Steve Jobs predicted iPad in 1984 Mac rollout

by David Needle

January 27 2014

Steve Jobs introduces the Mac during a 1984 meeting of the Boston Computer Society (Photo: Computer History Museum)
Steve Jobs introduces the Mac during a 1984 meeting of the Boston Computer Society (Photo: Computer History Museum)

A rare video has surfaced of the first public showing of the Macintosh 30 years ago (and it's not the one you may have already seen).

The official rollout of the Mac 30 years ago was celebrated this weekend and the video of the official unveilling at an Apple-sponsored event in Silicon Valley has been widely available on the Web for years.

A short time later though, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and members of the original Mac development team travelled east to show off their new creation to a meeting of the then highly influential Boston Computer Society. Time Inc's Harry McCracken got a hold of the video and posted it as part of a retrospective piece on the Mac.

No turtleneck and jeans back then. Wearing a suit and tie, Jobs put the Mac through its paces on stage and then joined other members of the team to take questions from audience.

Asked whether he thought the 3 1/2-inch floppy drive was a “handicap” in a 5 1/4-inch disk world (used by most computers at the time), Jobs said absolutely not. He noted the 3 1/2-inch disk created by Sony was much sturdier than the 5 1/4 floppy and “will allow us to build smaller and smaller products with it.”

Later, he predicted a product that for all intents and purposes might be viewed as what became the iPad 16 years later.

In answering a question about when color would come the Mac (the original was black and white) he said high res color was too expensive and that “some day we hope to put Macintosh technology in a book with flat panel technology that will almost certainly be monochromatic.”

He no doubt thought the technology to let Apple do an affordable ebook or tablet would come sooner than it did, though he was also forced out of the company less than two years after the Mac was introduced, so it’s hard to say what he might have done in this area. Microsoft actually pioneered tablet PCs at the turn of the century, but those were heavy and expensive and only appealed to niche markets.

David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley
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