Steve Jobs was a visionary in the technology industry unlike anyone before or after him. He often predicted things that became essential facets of our everyday lives.
Take for instance the “Macintosh in a book”, which he predicted in early 80s and essentially became the iPad of 2010. There’s also the cloud and remote storage, something he understood in 1997, and you can hear him predict in this video. He realised the importance of “interpersonal computing” while at NeXT, before Sir Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web on a NeXTcube that would become the world’s first web server.
In fact, I think Jobs’ ideas about “interpersonal computing” are quite often missed in the story arc of his life when we hear about it in the press. Quite often we hear of how he only changed the PC business with the Macintosh, then the music industry with iTunes and the iPod, followed of course by smartphones with the iPhone and then tablets with the iPad. To me, he was an essential figure in the creation of the internet and the web as we know it today.
Not only because the web was born on a NeXT computer, but because Steve Jobs understood and really pushed for the networking standards and concepts that make the internet of today a reality. The NeXTcube featured high-speed ethernet, graphical e-mail and object-orineted programming in 1988. The concepts that the NeXTSTEP OS introduced led to the familiar WebObjects platform used widely on the internet today.
So it’s no surprise that a largely unseen Playboy article has been uncovered today that says Jobs predicted that we’d all buy computers just for access to a “nationwide communications network”… in 1985. Here’s a snippet from it, but you can read the full thing at the source link bellow.
“Playboy: What will change?
Jobs: The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people-as remarkable as the telephone.
Playboy: Specifically, what kind of breakthrough are you talking about?
Jobs: I can only begin to speculate. We see that a lot in our industry: You don’t know exactly what’s going to result, but you know it’s something very big and very good.
Playboy: Then for now, aren’t you asking home-computer buyers to invest $3000 in what is essentially an act of faith?
Jobs: In the future, it won’t be an act of faith. The hard part of what we’re up against now is that people ask you about specifics and you can’t tell them. A hundred years ago, if somebody had asked Alexander Graham Bell, “What are you going to be able to do with a telephone?” he wouldn’t have been able to tell him the ways the telephone would affect the world. He didn’t know that people would use the telephone to call up and find out what movies were playing that night or to order some groceries or call a relative on the other side of the globe. But remember that first the public telegraph was inaugurated, in 1844. It was an amazing breakthrough in communications. You could actually send messages from New York to San Francisco in an afternoon. People talked about putting a telegraph on every desk in America to improve productivity. But it wouldn’t have worked. It required that people learn this whole sequence of strange incantations, Morse code, dots and dashes, to use the telegraph. It took about 40 hours to learn. The majority of people would never learn how to use it. So, fortunately, in the 1870s, Bell filed the patents for the telephone. It performed basically the same function as the telegraph, but people already knew how to use it. Also, the neatest thing about it was that besides allowing you to communicate with just words, it allowed you to sing.”