Oct. 3, 2012 at 2:35 PM ET
About six months before the first Macintosh was unveiled, Steve Jobs spoke to the International Design Conference in Aspen, with the conference theme being "The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be."
It was a fitting title, and the first part of Jobs' remarks were referenced in a recent Smithsonian Magazine piece by Jobs' biographer Walter Issacson.
But the nearly 40-minute, question-and-answer session after the speech with Jobs had not been publicly shared until now.
It became available this week by Marcel Brown, who received a copy of the cassette tape — yes, cassette tape — of the speech from one of his clients who attended the the event in June 1983,
You can hear the digitized version of the whole thing on Brown's website, Life, Liberty and Technology. With Friday marking a year since Jobs died, the release of the tape — and Brown's efforts to "present this recording to the world so that it may be preserved indefinitely" — reminds us of Jobs' passion, salesmanship, arrogance, insight and beyond; yes, the V-word: vision for products that really did come true. Chief among them, the iPad, introduced by Apple in 2010.
In talking about the physical form that computers would take one day, Jobs said that that while they were about the size of a breadbox at that time, "We will find a way to put it in a shoebox, and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we'll find a way to put it in a book."
That book, he said, would be one that "you can carry around with you that you can learn how to use in 20 minutes."
That computer pricing of $2,500 has pretty much held true for the past nearly 30 years for many of Apple's "shoebox"-scale desktops and laptops. Though Jobs perhaps didn't know how to forecast the price of a "book" computer, the iPad, of course, first priced in at $499.
Jobs also envisioned the iTunes Store (started in 2003) and the App Store (2008), as he spoke about the-then current models of selling software — via boxes and on brick-and-mortar store shelves — as outdated and cumbersome.
Ten years before America Online made email — "You've got mail!" — a hit with the masses, Jobs also talked of electronic mail's importance, as well as that of the Internet-to-come's value to society, something that didn't really take hold until the mid-1990s:
We are all bombarded with information every day … our ability to turn all that information into something useful for us is very low … if we're really interested in ... a society where the ability to understand things, and distill information that is possess-able by everyone, the first thing is to get tools to everyone.
Jobs said he saw a time where he could come home to his computer and find, via filtering, for example, "any congressional testimony that has to do with gun control, any journal articles published, any newspaper articles published" on the topic, and "I can find out that my congressman gave some testimony last week about gun control that I didn't agree with, so I can ... write him a pretty nasty letter and zing it on the email system and make sure that one of his aides will read it tomorrow."
He was right about all that, except for one thing: Now constituents' emails are so numerous, it's unlikely an aide is going to read them so quickly — or at all.