In 1985, Steve Jobs made these eerily accurate predictions about the future of tech

“Over 30 years ago, Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs was still having to explain how computers would be useful to regular people,” Ali Montag reports for CNBC. “‘A computer is the most incredible tool we’ve ever seen. It can be a writing tool, a communications center, a supercalculator, a planner, a filer and an artistic instrument all in one, just by being given new instructions, or software, to work from,’ Jobs said to Playboy in a 1985 interview.”

“At that time, computers were expensive and difficult to use,” Montag reports. “Jobs, however, had a vision for what they may someday become.”

Here are three predictions he made in 1985 that he got right, and one he got wrong:

1. Computers will be used at home, for fun: “Computers will be essential in most homes,” Jobs predicted.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
2. We will use computers to interact with each other: “The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network,” Jobs said.

3. Computers will have a mouse: “It’s much faster to do all kinds of functions, such as cutting and pasting, with a mouse, so it’s not only easier to use but more efficient,” Jobs said.

4. Software will be competitive, while hardware will be monopolized: “In terms of supplying the computer itself, it’s coming down to Apple and IBM,” Jobs told Playboy. “And I don’t think there are going to be a lot of third- and fourth-place companies, much less sixth- or seventh-place companies. Most of the new, innovative companies are focusing on the software. I think there will be lots of innovation in the areas of software but not in hardware.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Jobs was actually right on #4, but perhaps he thought the law would protect the innovator better than it obviously has managed to do.

Most of the innovation in modern computing from the Mac to iPod to iPhone to iPad to Apple Watch have come from one company: Apple. The rest (Windows PCs, Zunes et al., Android phones, Android and Windows tablets, also-ran stupidwatches) are just bad knockoffs of Apple’s innovations. In effect, there’s just one paradigm-shifting hardware innovator: Apple.

As Jobs also corrected predicted: Most of the new, innovative companies are focusing on the software.


    1. 1-yet he did not support or like the idea of gaming on Apple computers.
      2-that was already happening… through likes of Compuserve and Source .
      3- Microsoft released Microsoft PC mouse and mouse version of word in 1983 … Macintosh 128K (which included an updated version of the Lisa Mouse) in 1984, and of the Amiga 1000 and the Atari ST in 1985. ……..So mouse was well on its way by 1985.

      4 – did Not turn out to be true …. hardware commoditized in some sense, yes.. monopolized no where near.
      Inovation in software only.. Nope…. we have inovation in both software and hardware… hec.. what are iPhone, or Applewatch… ipads… etc..

      But here is where his genius was….
      His charisma and eloquence and salesmanship … made him sound like an Oracle …and sold everything…. true or false…..

      An example:
      When iphone came out.. his punch line of “your finger is the best pointing device ” caught on Big.
      Later the larger ipads were released…. ….then competition started releasing smaller tablets which Apple did not have in their linup.

      When asked about the smaller tablets Steve Jobs comment was : small tablets are dead on arrival….. wont work… unless on takes a chisel and tapers off ones finger tips! He said that on stage and everyone was yes yes.. ofcourse ..
      Yet while Steve thought finger tips have to be chiseled down for a small tablet…. there was no issue of finger tips on a much smaller device, the iPhone.
      Power of charisma, and salesmanship.

      Or the Antenagate. U are holding it wrong… and he got away with it somewhat…. etc etc.

      Yes he was brilliant in manyways… but he was not an Omnipotent Devine entity as some make him out to be.
      He was a human. , with many flaws and many talents…..cheery picking one of his best… charisma as a god given gift.. focus and relentless ambition among others.


      1. 1 We do a lot of fun things with computers that aren’t gaming.
        2 A proprietary BBS connecting mostly businesses is nothing like todays internet.
        3 Mice were just weird toys until standardised, successful GUI based OSes existed. (Windows 1 was still 10 months away and not successful til 3.0 in 1990)
        4 depends on the angle your looking at. Today there is basically 2 processors and only one architecture for computer hardware. Imagine if 99% of cars had a ford or chevy engine, 2 bolt patterns for wheels, and all transmissions were interchangeable.

      2. SANDPAPER!!! 🙂 I just spent a few minutes looking for the quote including the word chisel 🙂 And, I don’t know, I’d have to count the number of 7 inch devices out there now, but I do think they make up a fairly small part of the market. And Google just effectively gave up on android’s tablet UI.

    1. Just because you are blind and thus cannot effectively use a mouse does not mean sighted people are so affected.

      In this case the one eyed man truly is the kind of the blind, while the blind simply cannot see. Simple as that.

      1. More corny than blasphemous, but I think the jury is still out on the value of the iPhone (and smartphones in general). I see a lot of social atomization and retardation. Perhaps the iPhone is just a symptom of that, but it wouldn’t be hard to collect the data and find out what most of the zombies are actually using them for. Probably like on computers: porn, games, brainwashing “news”, mindless chatter. Artistic, intellectual and other creative pursuits (even straightforward business activities) probably don’t make up 1% of what smartphones are used for on a regular basis. It’s too bad that SJ’s apparent understanding that his kids shouldn’t be spending too much time on these devices wasn’t publicly shared in a meaningful way.

        1. I work in two high schools for a school system.

          “I see a lot of social atomization and retardation.”

          Over time, this will show itself to be a bigger problem than opiods. I see the evidence every day.

  1. I coincidentally re-read this long form interview in the past couple of weeks and sent it to someone else to read. I think Steve was often accused of manipulating the media and the industry — and I suppose he did at times — but in retrospect watching his keynotes, interviews, etc. I am struck by how truly honest and articulate he was. It’s like he was telling anyone who wanted to listen exactly how it would all go down. And then he went about the work of making it happen. Such a loss, but such a legacy.

    1. “I am struck by how truly honest and articulate he was. It’s like he was telling anyone who wanted to listen exactly how it would all go down.”

      Beautiful and exactly right. Sigh …

    2. Absolutely. What he had and how he understood technology and people left Silicon Valley with him, and it will likely never be the same without him. As vibrant as Apple is today, it pales in comparison to the excitement and uniqueness of it during the entirety of Jobs’ presence.

      1. “ As vibrant as Apple is today, it pales in comparison to the excitement and uniqueness of it during the entirety of Jobs’ presence.”

        Not sure “vibrant” is the right word, but certainly cash cow.

        And yes, we all know it too well, Cook is as appealing as wet plywood and inspires nothing.

        To be fair, Jobs was the master and no one to date has stepped up to the plate. …

  2. Snark ahead:
    Read ‘The Road Ahead’ by Bill Gates and count his accurate predictions. Oops, you can’t because he didn’t have any. He was either totally off the mark or he was chattering about stuff that already existed.

    1. Well the list above does bot qualify as prediction either…
      Check my post above …..

      Its good to be objective imo! Despite loving Apple and SJ and SW

      1. Yup. It’s useful to note that in 1985 Apple were already selling Macs with mice. The “Internet” also already existed, albeit in the form of ARPANET. There were also already bulletin boards, email, Usenet and hyperlinking. The roots of the actual World Wide Web, however, were still miniscule.

        √ Point taken.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.