I saw today that you were listed in the millennium top 100 in Silicon
Valley Magazine, that's cool. In my 10th grade history class we watched
a copy of the A&E top 100 people of the millennium, I saw many people
on there who help revolutionize the world, but I noticed you were not
on there. It made me think a little, why would the guy who invented the
printing press be the number 1, most important person of the last millennium,
but the guy who played a major, if not most important, role in the personal
computer revaluation was not on at all. This got me a little mad because
here they had Bill Gates on, a man who no doubt also played a role in
the pc revolution, but really just bought his DOS os off of some guy,
and basically just designed a programming language for a computer with
a bunch of lights, and switches, which I find very uninteresting. Don't
get me wrong I don't want to downplay his importance, but to have him
on and not you, that seems to me a bit absurd. So when our teacher gave
us the opportunity to do a report on who we thought to be the most important
person was for this millennium, I did my report on you because I figured
I find interest in computers more than anything else, and this would not
be so if it were not for you.
Your thinking is right
on. Today computers are the BIG thing and the business is always front
page news. So the current leaders of the companies are the focus of the
media attention. They don't always remember to go back and see who did
the programming and used the soldering iron and made it really possible
in the early days. The businessmen are remembered more than the engineer.
But one magazine had me, the engineer, in the most 25 important of all
Interview from E-mail:
1) In the last five years the internet has changed
drastically how things are done in the consumer, entertainment and communications
markets. In your opinion, is internet more important as a consumer or
I'd lump other categories, including 'consumer' under 'social'. But you
probably mean is it more important as a social meeting and interacting
place or as a purchasing medium. That's like asking whether TV's are more
important than cars. They are both very important and can't be compared
as they are not either-or things. The internet is drastically changing
the ways that we do things forever and I can't compare buying to interacting
If in the future
you have to 'pay' (different rates for different portals) in order to
socialize then I might say that the social side is under the consumer.
2) Traditional communications media are slowly
migrating and adapting to a new reality of digital content via internet
and fast connections (broadband, MMDS, etc). How do you think this change
will effectively happen? What role is your company playing, and how is
it contributing to this change process?
In the near term the broadband solutions (cable modems, DSL) won't reach
everyone the way phone lines do. So the change will happen very rapidly,
as we can already see, due to it costing little and achieving very high
economic advantages. But that change will only reach a certain percentage
of the homes. Cable companies and ADSL lines won't reach places that have
far away homes, or tiny neighborhoods. I've had 4 homes and by chance
alone none of them had cable, even if it was a requirement for the developer
to run it. Also, none had a chance of ADSL due to distance from a central
Apple Computer are creating a better and better experience for those who
have broadband internet access. Also they are putting more and more essential
software and upgrades on the web. The more one uses the web, the greater
the need for broadband.
3) As a rule, most people don't understand how
profound will be the changes in their lives due to the digital world around
them; from banking accounts to classrooms, through videogames and online
shopping. What part of people's daily life do you think will undergo more
changes in the next few years?
There will be tradeoffs between how much of your own data (photos for
example) that you keep locally and how much on unseen servers 'out there'.
There will be tradeoffs between how much we want to do things the 'old
fashioned' way, visiting malls for example, and how much the new way where
we don't have to physically move much. It's hard to predict to what extent
people will want to go to school versus learning at home. It's like guessing
statistics of personalities and the like. This is much easier to do after
the fact. The thing that is very obvious is that a lot of people will
choose to live primarily on their computer terminal. They never had the
option in the past.
To what extent
will today's physical newspapers and magazines disappear. I think that
they are doomed. You don't buy a newspaper, you buy the access to stories.
Many people today can't see that youngsters adapt as well to the screen
as to paper, and get the information just fine. The adults don't adapt
well. We all grew up with paper. Books and libraries are still a big nut
to crack. I hope that the day arrives when we can read all books online,
for a price perhaps. Such changes are in some ways like movies. Theaters
are alive and doing quite well despite the more convenient tapes and cable.
They've held out a long time without offering us the chance to see top
movies at home as soon as they are out. This results in no way to easily
test whether theaters would largely disappear if not as unique.
4) Is there a project you're personally involved
in right now that you'd like to highlight due to its innovation or importance
for the next few years?
5) Due to technological
changes, what's your vision or dream about the future of humankind, 50
years from now?
I presume that they will still be as involved with rapid change as we
are now. Even when computers stop expanding rapidly due to Moore's Law,
bandwidth will still be growing wildly. I wonder what will happen if you
can have entire movies on a postage stamp sized device. Will everyone
have a CD with every movie ever made or some such thing? What will the
media be like?
One thing that
you can say is that there won't be many around that saw the 'before' only
those seeing the 'during' of this greatest of all communications revolutions.
Things that seem to strange to predict now will be very commonplace.
When I was active
in Apple in it's starting days, I could generally predict the next year
ahead, because we were working on it. But if I ever predicted 2 years
out, I was very wrong. Unexpected advances or different approaches that
could not have been predicted always came about. So I don't like predicting
specific things about the future. Some generalizations don't even take
much intelligence. When they come true, which is virtually guaranteed,
the people who were first noted for saying them are seen as inhumanly
bright with their foresight. But that's not exactly the right view.