Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles what is it about this machine? Why is this machine so interesting? Why has it been so influential? Ah ahm, I'll give you my point of view on it. I remember reading a magazine article a long time ago ah when I was ah twelve years ago maybe, in I think it was Scientific American. I'm not sure. And the article ahm proposed to measure the efficiency of locomotion for ah lots of species on planet earth to see which species was the most efficient at getting from point A to point B. Ah and they measured the killer calories that each one expended. So ah they ranked them all and I remember that ahm...ah the Condor, Condor was the most efficient at [CLEARS THROAT] getting from point A to point B. And humankind, the crown of creation came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list. So ah that didn't look so great. But ah, let me do this over again. I remember ah reading an article when I was about twelve years old. I think it might have been Scientific American where they measured the efficiency of locomotion of all these species on planet earth. How many killer calories did they expend to get from point A to point B? And the Condor came in at the top of the list ah surpassed everything else. And humans came in about a third of the way down the list which was not such a great showing for the crown of creation. And ah but somebody there had the imagination to test the efficiency of a human riding a bicycle. A human riding a bicycle blew away the Condor all the way off the top of the list. And it made a really big impression on me that we humans are tool builders. And that we can fashion tools that amplify these inherent abilities that we have to spectacular magnitudes. And so for me, a computer has always been a bicycle of the mind. Ah something that takes us far beyond our inherent abilities. And ah I think we're just at the early stages of this tool. Very early stages. And we've come only a very short distance. And it's still in its formation, but already we've seen enormous changes. I think that's nothing compared to what's coming in the next hundred years. In program six we're going to look at some of the past predictions of why people have been so wrong about the future. And one of the notions is that today's vision of a standalone computer is just as limited as those past visions of it being only a number cruncher. What's the difference philosophically between a network machine and a standalone machine? Let me answer that question a slightly different way. There have been, if you look at why the majority of people have bought these things so far, ah there have been two real explosions that have propelled the industry forward. The first one ah really happened in 1977. And it was the spreadsheets. I remember when ah Dan Fylstra who ran the company that marketed the first spreadsheet, walked not my office at Apple one day and pulled out this disk from his vest pocket and said, "I...I have this incredible new program. I call it a visual calculator." And it became Visicalc. And that's what really drove, propelled the Apple to...to the success it achieved more than any other single event. And...and with ah the invention of Lotus 123, and I think it was 1982, that's what really propelled the IBM PC to the level of success that it achieved. So that was the first explosion was the spreadsheet. Ahm the second major explosion has driven our, the desktop industry has been desktop publishing. [MISC BACKGROUND] The...the second really bit explosion in our industry has been desktop publishing. Happened in 1985 with the Macintosh and the laser writer printer. And at that point people could start to do on their desktops things that only typesetters and printers could do prior to that. And that's been a very big revolution in publishing. And those are really, those two explosions have been the only two real major revolutions which have caused a lot of people to buy these things and use them. Ah the third one is starting to happen now. And the third one is let's do for human to human communication what spreadsheets did for financial planning and what public, desktop publishing did for publishing. Let's revolutionize it using these desktop devices. And we're already starting to see the signs of that. As an example in an organization, we're starting to see that as business conditions change faster and faster with each year, ah we cannot change our management hierarchical organization very fast relative to the changing business conditions. We can't have somebody working for a new boss every week. We also can't change our geographic organization very fast. As a matter of fact even slower than the management one. We can't be moving people around the country every week. But we can change an electronic organization like that. And what's starting to happen is as we start to link these computers together with sophisticated networks and great user interfaces, we're starting to be able to create clusters of people working on a common task in a s... you know literally in fifteen minutes worth of setup. And these fifteen people can work together extremely efficiently no matter where they are geographically. And no matter who they work for hierarchically. And these organizations can live for as long as they're needed and then vanish. And we're finding we can reorganize our companies electronically ah very rapidly. And that's the only type of organization that can begin to keep pace with the changing business conditions. 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 1985 we did personal computing. Ah and now we're going to extend that as we network these things to interpersonal computing. What was the image of the computer in the mid 196Os or whenever you first saw one? And where are we now? I ahm, I first saw my first computer when I was twelve. [MUMBLES] 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 9. And ah spent every spare moment I had trying to write programs I was so fascinated by this. Ah 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 ah so my point of view never really changed from being able to get my arms around it even though my arms didn't quite fit around that first one. What was the role, how have personal computers changed 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. How did the PC change the world? Well, though the analogy is nowhere perfect and certainly ah one needs to factor out the environmental concerns of the analogy as well. Ah there is a lot to be said for comparing it to going from trains, from passenger trains to automobiles. And ah 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 ahm 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 ah participate in ah the making of choices and controlling their own destiny using these tools. But it has created ah, it has created problems. And the largest problems are that ah 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, can rebuild a fabric of these things rather than just individual points of light if you will. And ahm get the benefit of both, the passenger train and the automobile. What's the vision behind the next machine? Everything that ah, that we've done in our [PAUSES] Everything I've done with computers in my life has been along pretty much a single vector. Ah and next is just one more point on that same vector. Ah in this case what we...we observed was that the computing power we could give to an individual was an order magnitude more than the PCs were given. In the sense that people want to do many things at once and you really need true multi tasking. We really did want to ahm start to network these things together in very sophisticated networks. So the technology to build that 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 ah fifty to a hundred of the best software people we could find building this new software system. And it's turned out beautifully. Ah what happens in our industry... [TAPE CUT] what's the vision behind NEXT? Ahm 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 ah 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 ah we...