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Seattle precursor to iPhone uncovered by Men's Journal?

Myhrvold's 'consumer computer' vision in 1991, as published by Men's Journal.
Myhrvold's 'consumer computer' vision in 1991, as published by Men's Journal.

A diagram from 1991, published by Men’s Journal, shows what appears to be a sophisticated mockup of a smart phone, and it comes as no surprise that it was from the deep and mysterious vaults of Nathan Myhrvold, ex-Microsoft tech chief.

Myhrvold has been in the news quite a bit in the past year – This American Life raked him over the coals in its long, thorough investigation of patent trolling; and then he received a tremendous amount of coverage for his esoteric and expensive cookbooks.

In its long article on Myhrvold, Men’s Journal explored the motivations and insights of the Seattle genius who founded Intellectual Ventures, studied astrophysics with Stephen Hawking and who has a giant Tyrannasaurus rex skeleton at his home, among many other attributes.

And the magazine also shared what could be one of Microsoft’s great misses:

In 1991, Myhrvold predicted the emergence of the iPhone down to the smallest detail, describing a “digital wallet” 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, he surmised. “The cost will not be very high,” he wrote. “It is pretty easy to imagine a $400 to $1,000 retail price.” Microsoft, however, was too cost conscious and risk averse to execute Myhrvold’s vision. “Hey, it was better than predicting the wrong thing,” Myhrvold says now. “Sitting around being bitter all the time, that’s not fun. But Microsoft certainly could have done more about it …”

What will Myhrvold’s wild intellectual kingdom reveal next?