A predictive interview with Bert Kersey

Filed under History;

The KansasFest 2010 keynote speaker was Mark Simonsen, who regaled his audience with tales of his days at Beagle Bros. In that speech, which is now available as both a podcast and a video, he recalls many Apple II luminaries whose paths he crossed, including Beagle Bros founder Bert Kersey.

Although Mr. Kersey is not one for public speaking, preferring instead to focus on barn owls, he nonetheless recently gave an interview with The Setup, a Web site that looks at the tools and strategies of geniuses across a variety of professions by asking them four questions:

  • Who are you, and what do you do?
  • What hardware do you use?
  • And what software?
  • What would be your dream setup?

Bert Kersey’s interview, published in March 2010, is a brief one — only 431 words, including questions. The answers to what technology he uses are rather nondescript; "nothing unusual", he says. But in his answer to the final question, Mr. Kersey engages in a bit of tangential prognostication:

In 1982, I was interviewed by Softalk magazine and I was asked what a dream setup might be for the future. I went out on a limb and imagined:

  1. Smaller, less fragile floppy disks (smaller than 5-1/4 inches)
  2. The ability to do typesetting on my desktop.
  3. Movies on the printed page.

#1 was introduced in 1984 with the Mac. #2 became a reality in 1986 with the LaserWriter. As for #3, I guess the internet is the next best thing.

Developments that align with these predictions continue to be developed. Removable media transitioned from 5.25″ floppies to 3.5″ disks, as Mr. Kersey notes, but from there to USB thumb drives that hold thousands of times more data than Beagle Bros ever knew, for a fraction of the price. Typesetting, layout, and almost all other aspects of publishing have been redefined by computers. And while movies on the "printed page" are not yet a reality, I believe that combinations of E Ink, flexible plastic, and OLED displays may lead to something far closer to what Mr. Kersey has imagined.

It’s no surprise to me that someone with the creativity and innovation to build an industry out of the Apple II should so accurately see what the future might bring.

(Hat tips to Mr. Guilt and Steve Weyhrich)

  1. Bob Crane says:

    who would of thought you would be famous when you were hiding turtles in our backyard or making seaweed sandwich