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Steve Jobs' 1983 Speech Makes Uncanny Predictions About The Future

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In 1983 Ronald Reagen was president, the Washington Redskins went to the Super Bowl and Steve Jobs spoke about the future of the tech industry at the International Design Conference in Aspen, CO.

In August, the first 20 minutes of the now infamous speech (titled "The Future Isn't What It Used To Be") from the former Apple CEO was released by the Center of Design Innovation, offering listeners a glimpse of the Apple co-founder's past vision. The recording circulated quickly around the web, but some enthusiasts noticed that the question-and-answer session orchestrated by Jobs was missing from the audio clip.

This week the final 40-minute portion of the recording was released, thanks to the handiwork of Marcel Brown, creator of the Life, Liberty, and Technology blog. One of Brown's clients had personally attended the speech in 1983 and supplied Brown with a cassette tape (remember those?). He then digitized this recording, which you can listen to in full, below.

Now that we've got almost 30 years of perspective on this speech, let's see if Jobs' predictions were spot-on or not.

Even in the very opening of the speech, Jobs states, "The kids growing up now are definitely products of the computer generation, and in their lifetimes the computer will become the dominate medium."

But what's most notable is Jobs' discussion of the personal, portable computer. Gizmodo points out that in 1983, the Macintosh hadn't even been released. Still, Jobs certainly had a vision of what he wanted Apple to accomplish.

From the recording, per Gizmodo: "Apple's strategy is really simple. What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes. That's what we want to do and we want to do it this decade."

What he says next might send shivers up the spines of those reading while connected to the Internet via WiFi: "And we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don't have to hook up to anything and you're in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers."

Jobs also says that his company was "about five years away from solving the problem" of connecting computers together in the office, and ten years away from "hooking" computers together in the home. According to The Next Web, his predictions were very close to reality, as there was "significant adoption" of the internet by 1993.

Brown lists several other points on his blog that Jobs makes about the future. Some highlights are below:

  • Jobs stated that we will "spend more time interacting with personal computers than cars."
  • Brown further explains how Jobs imagined a world where "people could be walking around anywhere and pick up their e-mail."
  • Jobs tried to explain his opinions of Apple's role in distributing knowledge. He stated, "We are all bombarded with information every day," noting that much of this information would not distill "wisdom" (ahem, YouTube cat videos.) Thus, his goal was to provide tools "to distribute that intelligence" for something useful, that could be "possess-able by everyone." Given the vastness of the internet and the mobile technology we have today, his predictions are are startlingly accurate.
  • Jobs recognized the difficulty of voice recognition early on. "This stuff is hard," he said toward the end of the discussion. Brown mentions that this is an interesting statement, considering the (often criticized) Siri app on iPhones today.

To listen to the entire speech, check out the digitized clip provided below, or click over to Brown's blog. The previously unheard Q&A begins about 21 minutes into the recording.

Were you surprised by these predictions from the 1980s? Let us know what you think about Jobs' talk in the comments section, or tweet us at [@HuffPostTech].

Source: Marcel Brown:

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