In 1983, Steve Jobs gave a speech at the International Design Conference in Aspen. In June, the first 20 minutes of the speech made its way around the Internet. Unfortunately, the additional 40 minutes of Jobs’ appearance was still missing from the archives. Writer Marcel Brown can be credited for tracking down that first 20 minutes. However, his associate John Celuch was at that conference nearly 30 years ago and just so happened to have the full speech, plus the missing Q&A that followed. Brown recently posted the entire speech, plus the Q&A to his blog, Life, Liberty, and Technology.
The speech is fascinating. Jobs talks about an unimaginable future, filled with networking computers, electronic mail boxes, and digital downloads. At the beginning of the speech, Jobs asks how many people in the audience owned a computer. There was no count, but from his reaction, you could guess that very few people raised their hand. He later talked about how he believed that personal computers would someday be the main form communication between people and that people will someday be spending more time interacting with PCs than with cars.
About 25 minutes into the speech, Jobs mentions putting a computer into “a book.” What we want to do is put an incredibly great computer into a book that you can carry around with you and learn to use in 20 minutes.” He also mentions wanting to allow users to hook up with a “radio link” so that you don’t have to connect any wires to it. Jobs then states that Apple had already designed the computer that will eventually go into the “book” (He was referencing the “Lisa” computer), but technology has not advanced enough to let them actually put them together. After explaining the steps that the company will take to make computers smaller and smaller, he says, “finally, we will make a computer small enough to fit into a book and we will sell it for less than $1,000.”
He claimed that Apple would have this technology available in seven to 10 years. He was off by a couple of decades, but it is clear that the plan was in motion to invent the iPad before Apple even invented the Macintosh computer. When you think about it, the Lisa was the first iPad.