There’s a chance you may have heard of Blackley before, but if not, he was the director of the “X-Box Advanced Technology Team” during the original device’s launch. In many ways, he is the true father of the console, since he came up with and pitched the idea of the console in the first place.
However, when developing the concept behind the original Xbox, Blackley and his team felt the need to employ a bit of deception. At the time, Microsoft was a very Windows-centric company, and one that, in Blackley’s own words, didn’t “understand games, let alone consoles.” As such, trying to pitch the idea of a gaming console that ran its own custom, non-Windows OS would’ve been an uphill battle.
So, Blackley gave Microsoft’s top brass precisely what they wanted: a pitch for a gaming console that would run a modified version of Windows. However, he never really intended to create such a device. Right from the start, he understood that no gamer “gives a fuck about Windows features” — even today, those words ring true in many ways.
“We absolutely, intentionally hoodwinked [Bill Gates],” Blackley said to Gamesradar, referring to his cloak-and-dagger practices. “I absolutely, explicitly in writing to him many times said that we were [creating a Windows console] at the time.”
Tricking the CEO of a major software company is no small feat, but things seemed to have worked out in the end. Eventually, it became clear to Microsoft’s higher-ups that the console Blackley & co. were working on was not, in fact, a Windows-based console, but something else entirely.
However, it didn’t matter by that time — the console was far enough along, and the gaming landscape had changed enough that decision-makers were ready to try something new. And thus, the original Xbox was born, and the rest is history.