While surfing for D&D map-making tutorials (seriously) on YouTube, I stumbled across this amazing 1981 interview of then-Apple Chairman Steve Jobs. It was on Nightline, a long-running late-night news show by Ted Koppel, and what struck me was that Steve Jobs, at the tender age of 26, had his &^#% together in ways most of us never do. I know that when I was 26, I was a pompous smartass who thought he had all the answers. Steve Jobs probably thought the same thing, but unlike me, he could largely back it up.
The interview was part of a story on the growing presence of “computers” in our daily lives. And while the piece focused on the power of Big Iron at the corporate and government level, Steve Jobs was there in his role as head of the biggest personal computer maker (at that time).
Not surprisingly, he rose to the occasion, answering Ted Koppel’s questions with aplomb, and logically countering the crazy-haired guy (writer David Burnham) who was also a guest warning us about the dangers of computers. Steve Jobs’s involvement with the piece included a pre-taped interview, where he talked about Apple ][ computers being “the bicycle for the mind,” in addition to a live interview.
In the live interview, he talks about how computers democratize information and augment humanity’s abilities. He also said computer literacy was the best way to combat any potential threat computers represented. Perhaps most interestingly, Mr. Jobs talked about how kids took to computers in ways adults don’t. That’s a theme that’s playing out all over again right now regarding the role of touch interface devices and mobile computing.
In other words, the more things chance, the more they stay the same. Though one thing that has changed is how two people, brought on to a news show because they had opposing views, were able to agree on something, namely that computer literacy was a good thing. In today’s hyper-partisan environment, that’s rare.
Steve Jobs’s pre-taped interview starts at 4 minutes and 21 seconds. His live interview starts at 5 minutes and 42 seconds.