Part 3 of learn from the president hosted by Shigesato Itoi Ft. Satoru Iwata
We are starting to get material similar to Iwata’s heart of a gamer speech, so this one was rather quick.
読むシステム： How to read
Shigesato Itoi’s dialogue is indented like this 糸井重里の言葉はこのふうに
And Satoru Iwata’s dialogue isn’t indented 岩田聡の言葉はこのふうに
Learn From the President! Part 3: The day I became obsessed. 社長に学ぶ！ 『3』ものすごく夢中になった日。
Iwata-san always seems to exude impartiality, but is it also the case for others in science or engineering fields overall?
If you had someone for example, younger than me, with a shorter career and thus less experience, who could create programs that run faster than mine and with less lines of code, it’s abundantly clear how “good” they are.
Given they work on an identical outcome, being able to produce the more concise and efficient code means they’ve got something extra going for them. For me, paying my respect to their methods and learning from them is the natural course of action.
If somebody has abilities I don’t have, it’s not a question about whether or not they’re naughty or nice, ugly or pretty, none of that matters. I’ll have respect for them.
Because of that you could say that impartiality really could be a part of us.
In their hearts, everyone should feel the same, but when things don’t go smoothly between fellow programmers, there’s some kind of reason no?
Yes. Those reasons are many in number.
Iwata-san, all the way until your university days, were you unaware of the sort of leadership we’ve discussed?
Well, I did act as class president, a captain-like position in a school club, and the head of the student council, so it’s not to say there was zero indication.
But during then it was less about learning and executing, and more about… just somehow getting the job done. I didn’t think as deeply about it.
“If you’re just a little louder, you’ll be heard”. That was the extent of the “leadership” required at the time.
Ah-ha. so do you feel that those memories have contributed to your numerous experiences doing an actual job?
That, and when I first joined a company it was incredibly small and young, so I was immediately a stakeholder to corporate decisions.
You started off working part time at HAL Laboratory, so I like to joke to my colleagues that “This Iwata fellow, he went from part-timer to president!”.
Is that so eh? When HAL Laboratory was founded I worked there during my second and third years of university, and after I graduated I joined the company full time.
Did you do other part time work?
There was other part time jobs but work at HAL was unique.
Did it suit you?
How should I say it… “I couldn’t help but enjoy the work”.
When Iwata-san joined as a part-timer, for example, in computer magazines did you have a presence covered up by a psuedonym that only people in the know were aware about? Or were you just a freshman?
I didn’t have any secret identity in magazines or anything, although there was a time when I was a senior high schooler, when the word “computer” didn’t exist. Obviously such magazines didn’t exist then, but instead I discovered the existence of programmable calculators.
I had a history of making games on those calculators and letting my nearby friends play them.
Aah, such a small device, until now I always wondered what it was, but I remember seeing it.
This was before the “Pocket Computer” came out, there happened to be a calculator made by Hewlett-Packard. It was installed onboard the Apollo space shuttle that went on a mission to the moon, and was used for tasks like calibrating the antenna’s angle.
It’s true! A calculator with that kind of capabilities at the time was super expensive, so I saved up cash working part time washing dishes. Once I saved up half the cost, my father paid the remaining half for me.
“If you’re that serious about it then…”
Then afterwards I became completely obsessed about that calculator.
Nobody was there to teach me so I pressed on alone.
Step by step I discovered more. “Ahh! You can even do this, and that…”. From there I made a game and sent it to the Japanese branch of Hewlett-Packard.
(Ha ha ha), It’s amazing you went that far!
It seems over there they were so surprised to find that “Some outrageous high school kid seems to exist in Sapporo”.
They followed up by sending me a ton of materials.
Wow, that really is amazing!
So say if Nintendo got sent a product from a high schooler that they could sell the next day, thats the kind of surprise that hit them.
But at the time the creator didn’t realise the meaning behind what he did! (hahaha)
You were just remarkably obsessed at the time.
Yep. I became extremely engaged.
Recieving documents from a company, even just one of them… these days it’s basically unheard of.
Yeah. Back then we had no internet, or relevant books.
You wouldn’t find it in a library, that’s for sure.
Mmm. The calculator came with an instruction manual, and it was quite thick. I had to read it all carefully…
Was it in Japanese?
The short answer is yes, but the Japanese used in that manual was very… weird.
I guess they wrote it without considering how to facilitate your understanding.
In no way did they do that. On the other hand, I gradually came to understand what was written. And then I was able to discover how to do this or that…
So you managed to grasp the intentions behind the machine’s creators then.
I did feel something like that.
So you went so far that even the translators who didn’t understand the meaning behind the map they were reading, managed to have all it’s backstreets deciphered by a mysterious high schooler from Sapporo. If it was a developer that endeavoured to achieve this you’d still want to say “great job getting this far”.
I think so. That was the beginning this one user’s experience with computers.
Ahhh how fascinating!
end of part 3