And I believe that this collaborative model has existed in higher education for a long time. But we’re starting to see it applied into the commercial world as well. And this is going to be the third major revolution that these desktop computers provide is revolutionizing human to human communication in group work. We call it interpersonal computing. In the 1980s, we did personal computing. And now we’re going to extend that as we network these things to interpersonal computing.
Interviewer: Taking the long view now, what was the image of the computer in the mid 196Os or whenever you first saw one? And where are we now? What was the – how did the PC enact that change?
Steve Jobs: I first saw my first computer when I was twelve. I saw my first computer when I was twelve. And it was at NASA. We had a local NASA center nearby. And it was a terminal, which was connected to a big computer somewhere and I got a timesharing account on it. And I was fascinated by this thing. And I saw my second computer a few years later which was really the first desktop computer ever made. It was made by Hewlett Packard. It was called the 9100-A. And it ran a language called BASIC. And it was very large. It had a very small cathode ray tube on it for display. And I got a chance to play with one of those maybe in 1968 or ‘69. And spent every spare moment I had trying to write programs for it. I was so fascinated by this. And so I was probably fairly lucky. And then my introduction to computers very rapidly moved from a terminal to within maybe twelve months or so, actually seeing one of the first, probably the first desktop computer ever…ever really produced. And so my point of view never really changed from being able to get my arms around it even though my arms probably didn’t quite fit around that first one.
Interviewer: What was the role — how have personal computers hanged the landscape of computers? I mean back then it was centralized power, it was in a mainframe. Now we have three times as much power at the fringe than we have in the center, five times as much power.
Steve Jobs: I am not the right person to ask.
Steve Jobs: Ask, Al.
Interviewer: How did the PC change the world?
Steve Jobs: Well, though the analogy is nowhere perfect and certainly one needs to factor out the environmental concerns of the analogy as well. There is a lot to be said for comparing it to going from trains, from passenger trains to automobiles. And the advent of the automobile gave us a personal freedom of transportation. In the same way the advent of the computer gave us the ability to start to use computers without having to convince other people that we needed to use computers. And the biggest effect of the personal computer revolution has been to allow millions and millions of people to experience computers themselves decades before they ever would have in the old paradigm. And to allow them to participate in the making of choices and controlling their own destiny using these tools.
But it has created problems. And the largest problems are that now that we have all these very powerful tools, we’re still islands and we’re still not really connecting these people using these powerful tools together. And that’s really been the challenge of the last few years and the next several years is how to connect these things back together so that we can rebuild a fabric of these things rather than just individual points f light if you will. And get the benefit of both, the passenger train and the automobile.
Interviewer: What’s the vision behind the NeXT machine? We’ve already covered this a little bit.
Steve Jobs: Everything that we’ve done in our — everything I’ve done with computers in my life has been along pretty much a single vector. And NeXT is just one more point on that same vector. Ah in this case what we observed was that the computing power we could give to an individual was an order magnitude more than the PCs we’re giving. In the sense that people want to do many things at once and you really need true multi tasking. We really did want to start to network these things together in very sophisticated networks. So the technology to build that in became available. And most important we saw a way to build a software system that was about ten times as powerful than any PC. And where new software could be created in a fourth of the time.
So we spent four years with fifty to hundred of the best software people we could find building this new software system. And it’s turned out beautifully.
Interviewer: What’s the vision behind NeXT?
Steve Jobs: It’s not so much different than everything I’ve ever done in my life with computers starting with the Apple II and the Macintosh, and now NeXT which is if you believe that these are the most incredible tools we’ve ever built which I do, then the more powerful tool we can give to people, the more they can do with it. And in this case we found a way to do two or three things that were real breakthroughs.
Number one was to put a much more powerful computer in front of people for about the same price as a PC. The second was to integrate that networking into the computer so we can begin to make this NeXT revolution within a personal computing. And the PCs so far have not been able to do that very well. And the third thing, and maybe the most important was to create a whole new software architecture from the ground up that lets us build these new types of applications and lets them, lets us build them in 25 percent of the time that it normally takes to do on a PC. So we spent four years with 50 to a hundred of the best software people that I know creating a whole new software platform from the ground up. And the way our industry works is that you create this platform software first and then you go out and you get people to write new applications on top of it. Well the height that these new applications can soar is…is enabled or limited by the 8platform software. And there’s only been three systems that have ever been successful in the whole history of desktop computing and that was the Apple IIs platform software of which there wasn’t too much. The IBM PC and Macintosh. So we’re attempting to create the fourth platform software standard and hopefully we’ll succeed because it will allow these applications to be written which far far exceed in capacity what can be done in today’s machines.