Tech Journalist Mossberg Names the Five Most Influential and Predicts The Future of Devices

Friday, August 11, 2017


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Walter Mossberg, formerly WSJ and RI native

Who are five of the most influential people to change personal technology? The most important journalist gave his insight on personal tech to date and outlined where we are going.

Super tech journalist and Rhode Island native Walt Mossberg appeared on GoLocal LIVE on Thursday as part of the #BIF2017 Summit Speaker Series, with GoLocal's News Editor Kate Nagle.

"Well, it was a combination of really important people - and really important technology," said Mossberg. "It took too long for the computer industry to get the memo that these things had to be usable without reading manuals."

Mossberg, who served as the principal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal from 1991 to 2013, founded AllThingsD, Recode and the D and Code Conferences, and from 2015 to 2017, was Executive Editor of The Verge.

He will be speaking at the #BIF17 Summit, which takes place in Providence next month on September 13 and 14. 

Five of the Tops Influential  

"Steve Jobs was super important because he built his company - with his co-founder - unlike how other people built theirs. He built his so that the products were meant for the actual person using them, rather for the IT director of a company," said Mossberg. "When he built the iPhone, he didn't build it for AT&T or Verizon, he was building it for the person."

"Bill Gates was the first guy to come up with the idea of a software-only company... so that companies could use his software, which brought the price of computers down at a crucial stage, and democratize it," said Mossberg.

"You can continue right through Mark Zuckerberg. People can have differing opinions on Facebook, but he's got 2 billion users out of 7 billion people on earth," added Mossberg, of the Facebook co-founder. "It's used by your grandmother, your kids -- who are 12 or 13 or older, almost everybody. That's a pretty huge achievement."


"Philippe Kahn is an engineer who came over from France in probably the '70s and did a bunch of important products for business...but he had a baby daughter, which inspired him to invent the camera phone," said Mossberg. "Most people haven't heard of him. It was a simple flip phone, but he figured a way to hook it up to a camera. The first camera phone photo widely shared outside the lab...was his daughter."

Mossberg then mentioned a team  as his "fifth."

"Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky -- his partner. She was the business genius -- they founded Palm," said Mossberg. "They invented the pocketable computer, the Palm Pilot, and one of the first smartphones."

"People like that, they're not making movies [about like Jobs] but they had a very important role," said Mossberg. 

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Mossberg with the late Steve Jobs

Predictions on Next Ten Years

"I think the next phase -- [which] should take 10, maybe 20 -- is called what I term 'ambient' computing," said Mossberg. 

"Your computer - and your smartphone -- will gradually disappear," said Mossberg. "Everything around you will have sensors and processors and connections...and you'll be able to talk with them.  The Amazon Echo?  It will be looked back upon as being very crude."


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