Steve Jobs talks about remote computing at WWDC 1997 [Blast from the past]

Almost 15 years ago, in a rare WWDC 1997 Q&A session, Steve Jobs talks about thin clients, the dangers of being too proprietary, not dating Larry Ellison, if Apple could ever compete with Microsoft and Intel, and having his home directory everywhere.

I have computers at Apple, at Pixar, at NeXT and at home. I walk over to any of them and log in as myself. It goes over the network, finds my home directory on the server and I’ve got my stuff, where ever I am. And none of that is on a local disc. The server…is my local disc.”

Video after the break. Interesting in light of what we might see on Monday, no?

[The Tech Bench via 52Tiger]

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector and Isometric podcasts, follow her on Twitter @Georgia_Dow and check out her series at

  • Cursin' at the conference! NICE! Steve was a whipper snapper!
  • umm didnt see the video
    but sounded to me like u just describe google ichrome
    ,, so i guess google is imitating apple
    . oh wait im not so shocked
  • Wow, great video. It's very inspiring. It's vision has never changed all these years and served him very well. Pretty much everything he said happened (esp. regarding the integrated strategy).
    Thanks for sharing.
  • Is it just me or does this seem the perfect setup for the last ten years of Apple? In every answer I can see the path he thinks Apple should take. And when it comes to him talking about not doing tv advertisements at the time of this conference, I have to laugh because today I think they have some of the best. (including the '84 ad)
  • It'd be great if this video worked on iOS. Or am I missing something?
  • It works fine on the iPad, but doesn't seem to work on my iPhone 4. Weird, as it's just a YouTube video.
  • A truly awesome video, Georgia.
    It would've been easy, at the time, to think that Steve was saying the right things, but it must've been nigh on impossible to envisage how Apple would become relevant again.
    Remember, at that time(1997), Apple really was irrelevant, for everyone, bar the true die-hard fans, and this was at the worst time possible.
    They were nowhere, just as internet-enabled computers became ubiquitous items, and when 3D graphics cards on the PC really began pushing the PC technology forward, in the eyes of the average concumer.
    With the benefit of hindsight, it's tremendously encouraging to see, that everything that's happened over the last 10-12 years, was(more or less) down to a cohesive strategy. His explanation of the marketing strategy and these quotes in particular, REALLY struck a chord:
    "You've got to start with the customer experience, and work BACKWARDS to the technology."
    "We should start with: "What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?"
    "It's not about starting with: "Let's sit down with the engineers, work out what awesome tech we have, and how we're gonna market that."
  • Worked fine on my 3GS.
  • A few of thoughts on the video. Jobs is pretty damn amazing at Q&A. It's quite hard to provide impromptu cogent answers, to just talk about something for 2, 3, 4, 5 straight minutes. He did all that on the spot. Quite impressive. He kept to the company line about cloning, which was that it was still around, it's just that cloners wouldn't be able to use Apple hardware designs anymore and that licensing fees would be progressive. In another month, Amelio would be canned and Jobs inserted as interim CEO. The thoughts on Newton were quite interesting. It took him 10 years to get from the Newton to the iPhone. Yes, ChromeOS and Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are not new ideas. They are as old as computing. Is it just me, or are nerds a lot hipper these days?
  • Most tech company CEO's have no roadmap for they're gonna be doing this 6 months from now. This video proves what a visionary Jobs is.
    I get the feeling, that iCloud is the culmination of the thinking in this video - his last box that had to be ticked, making it easier to hand the reins over to Tim Cook.