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1/ "When we invented the personal computer, we created a new kind of bicycle…a new man-machine partnership…a new generation of entrepreneurs." —Steve Jobs, c. 1980

Such a remarkable quote and articulation. Some history and innovation, rockets, privacy, ease of use, h/w <> s/w Poster of apple bicycle (Picasso)
2/ Searching for this quote one finds a fascinating presentation by Steve Jobs sometimes 1980. In this video we see early days of the bicycle quote (Apple ][ is ~3 years old).
3/ In particular, Jobs references a Scientific American article. A study of efficiency of motion of various animal species. He recalls in the article that the condor was the most efficient, and humans way down the list until using a bike—efficiency in kcal/kg "or something".
4/ The article is from March 1973 of Scientific American. A detailed look at the history of the bicycle. The chart that was so fascinating is here. You can see just how efficient a human on a bicycle is. No condor though :-) Chart comparing humans on bike to varioius animals. humans super efficient.
5/ The remainder of the video 4 super interesting comments that essentially lay out a roadmap for decades.

The motivation for thread was simply how fascinating these points are today, 40 years later.

Reminder, Microsoft revenue from BASIC, etc. ~7M, 40 FTE, SteveB joined.
6/ At 9:15 he talks about how buying a computer is also buying a big problem. Before it can be used you need to learn how to program it (literally in 1980 you programmed a computer if you bought one). Apple wants to solve that problem. Making computing accessible is a core value.
7/ "Our whole company our whole philosophical base is founded on one principle and that one principle is that there's something very special and very historically different that takes place when you have one computer and one person"

The personal in PC.
8/ At 12:45 he says something few were thinking about which is "we're going to start chewing up power specifically to help that one on one interaction go smoother and specifically not to actually do the number crunching and the database management and the word processing."
9/ PCs were so under-powered relative to the software at the time, no one was considering doing anything but handling bigger spreadsheets, more records, or more pages in a word processor.

Trying to do ease of use made everything slow. Big tradeoff in memory at this time.
10/ At 18:00 Apple *was* a h/w Co, now over half s/w eng, "more and more software is getting integrated into the hardware—yesterday's software is today's hardware so those two things are merging I think and the line between hardware and software is going to get finer and finer"
11/ Four rather profound points:
• make PCs easy to use
• one PC per person beats a computer for 10 people
• use increasing power to make PCs easier to use not compute more
• there is no seam between hardware and software
12/ This is all very interesting. But where did it go from here? I guess Steve liked this analogy. Pretty soon Apple was using it in advertising. The legend is that there was a two page ad in SciAm (in Hertzfeld book) but I couldn't find it in back issues. Here's April 1980 WSJ. WSJ add
13/ In early 1981, Jef Raskin the leader/initiator of Macintosh took a leave of absence. Jobs felt Macintosh was just a codename and then insisted on calling the project "Bicycle" for the duration. This from Hertzfeld's book/folklore.org Description of the Macintosh code name and trying to use Bicycle as code name but it did not stick.
14/ Then on April 10, 1981 the Space Shuttle was supposed to launch (whoa, that was a sharp turn). Launch scrubbed because of computer issue—voting computers deadlocked. It was crazy. Tech paper "Bug Heard Round the World" JohnR.Garman detailed issues. www5.in.tum.de/~huckle/space_… Abstract from paper linked.
15/ That night, on ABC News Nightline show was on computing. Featured 26 year old Steve Jobs. It is tough to believe that he was booked to support a freak out over the shuttle but I don't know. There were 4 interesting parts of the show.
16/ BTW, Nightline was just a year old and had quickly become *the* evening show but was head to head with new Letterman. This is super cool—just seeing him on screen like this. It was the height of being newsworthy. Jobs on set in the background with anchor up front.
17/ Some context. In the full year 1980 about 725,000 personal computers were sold:
• 225K TRS-80
• 200K Atari
• 78K Apple ][
• rest "other"!!!
The Osborne shipped just as Nightline was airing. We got one!
1981 would see 1.4M PCs, incl 35K IBM PC launched in August
18/ First segment details all the wonders of computerization (Bettina Gregory reporting): grocery scanning, airline reservations, new DC metro subway, modern medicine. Even TV—went to ABC archives to show an index search of video (just an index of tapes). Many green screens. Man at mainframe computer.
19/ "Computers are such a part of life that many people believe computers don't invade their privacy…life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is inevitably linked to a computer."

