With the invention of the Macintosh in 1984, Steve Jobs commercialized modern graphical computing. But he oversaw another invention from that era that was just as brilliant but no one mentions these days.
Says ex-Apple CEO John Sculley:
What I’ve learned in high tech is that there’s a very, very thin line between success and failure. It’s an industry where you are constantly taking risks, particularly if you’re a company like Apple, which is constantly living out on the edge.
Your chance of being on one side of that line or the other side of the line is about equal. Sometimes… he was wrong tactically on a number of things. He wouldn’t put a hard drive in the Macintosh. When someone asked him about communications, he just threw a little disk across the room and said, “That’s all we’ll ever need.” On the other hand, Steve led the development of what was called AppleTalk and AppleLink. AppleTalk was the communications that enabled the Macintosh to communicate to the laser printer that enabled… desktop publishing.
AppleTalk was brilliant in its day. It was as brilliant as the Macintosh. It was another example of using a minimalist approach and solving a problem that no one else thought was a problem that needed to be solved. Steve was solving problems back in the 80s that turned out 15, 20 years later to be exactly the right problems to be working on. The challenge was we were decades away from when the technology would be homogenized enough and powerful enough to be able to make all those things mass market. He was just, in many cases, he was way ahead of his time.