Bill Gates has had plenty ideas that were too far ahead of their time: he was a big proponent of tablet computers a decade before the iPad came out, and he told Microsoft that search would be important way back in 1995.
But sometimes his vision was a little too rooted in the present.
Former Xbox chief Robbie Bach told a crowd at an entrepreneurs conference this morning that Bill Gates wanted to put a modem in the first Xbox.
It took weeks to convince him that the future was broadband.
In 2001, this is not a joke, we were in a meeting with Bill (Gates) and a bunch of the rest of the senior staff, and we said, we made a decision to take the modem out of Xbox. Bill said to us, that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. So we had a three-week email debate, and had to go back and have a meeting and convince Bill that taking the modem out was the right thing.
Back in the 1990s, that wasn't such a crazy idea. Broadband was just getting started, and Wi-Fi networks were still on the horizon. If you wanted a connected game console, a modem was the way to do it. That's how it was done with Sega's Dreamcast, released in 1998.
But this conversation happened in 2001.
Good thing Gates was flexible. Instead, the Xbox shipped with an ethernet port, and Xbox Live launched in 2002 as a broadband-only service.