A few weeks ago, we posted the video above to show how Apple saw Siri and the iPad coming back in 1987. We didn’t tell the story behind the video though, which is equally fascinating.
Back in 1986, Apple CEO John Sculley had a conversation with Apple Fellow Alan Kay, the revolutionary American computer scientist who coined the phrase “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Kay pointed out to Sculley that almost all of Apple’s profits at the time came from the 512K Macintosh, Aldus PageMaker, Adobe’s Postscript and Apple’s LaserWriter 2.0 printer… all inventions that were lifted from Xerox PARC.
Then Kay said something chilling. “Next time, we won’t have Xerox.” Unless Apple started incubating its own great new ideas, the company would stagnate and wouldn’t have any new products down the road.
The result of Kay’s challenge to Sculley was this 1987 conceptual video of the Knowledge Navigator.
The idea was to embrace the adage that great ideas take twenty years from first inspiration to be ready for the consumer market, so the video imagines an Apple computer in 2009.
Except it’s not a computer. The Knowledge Navigator is actually an iPad. And in fact, while the design is clunky, the feature set is almost identical to what we’ll be seeing next year in the iPad 3, and many of the Knowledge Navigator’s functions seem like evolutionary ancestors to Siri, iCloud and more.
The iPad, of course, turned out to be a lot better than the Knowledge Navigator, and not just because it doesn’t come with a snooty virtual bow tie butler to lame things up. What’s so amazing, though, is that even without Steve Jobs, Apple was able to correctly anticipate the product they’d release in 2009. Well, okay… they were a little off. Can’t get ‘em all right.
You can read more about the Knowledge Navigator over at Forbes.