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Microsoft's CEO expects pen to be extinct in a decade

Technically Incorrect: Asked which technology won't exist in 2025, Satya Nadella crushes romantics and nostalgics.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Satya Nadella sleep eight ours a day. How does he find the time?Photo by ABC News screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It used to be mightier than the sword.

Now it's just a doddering old thing that will soon be only the stuff of romance novels and legends.

We're already poking at our screens so much that soon we'll have nibs, not fingernails. And along comes Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to give the fountain pen another 10 years at best.

In an interview with ABC News, he was asked which technology that we rely on today won't be around in 10 years time. He immediately pounced on the fountain pen as a technology -- one that we rely on.

Some might think it as more an elegant, old-fashioned romantic way to pen a letter to a long-lost love or to cut one's less beloved ex-spouse out of one's will.


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For Nadella, though, it's clearly the product of a long-gone engineer, an item that will soon only be seen in museums.

There is no room for nostalgia in the rampant engineer's brain. Well, other than when he thinks about cricket. Asked whose shoes he would love to spend a little time in, he answered that it would be the old, white cricket boots of Australian batsman Donald Bradman. Take that, Nikola Tesla. Take that, Tim Cook.

For me, perhaps the most intriguing element came when he was asked how long he slept. I fancy the majority of CEOs squeeze in four or five hours at best. I imagine such sleep is fitful.

But here's the chirpy, dapper engineer at the helm of a vast company who claims he sleeps eight hours a day. He says he slips out of bed at 7 a.m.

This can only be cause for admiration. This man is not obsessed. He knows he needs rest in order to help his mind function. This is the very Zen that was missing in the Zune.

Naturally, at times he forced himself into corporate answers. The one Web site or app he couldn't live without? "Microsoft Office," he said, with just a tiny hint of corporate exasperation. He sold the Microsoft Band as a fine alternative to a smartwatch. He insisted Windows Phone was here to stay.

I, though, cannot help already weeping at the thought of the world's fountain pens drying up. Does it mean we'll all clutch tablet styluses in a pitiful nod to the past?

Or will we one day reach again for a slim, ink-dispensing device to express ourselves in a more true, heartfelt manner?

Kids will never know what they missed, of course. The only slim, ink-dispensing devices they ever see are in their tattoo parlor.

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