Even 3 decades ago, Steve Jobs had a clear vision of software‘s role in making computing personal. In this clip, dated a mere 4 years from the founding of Apple, he describes how he wants to use all this new hardware computing power to make the 1-on-1 interaction with a computer go smoother.
(From a rare clip contributed to the Computer History Museum by Regis McKenna)
Skip to 12:17 where he talks about this, specifically saying:
…we’re gonna start chewing up power specifically to help that 1-on-1 interaction go smoother – and specifically not, to actually do the number crunching and database management and word processing, we’re gonna actually start applying a lot of that power specifically to help us remove that barrier…
Of course, as with all great founders, he was quite optimistic about how soon this would happen:
…it looks like the timing is just right for that to occur. So hopefully, when we have our international Applecore meeting, the 3rd or 4th one from now, we’ll all be able to talk about how we’ve solved that problem, because I really think it’s gonna happen…
It’s incredible how well products Apple produced in the last 3 decades, under Steve Jobs, hold up against this articulation of Apple’s software strategy – and explains the inordinate level of effort expended in getting the user experience right. Apple products have a better user experience than other companies building similar products – not because they have incredible designers – but because these designers are building to solve a different, more aspirational, more human goal.
John Gruber’s recent post on Isaacson completely missing this centrality of software in the Steve Jobs narrative reminded me of this clip. People who marvel at how iPhone is truly a software-first device shouldn’t be surprised – Steve’s Apple has always been a software company first; they don’t make hardware because the margins are high, but because they need a certain kind of hardware to make the software vision a reality.
Amit – @akumar