Wozniak Could Only Predict a Year or Two Ahead in Technology

(p. 293) If you could easily predict the future, inventing things would be a lot easier! Predicting the future is difficult even if you’re involved with products that are guiding computers, the way we were at Apple.

When I was at Apple in the l970s and 1980s, we would always try to look ahead and see where things were going. It was actually easy to see a year or two ahead, because we were the ones building the products and had all these contacts at other companies. But beyond that, it was tough to see. The only thing we could absolutely rely upon had to do with Moore’s Law–the now-famous rule in electronics (named for Intel founder Gordon Moore) that says that every eighteen months you can pack twice the number of transistors on a chip.
That meant computers could keep getting smaller and cheaper. We saw that. But we had a hard time imagining what kinds of applications could take advantage of all this power. We didn’t expect high-speed modems. We didn’t expect computers to have large amounts of hard-disk storage built in. We didn’t see the Internet growing out of the ARPANET and becoming accessible to everyone. Or digital cameras. We didn’t see any of that. We really could only see what was right in front of us, a year or two out, max.

Wozniak, Steve, and Gina Smith. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006.

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