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1991 design for smartphone by ex-Microsoft CTO revealed

Microsoft could have launched the smartphone before anyone else if it had taken the path offered by one of its now former team members. A new article on the Men's Journal website has that revelation as part of an extensive profile of Nathan Myhrvold, who worked at Microsoft as its chief technology officer for 13 years and helped to found the company's Microsoft Research division.

The profile reveals that way back in 1991, Myhrvold submitted a design for what he called a "digital wallet." As you can see in the image above, the design closely matches the casing, the features and the user interface that is now common in smartphones.

Myhrvold said at the time of his proposal that the cost of such a device " ... will not be very high. It is pretty easy to imagine a $400 to $1,000 retail price." That also mirrors what a modern smartphone costs without the typical two year wireless contract.

Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't jump on the chance to be ahead of everyone else due to cost concerns. Myhrvold seems to now take the rejection in stride, saying, "Hey, it was better than predicting the wrong thing. Sitting around being bitter all the time, that’s not fun. But Microsoft certainly could have done more about it."

Image via Nathan Myhrvold/Men's Journal

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