Steve Jobs speech from 1983 foretells rise of mobile computing, iPad

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The full-length version of a "lost" Steve Jobs speech given at the Design Conference in Aspen was unearthed and posted to the web on Tuesday, illustrating some of the prescient insights the late tech guru offered as to how computers would one day be an overwhelming presence in our lives.

Jobs 1983 Speech
Cassette tape of Jobs' 1983 Aspen speech. | Source: LifeLibertyTech.com


AppleInsider first reported on the 1983 speech in August, though that copy was merely a 20-minute snippet of the full hour-long recording revealed on Tuesday.

The new audio comes from blog LifeLibertyTech.com, which obtained a cassette tape recording of the speech handed out to conference attendees.

Perhaps the highlight of the newly-published recording is a question and answer session in which Jobs describes mobile computing, pointing out that he would like to one day build a computer in a slate-like form-factor, much like the iPad.



Points of interest from the audio as noted by LifeLibertyTech:
  • 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 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.
  • He says Apple?s strategy is to ?put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you that you can learn how to use in 20 minutes?. Does that sound like anything we are familiar with today? And they wanted to do it with a ?radio link? so that people wouldn?t need to hook it up to anything to communicate with ?larger databases? and other computers. Hmmm ?.
  • Right at the end of the Q&A session, a question is asked about voice recognition, which he believed was the better part of a decade away from reality. Given the context of Siri today, it is interesting to hear him talk about the difficultly of recognizing language vs voice because language is contextually driven. He says, ?This stuff is hard?.
The recording is available for download on the publication's blog.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member


    What the Anti-Apple Brigade pretends to forget is that marketing really seems to have been secondary for Jobs. Maybe he even jumped into marketing because he thought it would be a challenge for him.


     


    Turn off the RDF, peek under the showmanship and the stage presence, ignore the choices made in print, audio, and video ads, and Steve Jobs was a true visionary in the industry itself, more so than all others, self-proclaimed or otherwise. He saw what others didn't (or couldn't). He dismissed a lot of what they did see. And he was right, far more often than not.


     


    Also, don't do it again, Stephanie.

  • Reply 2 of 30
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,206member


    A terrible job was done cleaning up the audio, when it could be a whole lot better. The result is almost unintelligible. People think that just by using Audacity they're a pro--hence the name, I guess! Yup, the tape hiss was removed... along with a lot of information. Better equalization of what's been posted can help but it would be best to start with the original rip.

  • Reply 3 of 30

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post


    A really poor job was done cleaning up that audio.





    Agreed.

  • Reply 4 of 30
    hypoluxahypoluxa Posts: 694member
    Pretty cool that he basically predicted what we all are using right now. There won't be another like him for quite some time I bet.
  • Reply 5 of 30
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    That was right around the time that the first cell phones became available to the public in the US although we did have Motorola commercial radio phones before that. The first Mac 128k was released later that year. Seems like so long ago but I remember the time well. I wasn't an early adopter of Mac as I had a IBM PC 8088 around that time. I did get on the Mac bandwagon about 1984 though or whenever the Mac Plus was released.

  • Reply 6 of 30
    ltmpltmp Posts: 204member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    That was right around the time that the first cell phones became available to the public in the US although we did have Motorola commercial radio phones before that. The first Mac 128k was released later that year. Seems like so long ago but I remember the time well. I wasn't an early adopter of Mac as I had a IBM PC 8088 around that time. I did get on the Mac bandwagon about 1984 though or whenever the Mac Plus was released.



    You're such a bandwagon jumper.  My first was the Apple ][e.  


     


    I was lucky enough to have a math professor for a dad.  I had a dumb terminal to a Dec 10 at home by the time I was 6.  Such a great life!


     


    As one of the first kids to grow up surrounded by tech (and buried in science fiction books), I always assumed that one day we would be living in a world like this one.


     


    I just didn't really expect to be here to see it.  


     


    Steve not only expected it, he plotted a strategy to get there.

  • Reply 7 of 30
    ochymingochyming Posts: 474member
    Here are some consideration for the appleHaters and plain sarcastic people:


    1- A composer who plays no instrument still is a visionary of sound.

