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Tuesday, October 02, 2012, 04:25 pm PT (07:25 pm ET)

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

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.