1980 Steve Jobs Speech Shows Early User Experience Focus

The Computer History Museum of Mountain View, California, has published a video of a speech given by the late Steve Jobs in 1980. The speech, which was filmed by just a single camera, shows that even then the 25 year old was highly focused on the user experience.

Steve Jobs in 1980

Frame from Steve Jobs Speech in 1980

The video was donated to the Computer History Museum by Regis McKenna, the public relations maestro who worked with Steve Jobs throughout his career in the areas of marketing and public relations.

Most of the semi-prepared segment of the presentation talks a lot about general computer industry in its early days. He talks about why and how the Apple I was created, and how amazing it was that almost every Apple employee had an Apple computer on their desk. This was, according to Mr. Jobs, representative of a sea change in the way computers were changing the world.

The question and answer portion of the presentation includes a quip about choosing the name Apple because it would be listed in the phone book before “Atari,” and because he liked apples.

When asked to talk about how Apple intends to harness the power of Apple’s hardware, about which Mr. Jobs had bragged earlier in the presentation, he said, “Well, you’re asking me to talk about future products, and I don’t want to do that.”

In that regards, the speech is illustration of how the more things change, the more they stay the same. After Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997, the company strongly embraced the philosophy so glibly expressed by Mr. Jobs 17 years earlier.

He also spoke about the importance of hardware and software integration, and said that as technology progressed, what used to be a feature of hardware eventually turned into a feature of software, something that has certainly remained true to this day.

The last thing we noted came late in the video, when Mr. Jobs said that he didn’t think Apple’s future products, which would include Lisa and the Mac, would make people want to get rid of their Apple II computers.

As it turned out, Mr. Jobs came to believe quite strongly just a couple of years later that the graphical user interface Apple developed made the command line interface of the Apple II and every other commercial computer as obsolete as the horse and buggy.

The full video runs 23 minutes. There is much more content available in the Steve Jobs content currently being offered by the Computer History Museum.

Thanks to Michael B. Johnson for noting the video in a tweet.