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 let's them, let us, let's us build them in 25 percent of the time that it normally takes to do on a PC. So ah we spent ahm 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...the height that these new applications can soar is...is enabled or limited by the platform 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. What happens when you have a network that allows the relative minorities in a whole different area come together. How does that change the democracy? I don't know. Okay. But...but what I have seen is I've seen interpersonal computing happening at our own company. Or maybe the best way to put it is ahm, I remember when the first spreadsheet came out. I saw it fly through Apple as well as other companies. And when we ah, when we invented desktop publishing of course it influenced Apple first. And I've seen the same thing happen with interpersonal computing here at NEXT. We decided to put a NEXT machine on every employee's desktop about 18 months ago and connect them with the very highspeed networking that's built in. And I've seen the revolution here with my own eyes. And it's it's actually larger than the first two. Let me give you some examples. Ah if we want to ah, if we're going to be doing a special project let's say with a company, and we. and let's say the company is called ahm, what's your... WGBH. WGBH. we're going to be doing a special project with WGBH. And what we'll do is we'll create a ah special mailbox, WGBH and we'll put twenty people on it that are going to be helping on this project. Now these twenty people will be from all over our company. From marketing, from sales, from engineering, some from manufacturing. Maybe some from our Boston office so they can be close by. And ah if one sends a message to this mailbox, [SNAPS FINGER] they'll all get it like that, instantly. And if ah one sends a reply they'll copy the whole mailbox so the rest of the team members get to read ah the intellectual content going back and forth. And everyone on this, in this mailbox will probably get around 30 mail messages a day. And they'll spend about twenty minutes, thirty minutes reading these and answering these per day. And it will be like a beehive. Now this project is very important for our company and I want to make sure it's getting off right. So I'll put my own name on this mailbox and l'll see these thirty mail messages fly by. All of the disagreements and the arguments and the thoughts and the decisions. And I can just let it fly by and read it. I can do some background coaching with a few people if I think they're a little off track. I can get right on the network and kibbutz if I'd like. And after a month or so when I know that it's going well I can take my name off. And so not only is this a way to organize violating all management and geographic boundaries, it's also a way to manage. Where one can see. Again the thoughts, disagreements and decisions of a company fly by a manager in a way that they never could before. And ah we have seen it reduce the number of meetings we have at least by fifty percent. we've seen it get far more managers and individual contributors involved in decisions than there ever were before. We think the quality of the decisions is a lot higher. And we've seen a window for management to look into the process of this organism we call our company in a way that has never before been possible. There was an article written by a guy by the name of . . . [END OF TAPE] As we become part of this electronically community ahm that's going to provide us wonderful new capabilities and ah communications abilities. But we still always want to be able to disconnect that network spigot, take it off, and take our standalone computer somewhere, let's say home. Now what's going to happen rapidly as with radio links and with fiber optics to the home, you're going to be able to hook your computer up to your network at home. Ah but there's always going to be that cabin in the middle of nowhere that I want to go for a two week vacation where I want my computer. And if it doesn't work in a completely standalone way, I'm I'm going to be no happy. So we have to provide a fluid way for these things to kind of dock into the mother load network, but also undock and allow me as an individual to carry my computer up into Yosemite backpacking. And where there's no radio links and no fiber optic links and still be able to use it and then come back and dock back into the network and find out what happened when I left and share some of my thoughts maybe with some other folks. So we're working on that. That's our goal for the next five years is that seamless transition between a standalone computer and the computer as part of this network community. It also keeps away the welling aspects of always being hooked into the network. That's right. I actually think what an interesting paradox is the network which is ultimately going to define and create the home computer market. Not keeping our recipes on these things or something like we thought in 1975. Ah being a part of that network and not being able to stay away from it while you're home will drive people to get computers in every house just like we have a telephone. But computers then then won't be just computers. They'll be radios, and stereos, and TVs. No I think, I think they'll be just computers. Just like your phone isn't your television set. Just like your toaster isn't your radio. I think they'll be computers and they'll have many of the capabilities of these other devices. Ahm multimedia, the ability to integrate sound and video in with the computer is absolutely coming. But a lot of people have mistaken it as the end rather than the means. Ah we see multi media as more of a means. In other words, people aren't going to buy a computer for multi media. They're going to buy it for training. Or they're going to buy it for interpersonal communication. And in that communication, in addition to a text, they're going to want voice. They're going to want, potentially I might want to send you a videoclip. But the real market is to help us communicate better, or to help us train somebody. And ah we need to not lose sight of that. I want to get your thoughts on the user interface stuff. And I'd like to look at the transition ah Xerox to Apple. when did you hear, what was the image of Xerox PARC and what was it like when you first went in there? Ahm well Xerox PARC was a...a research lab set up by Xerox when they were making a lot of profits in copier days. And ah they were doing some computer science research which was basically an extension of some stuff started by a guy named Doug Engelbart when he was at SRI. Doug had invented the mouse, and invented the BIP map display. And some Xerox folks that...that Xerox ah I believe hired away from Doug or split off from Doug somehow and got to Xerox, were continuing along in this vain. And I first went over there in 1979 and I saw what they were doing with ah the larger screens, ah proportionately spaced texts ah and the mouse. And it was just instantly obvious to anyone that this was the way things should be. Ahm and so I remember coming back to Apple thinking our...our future has just changed. This is where we have to go.