How's that for east coast optimism?
20/ Ken Kashiwahara then reports "Computers are being welcomed in schools, work, and homes without any mention of invasion of privacy" and discusses all the popular home uses.

Jobs adds "This is a 21s century bicycle." and impact on society will be bigger than petrochemicals. Jobs at his desk.
21/ Now Steve Jobs live. This is where he repeated bicycle of the mind to questions about personal computers from Ted Koppel. The segment kicked off with a nod to the computer problems with STS, but broadened to computers in society.
22/ Jobs points out that the shuttle only proves the importance of computers—"the computers were as important as the thrusters" when asked about the fragility/reliance on computers.

"Computers amplified a human ability."
23/ Jobs then goes on to discuss the democratization of computing. When asked about being too dependent, he describes the difference between centralized computing and the PC. Then he is back to SciAm and the Condor. PCs free humans to be creative and work at conceptual level. Scientific American cover with bicycle.
24/ Then a second guest, David Burnham, an award winning journalist (his stories led to "Serpico" and "Silkwood"!). He is very skeptical of computers.

This is how Nightline worked, and almost always featured New York or DC-based journalists.
25/ Burnham picks up on Jobs line of computers amplifying humans "Computers were used by the Census Bureau to locate Japanese Americans for internment." (true and horrible)
26/ At 8:50 Koppel then ponders if computers are inherently bad or it is people using them. Jobs pivots to computers in schools—97% of students in Minnesota are gaining computer literacy in school.
27/ Burham discusses the need for public awareness. He subsequently wrote the book "The Rise of the Computer State" the threat to our privacy, legal procedures, and the democratic process, providing clear evidence of the present and probable dangers of computer technology. book cover
28/ These all came together in a Jobs authored essay in July 1981 in a magazine called "COMPUTERS and PEOPLE" which was the OG computer mag, started in *1951* devoted to the diversity of hardware and appreciation for computers in society. When We Invented the Personal Computer article title.
29/ The essay "When We Invented the Personal Computer…" starts with the bicycle quote. It is based on an interview and subsequent full page ads. Was it the first video or the Nightline segment I can't discern. The essay had 8 questions: 8 questions as discussed below.
30/ What is the difference between a PC and other computers? Amazingly, even in 1981 he was on the verge of making the "PCs are trucks" analogy. He likens mainframes to trains and PCs to Volkswagens 💻 v 🚗 (or 🚚) Discussion of PC versus VW
31/ How does a PC increase productivity? Jobs uses another early metaphor "Computers are tools, not toys." Why does he say this? Because businesses were calling them toys! Why? Because people talked about games, storing recipes, and so on. PCs are not toys. B y the way, please DM me if you would like the scanned PDF unfortunately it is not OCRed.
32/ What about 10 years from now? Apple loved EDU (Mac launched w/ universities in 1984). He cites what is going in in Minnesota. Then of course my favorite, PCs are in 1 of 100 households and by end of 80's it will be 1 in 10 (it was 15% and 21.5M PCs sold, not yet every home).
33/ What about the role of Apple with entrepreneurs? Jobs discusses the role of the software platform and economics available all on the modest capital investment of less than $5000 for an Apple ][. Business of making software and selling it.
34/ Finally, how will apple maintain its leadership? Here again we can see the modern apple—"Apple's continuing success and leadership position will result from innovation, not duplication. Innovation in products, marketing, as well as in distribution." Love the 4 P's in use 🙌 Innovation
35/ And we see the long term view of ease of use and using the power of the computer to make things easier to use. No one was really saying that yet in any deep way. Power was the vocabulary in vogue.
36/ The publisher / editor of COMPUTERS and PEOPLE puts an awesome note at the end, reminding readers that more than 100 computer dealers offer PCs and service. He was a hard core believer in diversity. Already 30 years of publishing this magazine. Over 100 makers of computers.
37/ So that was a tour through the "Bicycle of the mind". I learned a lot and hope this was interesting. // END
PS/ Communications of the ACM had a detailed overview of the Space Shuttle computer systems in 1984 by Spector & Gifford. I *loved* this article being from Florida and a CS major. We talked about it in OS class. Here's the link. pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d065/4a9cea75a… abstract
PPS/ ‘Bicycle of the Mind’ medium.com/p/bicycle-1212… // Unrolled and annotated thread here including additional historical context and data. 🙏
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