Remembering Steve Jobs through his 1983 speech

It’s already been a year since Steve Jobs’ passing. To mark the occasion, I’d like to reflect on his life through a long lost recording of a speech he gave in 1983 that has only recently been made available. Listening to that speech is an incredible experience which I highly recommend.

It is remarkable how comfortable, funny and genuinely passionate Jobs already was. You can’t fake that or train for it. He understood so many things already, like how media alaways need to evolve to adapt to technological transitions. So many music majors and movie studios still haven’t learnt that lesson in 2012!

While talking about the ground-breaking typographical capacities of the Lisa, he states: “we are solving the problem of injecting liberal arts into computers.” This is almost word for word how he described Apple’s mission during his very last keynotes. It is simply remarkable how faithful he stayed to his mission over 30 years.

But these are not even the most impressive parts of that speech.

Remember that this speech took place back in 1983. Computers are mainly massive mainframes or expensive tools for a few executives. And even when sitting next to each other, computers can’t exchange data due to incompatible network protocols. Yet on that stage is a young man, barely 28 year old. And while the audience doesn’t realise it yet, this young man is describing in scarily accurate details the next three industrial revolutions that are going to take place over the next 30 years: the personal computer, the internet and mobile computing. He talks about it with the same certainty he would have if he had lived all this and travelled back in time.

Alan Kay said “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”. Steve Jobs was the living embodiment of this: not only did he have the vision of what the future could be, but he made it happen.

Steve Jobs has gone much too soon, and he will remain deeply missed.

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