Been Steve Jobs

If you read the above headline thinking Nathan Myhrvold is an ex-genius who worked at Microsoft, you'd be wrong. Nathan is a current genius who used to work at Microsoft.

Bear with me for a bit of history -- I've been writing about this stuff for 28 years. so I tend to ramble more than Dickey Betts (whom I'm distantly related to on my mother's side):

You may remember that when Bill Gates shelled out $171 million for Groove, he really didn't care all that much about the software. He wanted Ray Ozzie's gray matter.

Gates had done this before: Some two decades ago, IBM had a multitasking kludge for PC-DOS called TopView. Microsoft wanted the same thing in its back pocket and found a company called Mondrian. Even better, Mondrian had brothers Nathan and Cam Myhrvold -- both total braniacs. This is what Bill really fell in love with. Nathan eventually became Bill's first chief software architect.

One project the long-retired Nathan worked on that never panned out was video on demand. But just recently it came to light that more than 20 years ago Myhrvold pitched Gates on a pocket-size phone that would "consolidate all personal communication -- telephone, schedule manager, notepad, contacts, and a library of music and books, all in one. It would record and archive everything you asked it to," says Men's Journal magazine. Bill passed on the project. Geniuses aren't always smart, and in this case I'm talking about Bill. Even Ken Jennings got a few questions wrong.

What, in your humble estimation, was Bill's biggest mistake? Confide in all of us at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/20/2012 at 1:19 PM


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