Steve Jobs on the Mac's 20th Anniversary

Do you have any general thoughts about the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh?

All I can say is, I think the Mac reinvented the personal-computer industry in the eighties, and Microsoft copied it in the nineties -- and that's been a big success for them, too. We finally got out ahead again with Mac OS X, and I think you'll see Microsoft copying that in the future.

Can you draw any parallels between what Apple was doing in creating the Mac back in 1984 and what you're doing today with the iPod and iTunes?

I feel Apple's in a really wonderful, innovative stage right now, where we're innovating in a lot of areas. I mean, I think Mac OS X is huge. I think that you're seeing us, with the Power Mac G5, being the most powerful personal computer out there. And we've got a lot more where that came from. We've got the best portables out there. And we have the iPod and the iTunes Music Store. And we have our iLife applications. We declared that we thought the next big thing for the personal computer was the digital hub three years ago, right?

Right. And now you see Microsoft, HP, and the rest—

Oh, everybody's copying it now. And we're quite a ways ahead of everybody. So I think Apple has had a good hand in setting the direction for the whole industry now, again. And that's where we like to be.

Apple's coverage in the mass media tends to focus on iTunes and the iPod, and of course they run on Windows as well. But the bulk of Apple's business is the Mac. And the Mac is still a major part of where Apple is going in the future.

Of course.

Do you have any other thoughts about where your competitors are taking their strategies? For example, Windows Media PCs are computers attached to TV sets.

Well, we've always been very clear on that. We don't think that televisions and personal computers are going to merge. We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.

Are there some complementary aspects to it?

Well, they want to link sometimes. Like, when you make a movie, you burn a DVD and you take it to your DVD player. Someday that could happen over AirPort, so you don't have to burn a DVD -- you can just watch it right off your computer on your television set. But most of these products that have said, "Let's combine the television and the computer!” have failed. All of them have failed.

I don't understand why you'd want to mouse around on your TV set.

The problem is, when you're using your computer you're a foot away from it, you know? When you're using your television you want to be ten feet away from it. So they're really different animals.

Over the years, the media and analysts have always focused on market share. But although Mac market share is relatively small, Apple is profitable and is making products that affect the entire industry.

Apple's market share is bigger than BMW's or Mercedes's or Porsche's in the automotive market. What's wrong with being BMW or Mercedes?

So you're very comfortable with Apple as it is today.

I think we're having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we're always trying to do better. But I think we're leading the industry and we're having a good time.

...And Then

This essay by Steve Jobs originally appeared on page 135 of the premier issue of Macworld, in 1984. The Apple cofounder was one of numerous Apple employees to contribute to the first issue.

The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay. I can't spend enough time here, unfortunately, because I have other responsibilities. But every spare moment I have, I dash back because this is the most fun place in the world.

This is the neatest group of people I've ever worked with. They're all exceptionally bright, but more importantly they share a quality about the way they look at life, which is that the journey is the reward. They really want to see this product out in the world. It's more important than their personal lives right now.

The Apple II had a magical feel about it. You couldn't quantify it, but you could tell. The Macintosh is the second thing in my life that's ever felt that way. Opportunities like this don't come along very often. You know somehow that it's the start of something great. So everyone wants it to be perfect and works really hard on it. Everyone feels a personal responsibility for the product.

The Macintosh is the future of Apple Computer. And it's being done by a bunch of people who are incredibly talented but who in most organizations would be working three levels below the impact of the decisions they're making in the organization. It's one of those things that you know won't last forever. The group might stay together maybe for one more iteration of the product, and then they'll go their separate ways. For a very special moment, all of us have come together to make this new product. We feel this may be the best thing we'll ever do with our lives.

Also see what seven Mac visionaries think about 20 years of the Mac.

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