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

Nathan Myhrvold is back in the national spotlight again, but in a very different way this time.

Myhrvold in his chef's garb

A cover story in Men’s Journal, called “How a Geek Grills a Burger,” casts the former Microsoft chief technology officer as a “mad scientist” living out a “nerd fantasy.”

He has a bestselling six-volume cookbook, he studied astrophysics with Stephen Hawking, and his giant Tyrannasaurus rex skeleton has turned his waterfront home into a tourist attraction.

And yes, by the way, he tried to convince Microsoft to make the iPhone, basically, more than two decades ago. From the piece …

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.

Taken in its entirety, it’s very different picture of Myhrvold than the one painted last year in the This American Life/Planet Money piece, “When Patents Attack.” The radio investigation likened the approach of Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures  patent holding company to a “mafia-style shakedown.”

The Men’s Journal piece leaves a different impression overall, portraying Myhrvold more as geeky genius than as a patent troll. Myhrvold participated in the story, apparently enthusiastically — even sticking a half-lemon in his mouth for one goofy pic.

Follow-up: Inside Nathan Myhrvold’s office: The ultimate ‘geekspace’

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