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The beginning of the Internet


My clashes with Steve Jobs
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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So Steve [Jobs] and I had an on and off difficult, sometimes difficult, relationship for years. For instance when I came out with the connection machine that was a perfect black cube and I showed it to Steve, Steve looked at it and said, 'A perfect black cube. Oh shit.' And I thought, 'Oh shit, he's going to make a computer that's a perfect black cube.' Which of course he did. That was the Next. And then he sort of implied that I had stolen the idea from him. But of course I had made mine a year before.

So we had little things like that that happened. But he tried to hire away some of my people and I wouldn't let him. And I actually met with him and said, 'I'm not going to let this happen because if you get... So just lay off my people.' And he tried to hire the person, but I made sure it didn't happen. So, and that person, was actually Brewster Kahle. And Brewster had made the first search engine on the connection machine. But I got Brewster to go and get Alan Kay to hire him because he wanted to develop the search engine, Thinking Machines wasn't really a position to do that. So Alan Kay did... And eventually Brewster spun out and started WAIS and started the first search engine company and then the internet archive. But that was all before the web.

W Daniel Hillis (b. 1956) is an American inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While doing his doctoral work at MIT under artificial intelligence pioneer, Marvin Minsky, he invented the concept of parallel computers, that is now the basis for most supercomputers. He also co-founded the famous parallel computing company, Thinking Machines, in 1983 which marked a new era in computing. In 1996, Hillis left MIT for California, where he spent time leading Disney’s Imagineers. He developed new technologies and business strategies for Disney's theme parks, television, motion pictures, Internet and consumer product businesses. More recently, Hillis co-founded an engineering and design company, Applied Minds, and several start-ups, among them Applied Proteomics in San Diego, MetaWeb Technologies (acquired by Google) in San Francisco, and his current passion, Applied Invention in Cambridge, MA, which 'partners with clients to create innovative products and services'. He holds over 100 US patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods, and various electronic and mechanical devices (including a 10,000-year mechanical clock), and has recently moved into working on problems in medicine. In recognition of his work Hillis has won many awards, including the Dan David Prize.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes George Dyson

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Steve Jobs, Brewster Kahle, Alan Kay

Duration: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 08 August 2017