Listen to Steve Jobs predict the future from 1983

A blogger has shared an old, eerily prescient speech given by the late Apple CEO


Prachi Gupta
October 3, 2012 8:55PM (UTC)

This summer, the first 20 minutes of a "lost" 1983 speech by Steve Jobs, given at the International Design Conference in Aspen, emerged on the Internet. Yesterday, the blogger Marcel Brown obtained the remaining 40-ish minutes, which include a fascinating Q&A with Jobs, in which the entrepreneur foreshadowed a lot of the changes that have only come to fruition in the past decade.  Here are some of  the insights, as summarized by Brown:

  • 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.
For the full list and speech, visit Marcel Brown's blog here.
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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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