Aspen ﬁgures into Steve Jobs’ legacy
Ryan Summerlin October 5, 2012
ASPEN – Today marks the first anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs, and the brainy innovator’s visit to Aspen nearly 30 years ago is being hailed for its historical significance – and for being indicative of the Apple Inc. co-founder’s vision.
On Tuesday, Marcel Brown, of Edwardsville, Ill., posted online a recording of Jobs’ presentation in June 1983 at the International Design Conference in Aspen, where the theme was “The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be.”
Graphic designer John Celuch was among those who attended Jobs’ speech. Cassette recordings of the presentation were offered to audience members, and Celuch claimed one for himself. Celuch, in an interview this week, recalled hanging on to the tape over the years and eventually lending it to Marcel Brown, a technology consultant in Edwardsville with whom he does business.
Brown had the tape in his possession since 2011 before giving it a listen. And when he did earlier this summer, its historical value was not lost on him.
“It was really neat information,” he said.
That prompted Brown, who also blogs about the world of high tech, to digitize the tape and post it online this week. Before Brown went public with the recording, Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson, also Jobs’ biographer, discussed the talk in an August article he wrote for Smithsonian magazine.
Brown marveled at Jobs’ vision of the future, which was put on display in Aspen.
“Regarding the speech, it is amazing to hear Steve Jobs talk about some things that were not fully realized until only a handful of years ago. This talk shows us just how incredibly ahead of his time he was,” Brown wrote on his blog.
Jobs also hints at a future with computer tablets, a concept that Apple pioneered with its launch of the iPad and subsequent editions.
“We will find a way to put (a computer) in a shoebox and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we’ll find a way to put it in a book,” Jobs told the Aspen audience just six months before the debut of the Macintosh, which would permanently change the landscape of personal computing.
While Celuch attended Jobs’ presentation, he also was at the site – the current grounds of the Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival – when the so-called Aspen Time Tube was lowered into the ground. Celuch spotted Jobs and asked him if he wanted anything left in the capsule.
“He reached over to his Lisa computer, pulled the mouse off of it and handed me the mouse by the tail,” Celuch said. “And we buried it into the time capsule.”
That was on June 23, 1983, when a crowd of onlookers buried the Time Tube, which harbored such relics as an eight-track recording of the Moody Blues, a Sears Roebuck catalog, a June 1983 copy of Vogue magazine, a Rubik’s Cube, Coca-Cola drinks, a six-back of beer and a muffin.
Nick DeWolf, Aspen’s eccentric genius who designed the dancing fountain on the Mill Street mall, also left its secret plans in the capsule.
And then there’s the mouse, which Jobs removed from one of Apple’s biggest commercial failures: the Lisa.
“I can’t imagine it would be worth that much,” Brown said of the mouse. “It wasn’t like a rare item. It was from a mass-produced computer that certainly wasn’t successful. But the fact that (the time capsule) had been buried, and Steve Jobs virtually put it in there himself, some collector might find that valuable.”
As for now, the Aspen Time Tube remains buried, despite original plans to unearth it at a ceremony in June 2000, when the mayor would deliver a proclamation. The reason for the delay, now 12-plus years and counting, is that no one know its precise location.
Permission was needed from the Institute when the capsule was buried because the Institute owned the Music Festival grounds at the time. Now the Music Festival owns it.
“The problem is the landscape has changed the location of the landmark that would have been pretty important to pin it down,” said Basalt architect Harry Teague, who designed Harris Concert Hall, which was erected on the grounds in 1983, and the Benedict Music Tent, which was built in 2000.
Because of those changes, some markers for the time capsule might have been removed or relocated, making it even more difficult to pinpoint the location, he said.
“We did have it surveyed. We could get close and then hit it with a metal detector,” Teague said.
On Brown’s LifeLibertyTech.com website, he blogged Thursday about the time capsule.
“There is a piece of Apple and Steve Jobs’ history buried in Aspen, Colorado. And no one seems to know exactly where it is. Making it yet another ‘lost’ piece of Steve Jobs lore,” he wrote.
Brown said he and Celuch are trying to locate people who were in Aspen at the time of the capsule’s burial.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could dig up the time capsule next year, on the 30th anniversary of its burial?” he wrote.
Teague said the capsule was made of PVC pipe with each end capped.
“It’s pretty much moisture-proof,” he said. “And it’s not going anywhere. The only thing that could hurt the plastic is ultraviolet, and it’s not getting much of that.”
To read Brown’s blogs on the subject, visit the following links: