Imagine a world where you could e-mail Bill Gates...and actually get a response.
One would think that someone like Gates, the billionaire tech entrepreneur who co-created Microsoft, does not have time to spend hours and hours monitoring his inbox, let alone answer messages from strangers.
That's something I would have placed money on — that is, until I recently came across a profile of Gates published in a 1994 issue of The New Yorker, entitled "E-Mail From Bill." Reading the article, I was certainly impressed, not least by how accurate one of the most important thought leaders of our time was at predicting that digital communication would one day come to entirely rule our lives.
It's also mind-boggling that John Seabrook, a relatively unknown journalist at the time, could fire off an email to the Microsoft co-founder (and, in 1994, the richest man in America, according to Forbes), and get a response – from the man himself – within 18 minutes after hitting the "send" button. It even led to a month-long digital relationship between the two.
But the most surprising (and pretty hilarious) discovery from the profile is something you never would have guessed about Gates.
In his initial email to Gates, Seabrook asks: "What kind of understanding of another person can email give you?"
As it turns out, the answer is a lot.