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Personal-technology columnist, Wall Street Journal

AGE 51


BIO "Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it isn't your fault." This opening line from Mossberg's debut column on Oct. 17, 1991, set the tone for the straight talk readers would come to expect and product marketers would learn to fear. At a time when most computer journalism reverently paid homage to the silicon god, Mossberg became the most influential computer journalist in part because he was writing for the most important business publication in the country, but also because he was a fair critic. "Lots of other papers had columns written for geeks, by geeks," says Mossberg, a 29-year veteran at the Journal. "You had this whole class of techno elite who thought you had to know the secret handshake." Throughout the years he has railed against everything from push technology to overpriced digital cameras, while praising Apple's new iMac and suggesting alternatives to browsers from Netscape and Microsoft. His no-nonsense prose won't win any style awards, but its readability earns it a gold medal.

1998 POWER PLAY Mossberg's power comes not from any single opinion or stunning career move, but from simply staying the course. By refusing to lower his standards, he has helped push the industry to make products easier to use.

PLACE YOUR BETS Savvy investors would do well to check Mossberg's opinion on new products and promising companies before laying down any cash.