“Learn from the president!” by Shigesato Itoi featuring Satoru Iwata Part 4
Did you know that Shigesato Itoi appears on the original Iron Chef tv series? He sure does get around!
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 4: A life-changing friendship. 社長に学ぶ！ 『4』わたしの人生を変えた相棒。
In high school I happened to sit next to a friend in math class. An interesting fellow for sure, because instead of listening to the math lecture we would both play games during class together.
Did your friend also happened to like computers?
That friend… hmm, always had a positive reception to the games I made.
From my point of view I made my first customer! User Number One.
So, it was like someone with a penchant for comedy having someone who would laugh at their jokes.
It certainly felt like that.
A similar conversation happened with a manga artist. Hmm… now who was it again? While I try to remember, this is what they said.
As a youth, finding a「companion」or a「reader」is an amazing thing. Sometimes, I would even consider them as family…
Yeah. We’ve always sent each other cards on New Years. Even now.
Humans… if theres nobody else to appreciate our deeds, I think we wouldn’t have been able to climb trees.
Thats why meeting him in high school continues to have a profound effect on my life.
Looks like we’ve fully covered your origin story now.
The word “microcomputer” existed back then, but “personal computers” didn’t.
Around what year was that?
1976, Senior High School, second year.
I kind of get it now. During that time I went overseas for work, to places like Los Angeles. Never played one, but I bought a fancy guitar.
“Hey buddy, if you’re taking that back to Japan as a new product you’ll get taxed hard! So let me write ya up some document saying that it’s second hand. Just hold on a minute…”
I remember seeing it. At that very guitar shop, the staff was punching numbers into a calculator. Probably the same calculator that Iwata-san had used, maybe.
So I felt that “an electric guitar otaku who loves new things is going to have the latest gadgets”.
You’re right. That calculator was truly weird by todays standards, there was no key for equals[=]!
Suppose you want to add 1 and 2 together. Well then you’ll press one then enter[ENTER]. Then, you press two and finally you press plus[+]. Its like using verbs in Japanese.
“1 and 2, apply addition, 3 and 4, apply multiplication, subtract 12, how much is it?” You can press the right buttons in the order mentioned, but when you can’t complete the expression with equals[=]… its no wonder why normal people wouldn’t bother with this.
Still, “Managing to master a device nobody else can handle” was interesting!
(Ha ha ha)
Thats why when Itoi-san mentioned it just then, ahh I could feel it. It’s the same feeling. It was 2 years later when the Apple computer was released.
There were a couple of part-timers that would carry those Apple computers around. I remember ending up employing all of them, but while they were working part-time, even when they came to work they’d have those huge computers in tow. They insisted that “if we’ve got these, nothing is impossible!”.
Wow. The era where computers equaled unlimited potential had begun.
Iwata-san, surely you’ve always kept up with the latest evolution in models?
Aah, yeah I have.
What computers are capable of, you’ve been able to observe that change, like watching the flow of a river while standing at the source.
Thats how I quickly cleared any misconceptions about computers.
Computers have strengths and weaknesses. I had it roughly figured all that out while I was in high school.
So you understood it while parents might poke at the device and say “it’s just a calculator, right?”.
Yeah I believe so.
Those so-called “Super Calculators” had rapidly evolved in models, it’s been amusing to witness that right? Theres some power behind seeing things from the beginning.
I’ve also been super lucky to have observed the game industry since the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System).
Isn’t that so eh. Even high school students today talk about being able to ride a bicycle as the story of their youth unfolds. Hearing these things fills you with joy… it really is interesting.
So as soon as university classes were finished, I’d work somewhere where there were no “senpai”(senior students or older colleagues). Thats why I became in charge of my own job.
What does that mean exactly?
Well in terms of the company’s “Development” sector, I had no “senpai”.
It means I was the company’s first developer.
What!? HAL Laboratory’s part-timer kid was Developer Number One?
To be exact, HAL Laboratory was “a company that accidentally gathered a bunch of kids who had the ability to put professionals to shame”.
Should I go into that story?
end of part 4