    2- An architect who needs a structural engineer still is a visionary of form/space relationship.

    3- Galileo, Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Picasso are all geniuses! They ALL borrowed from others, their work would have been not theirs without others people input.
  • Reply 8 of 30
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LTMP View Post


     


    I was lucky enough to have a math professor for a dad.  I had a dumb terminal to a Dec 10 at home by the time I was 6.  Such a great life!



    My mom was the math professor.


     


    I seriously thought we would have flying cars or at least a jet pack by now.

  • Reply 9 of 30
    vaelianvaelian Posts: 446member
    Pretty good stuff in there. I didn't listen to the Q&A since the questions were impossible to hear, but the way he foretold everything was pretty great indeed. He even foretold something that's yet to happen: people expressing themselves through logic (code) so that others in the future can actually ask them questions.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    Mmm...even the waveform of his voice looks visionary!
  • Reply 11 of 30

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LTMP View Post


    You're such a bandwagon jumper.  My first was the Apple ][e.  


     


    I was lucky enough to have a math professor for a dad.  I had a dumb terminal to a Dec 10 at home by the time I was 6.  Such a great life!


     


    As one of the first kids to grow up surrounded by tech (and buried in science fiction books), I always assumed that one day we would be living in a world like this one.


     


    I just didn't really expect to be here to see it.  


     


    Steve not only expected it, he plotted a strategy to get there.



     


    That was my first experience with Apple as well.  Some friends of mine had an Apple IIe, and my best friend's mom had an Apple IIc which looked like an early laptop with no screen.  She had a monochrome monitor to match as well.  We used to play old versions of Beyond Castle Wolfenstein and Spy Hunter and do some very basic programming.  Cell phones and the like were still only in Star Trek re-runs to me. 

  • Reply 12 of 30
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    While this is fascinating stuff, I'm not liking this whole 'every first week of October we'll milk a dead guy for page hits' business
  • Reply 13 of 30
    dickprinterdickprinter Posts: 1,060member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post



    While this is fascinating stuff, I'm not liking this whole 'every first week of October we'll milk a dead guy for page hits' business


    But this is only the first week of the first October that the dead guy is dead....so.....what brings you to this conclusion?

  • Reply 14 of 30


    The mention of MIT coming to Aspen and creating an interactive video disk of the streetscape sounds something like.......Google's Streetview.

  • Reply 15 of 30
    Isaacson captured Steve's toying with the idea of "Macintosh in a book" in the bio. Not sure why its a big deal now.

    I'm not sure "predict" is the right term. Steve clearly had the ideas in his head for such products. He had to wait for technology to catch up to his vision.
  • Reply 16 of 30


    Doesn't surprise me. You listen to his closing keynote from the infamous MacWorld 1997 and he hinted to cloud computing, how computers would become devices, and how those devices would connect to (rather than store) our data.

  • Reply 17 of 30
    HA! This awesome tape reveals (starting at the 11 minute mark) that people (Apple included) will fall back into 'old media habits' and demand TV on their computers.

    Marshall Mcluhan was still decades ahead of Steve Jobs understanding the influence of technology on culture, but Steve took it to the next level by actually making the product itself.

    "The next medium, whatever it is—it may be the extension of consciousness—will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind."- Marshall McLuhan (1962)
  • Reply 18 of 30


    I admire Steve to a large degree, too, but in the world of technology marketing, if you have a big vision and tremendous persistence, it always seems to work-out.  I wouldn't exactly call him a prophet or even someone who in 1983 had any idea how to execute the mobile devices that he did in the 2000's, but he had a big vision and tremendous persistence.  I'm pleased it worked out for him.  It's too bad he passed so early, because I bet he would have written some interesting books in his old age.


     


    Compare in constrast to the quote "Nobody needs more than 640K" (paraphrased) and you can see the difference between a classic marketer and a classic engineer.

  • Reply 19 of 30
    moxommoxom Posts: 326member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    Mmm...even the waveform of his voice looks visionary!


    image

  • Reply 20 of 30
    vadaniavadania Posts: 425member
    The mention of MIT coming to Aspen and creating an interactive video disk of the streetscape sounds something like.......Google's Streetview.

    What does this have to do with M.I.T. exactly?
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