Everybody knows that Steve Jobs was a hell of a visionary, but every once in a while, we're reminded that the Apple co-founder wasn't years ahead of his time. He was decades ahead.
On Tuesday, tech blogger Marcel Brown posted what he described as the "lost Steve Jobs speech of 1983," an hour-long dispatch from the obscure International Design Conference in Aspen. It's no mystery that Jobs attended the conference and said some smart things. However, it is the first time the speech has been posted online in its entirety. Evidently, a video recording of the speech is non-existant and for the past 20 years, only 20 minutes of the speech had been recovered. Lucky for you, fanboy, one of Brown's former clients attended the conference and held on to the audio cassette recording of the speech that was handed out to the small audience after Jobs's talk.
It's a long talk, but it's fascinating -- regardless of whether or not you're a Jobs junkie. And this particular conference was apparently a pretty formative experience for Jobs himself. Walter Isaacson wrote about Jobs' experience at the conference just last month and said it was there that Steve Jobs "was exposed to the clean and functional approach of the Bauhaus movement, which was enshrined by Herbert Bayer in the buildings, living suites, sans-serif font typography and furniture on the Aspen Institute campus."
It was also there that Jobs discussed his vision of the future of computing with a mind-bending amount of foresight. In one way or another, Jobs manages to touch on everything from the advent of the World Wide Web, which was still years away, to the inevitable takeover of mobile technology, which was decades away. He even gives the iPad a little nudge. Jump ahead to about minute 25 and Jobs describes his vision:
Now, Apple strategy is really simple. What we want to do is 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. We want to do it this decade. And we really want to do it with a radio link in it so that you don't have to hook up to anything to be in communication with all these larger databases and other computers.
Of course, Apple didn't come close to inventing the iPad in the 1980s. They did come out with the MacBook in the 1990s, but it certainly wasn't until the 21st century that the vision was completely realized with the 3G-equipped iPad.
Well hey, like we said, we all knew Steve Jobs was a visionary. Sometimes it helps to remember that he didn't come up with this stuff overnight. It took a lot of years to see that vision through. And a few hits of LSD, too.