Jony Ive talks his first experience with a Mac and more

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Jony Ive
Jony Ive recently spoke at the Cambridge Union.
Screenshot: Vanity Fair/YouTube

Sir Jony Ive — the first recipient of the Stephen Hawking Fellowship — delivered a lecture at the Cambridge Union, the University of Cambridge’s debate society, earlier this week.

Ive reflected on everything from his earliest experiences with Apple devices to the philosophical challenges of design.

Ive discussed his earliest days as an Apple user, long before he joined the company. “With the Mac, in 1988, I think I learned two things,” he said. “Firstly, I could actually use it. I loved using it and it became a very powerful tool that helped me design and create. Secondly, and I think this is in some ways a rather embarrassing admission because this was at the end of four years of studying design, I realized that what you make represents who you are.”

Ive said that the “obvious humanity and care” that went into the Mac eventually drove him to move to California in 1992 to join Apple.

Ive also made an interesting (and very Apple) point about how technology should be accessible to users. “When we struggle with technology, we assume the issue is actually with us,” he noted. “If you eat something that tastes dreadful, you don’t assume that the issue is with you.”

The origins of the App Store

In addition, he shared a story about the origin of the App Store:

“This was a project that we came to describe as multi-touch. Some of you may remember the first time you experienced the interface. Perhaps it was on one of the first iPhones or later on an iPad. But multi-touch describes the ability to directly touch and interact with your content to be able to pinch to zoom an image or flick through a list with your fingers.

Importantly, it defined an opportunity to create applications with their own unique, very specific interface. So, not being generic but being specific inherently describes the application’s function. We came to see that we could make applications purposeful, compelling and intuitive to use. And so, as the potential for a vast range of apps became clear, so did the idea for an app store.”

There’s plenty more Ive discussed during the talk. A more thorough write-up can be found here, courtesy of the Independent newspaper. It’s well worth a read, particularly if you enjoy Ive’s more philosophical thoughts regarding the nature of design.

Hopefully a full version of the talk will be available to watch online in the near future.