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I think this story was less than 10 pages long, and published in the Scithers era of Asimovs.

The main character, a scientist of some sort, I think, receives from a mysterious personage (I don't remember whether it was in person or a delivery) an immensely powerful device (possibly a duplicating machine), and (perhaps) is challenged to do as much with it as possible in a particular time period. The main character does quite a lot, figuring out a wide variety of ways to use it to become wealthy and important.

At the end of the time person the giver arrives, and explains that he is an alternate version of the main character, and that he has given the device to many other alternates.

The catch is that, while the main character was working with the device, he has neglected his other investigations, and missed a one-a-century chance to obtain truly awesome power and immortality; the giver had used the device as a distraction to ensure that alternate versions of himself (apparently the only threat he could imagine) were kept out of his way.

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This is "Power Times One" by J. Michael Matuszewicz, Asimov's, February 1983.

The main character, a scientist of some sort, I think, receives from a mysterious personage (I don't remember whether it was in person or a delivery) an immensely powerful device (possibly a duplicating machine), and (perhaps) is challenged to do as much with it as possible in a particular time period.

"You're from this world, this—my—Earth, but your universe is ahead. But not too far." It came tumbling in on me. "And you want to test your machines, maybe experiment with a few cultures back here before you muck around with your own home."

He smiled, full face, eyes included. He laid the duplicator on the arm of my chair, hefted my last peach, and went to the door.

"I knew you were a bright boy. You have exactly two years to make the best of that little gadget. If you are overly moral, and stupid, you will smash it to little bits. If you are greedy and stupid, you will flood the market with gold. Use it carefully and it will be a great benefit."

The catch is that, while the main character was working with the device, he has neglected his other investigations, and missed a one-a-century chance to obtain truly awesome power and immortality

It tells me, now, that I could have activated the relay either five months ago or eighty years from now. It tells me that I could have contacted these peoples and received their gifts.

I missed it. I could have sat home and received the book when it was found. I could have used the information and become immortal and had my own machines of power.

And I would probably spend all my time exploring other universes, finding other 'me's and keeping them from finding the book in time to use it.

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