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Old 10-06-2011, 05:04 AM   #1
The Spaceman
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In 1981 I was just out of college and in a management training program with a Florida bank. The bank president assigned me to look into microcomputers. "I don't know what they're going to mean to us, but I am sure they're going to be important." So we bought an Apple II, and a TRS-80. I started taking post-grad courses at FIT in microprocessors and BASIC. Within a year, we had two new computers, the first IBM PC that loaded CPM from a cassette tape player, and a "Lisa," which was Apple's first business machine. The Lisa was WAY ahead of its time. It cost over $10k, compared to $5k for the IBM, but it had a GUI, a mouse, and was a completely integrated system with applications that worked together seamlessly. Obviously IBM "won the war" in the business computing world, but Apple surely changed our world just as much as IBM and "IBM compatible" computers did.

I had a chance to see Steve Jobs give a talk on the Macintosh when it came out. It was built on the Lisa's operating system, and had a very similar look and feel, but unlike the Lisa, it was affordable and it succeeded. Windows was still years away when Mac users were pointing, clicking and dragging files, cutting and pasting data between applications, etc., while I was writing menu systems and entering DOS commands at a c:> prompt.

Steve Jobs was a polarizing guy in the industry. A lot of people didn't like him or how he ran Apple, but there is no doubt he will be remembered as a visionary and someone who changed the world. The Apple I he and Steve Wozniack cooked up in his parent's garage surely defined my career by opening the field of microcomputers and making them an indispensible part of our business lives.

Vaya con Dios, Mr. Jobs.
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Old 10-06-2011, 05:19 AM   #2
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Well said, Kenneth. As a hard core business traveler, my life has become much more comfortable on the road.

However, in the old days there was nothing to do in the airport so we sat and talked to total strangers. It frequently ended up with a young lass's phone number in buzglyd's wallet.

Now! everyone sits around with headphones on staring at a tiny, electronic gadget. They don't even talk to each other in the bar!

Damn you Steve!
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:16 PM   #3
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I don't want this to sound churlish, but I think the reactions to Steve Jobs - especially the oft-stated "he changed the world" - are a bit overblown.

He was a brilliant businessman. He made his company not just a brand, but a cult. And he did what anti-corporatists always rail against - he convinced consumers that they needed things they had never even wanted. As a final delicious triumph, his products can be seen attached to many of those very same anti-corporatists, who never seemed to begrudge Apple its massive profit margins that Exxon and Pfizer could only envy.

When I think of a world-changing inventor, I think of Norman Borlaug. Or even Malcolm McLean. When I look at Apple's products, I see toys for adults. Jobs was the world's greatest toymaker.

He made people's lives more entertaining. I guess in our culture, that's the ultimate accomplishment. It's not an indictment of Jobs, but of ourselves.

Again, a brilliant guy and a fantastic businessman, but humanity would not have been much poorer without him. Can't say the same about Borlaug and McLean.
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:55 PM   #4
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I don't know about humanity, but as a road warrior for much of my life, his gadgets have made my life immensely easier and more productive.
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzglyd View Post
I don't know about humanity, but as a road warrior for much of my life, his gadgets have made my life immensely easier and more productive.
Fair enough. So maybe the truth is somewhere between "world's greatest toymaker" and "he changed the world."
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Old 10-07-2011, 03:08 AM   #6
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I think we could all agree that his making popular the GUI in computing makes him "icon-ic".
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schizuki View Post
I don't want this to sound churlish, but I think the reactions to Steve Jobs - especially the oft-stated "he changed the world" - are a bit overblown.

He was a brilliant businessman. He made his company not just a brand, but a cult. And he did what anti-corporatists always rail against - he convinced consumers that they needed things they had never even wanted. As a final delicious triumph, his products can be seen attached to many of those very same anti-corporatists, who never seemed to begrudge Apple its massive profit margins that Exxon and Pfizer could only envy.

When I think of a world-changing inventor, I think of Norman Borlaug. Or even Malcolm McLean. When I look at Apple's products, I see toys for adults. Jobs was the world's greatest toymaker.

He made people's lives more entertaining. I guess in our culture, that's the ultimate accomplishment. It's not an indictment of Jobs, but of ourselves.

Again, a brilliant guy and a fantastic businessman, but humanity would not have been much poorer without him. Can't say the same about Borlaug and McLean.

Apparently you're looking at Jobs and Apple in the context of the iPad and the iPod. That's understandable if you weren't involved in PCs in their early days. When you understand the significance of the Apple II, and later the Mac, which were original and critical breakthroughs leading to the worldwide adoption of micrcomputers and the Internet, then you can appreciate the enormity of Jobs contribution to the Information Age (or whatever you want to call it).

If you want to dismiss PCs and the Internet as toys, then you're right. Personally I think they're more significant than that.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:07 AM   #8
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I can see how a more user friendy G.U.I. helped the uninitiated. The technology companies that I worked for early in my career were managed with ERP level software main frame based hardware systems. Applications were developed in house and PC business applications were DOS based. Both utilized character driven interfaces. As an entrepeneur he was able to create many innovative products and build a company mystique that helped market them along the way. We may have seen the last of his type. Only a capitalistic system could offer him the latitude and creativity he needed to fully utilize his ability. I greatly respect his accomplisments but could never buy into the Cult of Apple. R.I.P.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:55 AM   #9
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All this assumes that no one else would ever have thought of a GUI. It's not like Jobs was the only guy working on it, just the successful one. Eventually it would have happened.

If he hadn't been a snob and had allowed cloning of his systems he would have crushed Microsoft.
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Spaceman View Post
Apparently you're looking at Jobs and Apple in the context of the iPad and the iPod.
Well, me and about a hundred million other people.

Quote:
If you want to dismiss PCs and the Internet as toys, then you're right.
Not at all. I'm not at all computer-savvy, but it seems that Jobs may have inflated a ball that Gates ran with. And as far as the Internet goes, Jobs had little to do with that. Wasn't it Tim Berners-Lee who was really responsible for making it accessible with the WWW? I'll put him on my "changed the world" list right after Borlaug.
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