The lost Steve Jobs tape

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Very cool - from Life, Liberty and Technology:
The �Lost� Steve Jobs Speech from 1983; Foreshadowing Wireless Networking, the iPad, and the App Store
In 1983, Steve Jobs gave a speech to a relatively small audience at a somewhat obscure event called the International Design Conference in Aspen (IDCA). The theme of that year�s conference was �The Future Isn�t What It Used To Be�, which looking back seems all too fitting. Circumstances being what they are, very little is available on the Internet regarding this Steve Jobs speech. In my extensive research, I could find only one recording of this talk, which itself was just posted in June of this year. This talk received a fair amount of attention at the end of August, after it was mentioned in a Smithsonian Magazine article written by Walter Issacson, Jobs� biographer. However, the recording currently available is not complete. It ends after about 20 minutes, which corresponds with the end of Jobs� prepared speech. Left out is almost 40 minutes of a follow-up question and answer session where Jobs offered incredible insight into his vision of future technology. I now present this recording to the world so that it may be preserved indefinitely.

First, I�d like to thank one of my oldest clients, John Celuch of Inland Design. He personally attended this speech almost 30 years ago and was the one who gave me the recording I now share. Attendees of the speech received a cassette tape copy and he held on to it all these years. He found the tape sometime last year and thought I might like it. He was absolutely right, but because I was in the middle of a move (and also due to a lack cassette tape players available to me!) I set the tape aside and put off listening to it until this summer. Had I known what was in this recording, I would not have waited so long! Incidentally, John met Steve Jobs at this conference. During their interaction Steve Jobs gave him something to put in a time capsule that was buried at the conference. To our knowledge this time capsule has yet to be dug up. I�ll share more on this in a future article.
A bit more - a few bullet points:
  • He mentions that computers are so fast they are like magic. I don�t think it is a coincidence that he called the iPad �magical�.
  • He states that in a few years people will be spending more time interacting with personal computers than with cars. It seems so obvious now, but hardly a given back then.
  • He equates society�s level of technology familiarity to being on a �first date� with personal computers. He recognized that technology would continue to evolve in the near future as would people�s comfort level with it. In hindsight, once it became dominant the PC industry stood relatively still while Jobs was busy planning �the next big thing�.
  • He confidently talks about the personal computer being a new medium of communication. Again, this is before networking was commonplace or there was any inkling of the Internet going mainstream. Yet he specifically talks about early e-mail systems and how it is re-shaping communication. He matter-of-factly states that when we have portable computers with radio links, people could be walking around anywhere and pick up their e-mail. Again, this is 1983, at least 20 years before the era of mobile computing.
  • He mentions an experiment done by MIT that sounds very much like a Google Street View application.
  • He discusses early networking and the mess of different protocols that existed at the time. He predicts that we were about 5 years away from �solving� networking in the office and 10-15 years from solving networking in the home. I�d say he was pretty much dead-on.
Much more at the site. Remember, this is in 1983. The MITS Altair made its magazine debut eight years earlier -- this was a machine with no operating system, no programming language and that relied on a teletype for input and output.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on October 4, 2012 11:04 AM.

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