One of my best friends at Microsoft is Bert Keely. I remember the first time I met Bert. He’d come up to Redmond to talk about a job working as a consultant on the eBooks project in 1998.
We spent an hour or two chatting together, and it was one of those meetings where you can feel the sparks of inspiration flying. After our talk, the execs in charge of the eBooks project asked me about Bert. Should they hire him fulltime? “Do whatever it takes to get him,” I said. “This guy is solid gold”.
I’ve never changed that first impression of Bert in the almost ten years I’ve known him. In that first month, we came up with ClearType. Bert had the clue as to how we could utilize unused resolution in LCD displays, I knew how to make it work using the Windows TrueType rasterizer – well, more accurately, I knew who the right people were to implement it. We recruited Greg Hitchcock and Mike Duggan into a “Skunkworks” project, the rest is history. Within a few days, we knew we had something special.
Up until then, the eBook project hadn’t had much credibility within the company, since it had no technology of its own. ClearType gave us “street cred”…Bert’s been a major driver in the TabletPC project since the beginning. He believes passionately that computers should be as portable and easy to use as paper.
That’s where our minds meet. I’m trying to make computer screens as good as paper for reading. Bert would like to make them great for both reading AND writing…
Bert is a GREAT guitar player. He plays in a Silicon Valley “three-car garage band” called the Flying Other Brothers. See them on YouTube, backing one of the legends of Woodstock, Country Joe McDonald (of Country Joe and the Fish), whose bitter-but-humorous anti-Vietnam war song, “Fixin’ to Die Rag” set the crowd on fire with lines like “Be the first one on your block to have your son come home in a box”.
See Bert and the band on:
I found out a secret Bert’s been hiding all these years, all the many times we’ve played music together – he also plays trumpet!
Guitar hero, multi-instrumentalist, technical genius, nice guy – don’t you just hate that?