Before cellular networks could even come close to providing high speed data. Before Color LCD and OLED screens were even close to being usable, much less common. Before touch screens were viable… Apple already had an idea of how these technologies would come together and change computing.
Considering the fine gadgets they’ve provided us with today, some people might not find this so amazing. But the interesting twist is this vision wasn’t dreamed up by Steve Jobs.
The year was 1987, and Jobs had actually been ousted by his own corporate board at Apple. At the helm was John Sculley, an individual Jobs had recruited to Apple from PepsiCo, ultimately clashed with, and ended up losing a battle for control of the company to. Unfortunately, Sculley didn’t turn out to be the management wunderkind the board believed him to be: his reign started a dark era at Apple where internal politics, aimless development projects and screwed up product lines may have nearly sent the company into bankruptcy.
And talk about narcissism! If you think Steve Jobs is eccentric, consider that Sculley wrote an autobiography, then made Apple buy a copy for every employee, to promote “excellence.”
But, one concept he DID come up with in 1987, and should probably at least get a little bit of credit for, is this tablet-like device… with a touch screen, integrated video conferencing and messaging, and access to a vast network of data that allows a user to search and retrieve all kinds of information.
Unfortunately with Jobs gone, there was no “i” in Apple at the time, and so it lacked a catchy name. Instead, this concept had the very un-cool title “Knowledge Navigator.” And while no tech conpany could build it in 1987, Sculley figured it would be commonplace around 2010, and even produced a video to demonstrate what it might look like.
For the record: I’m actually glad that current technology didn’t quite evolve this way. I’d be totally annoyed if my iPhone had this priggish, smug bowtied “assistant” constantly nagging me about my appointments and phone calls. And I also noticed something… the professor keeps this thing on his desk, and the thought never crosses his mind that this highly compact device can be picked up and taken with him. I guess nobody’s perfect.