While Microsoft may be trying to find its footing in the smartphone wars today, it turns out that the company almost had a 16 year head start on the iPhone. In a lengthy profile in Men's Journal, Nathan Myhrvold — formerly the Chief Technology Officer at the company and the founder of Microsoft Research — reveals that he came up with the idea for an iPhone-like device way back in 1991 (IBM's Simon, widely considered the first smartphone, wasn't shown until the following year). The gadget would let you manage your schedule, use GPS to figure out where you were, and serve as a communication device that would give you access to email, fax, and paging services. But it looks like it was a little too costly for Microsoft's blood, and the company passed even though Myhrvold believed that the device could be sold for between $400 and $1,000. "Microsoft certainly could have done more about it," he admits. "One of the greatest things that Apple and Jobs were very good at doing was daring to do the very different thing."
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