One of the benefits of being my age or near is that we’ve witnessed some of the most significant advances in technology in all history, including seeing the meteoric rise (and fall, and rise, etc) of Steve Jobs and Apple. Apple was founded in the 70s but it was a decade later when the Macintosh line seized the public’s imagination and transformed how we viewed and used computers.
Macintosh was the first popular and commercially successful personal computer that utilized a “windows” interface and a “mouse” for input. The Macintosh predecessor, Lisa, had a similar interface but Lisa ultimately failed where the Mac succeeded. With the Mac the personal computer had come of age and you didn’t have to know DOS commands to use one. They were described as “intuitive” and were the original plug and play computers. It all began during a football game.
It was 1984 and a few million of us were watching the LA Raiders stomp the
Redskins (38-9) at Super Bowl XVIII when Apple announced the Macintosh line via a futuristic commercial directed by Ridley Scott (yes that Ridley Scott). That commercial became known as the “1984 advertisement.” Critically acclaimed it’s still to this day considered an advertising masterpiece. See it here if you haven’t already.
With the help of a Sears credit card, a few years later I could finally afford a computer – a Macintosh LC II. Back then the 4MB of RAM and massive 40MB hard drive made me the coolest kid on the block. It even came with a 2400 baud modem which allowed me to dial into various BBS all over the country.
“I wish him the best, I really do. I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.” – Steve Jobs on Bill Gates as quoted in “Creating Jobs” in The New York Times
Prior to that I had never really used a computer much, yet within an hour of plugging everything in I was up and running, creating and communicating with people all over the country. I had no idea what I was doing but damn, it sure was easy to do it.
Then Apple went through a long period where it struggled just to survive while critics predicted the demise of the company was just around the corner. Steve Jobs was eventually pushed out of the company he founded, only to return later. North America has never been the same.
The iPhone has been the modern crowing achievement for the company who had previously been overshadowed by Microsoft for decades. Historically
Apple computers were favored in art, media and academic settings but
Microsoft ruled in the server and office environment. Apple lost the PC war big time yet they retained a devout cult following and filled a niche very nicely, but it was the iPhone that gave them a product that quickly went mainstream. With the iPhone, iPad, and IPod, Apple not only garnered the lions share of the market, it set the standard for which other companies are still struggling to compete.
Steve Jobs left the planet far too soon. He took a computer company, whose obituary had been written numerous times, and completely transformed it into a major, global force and he did so by introducing innovative products that consumers couldn’t get enough of.
I don’t have much to say that others haven’t said already but I did want to shed some light on the very popular Steve Jobs bicycle quote that we’re seen lately, most sites seem to be leaving off the bits that lead up to the bicycle and computer analogy. Here is a more complete transcript:
“I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list … That didn’t look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And a man on a bicycle blew the condor away. That’s what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” – Steve Jobs
You can watch and hear that entire quote here. Steve jobs changed the game and will be missed, not sure what else can be said.
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