Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs dead

My first brush with a microcomputer was in the 1970s, in elementary school. I vaguely remember walking up to the machine, the only one in a fairly large school, and thinking, "So this is what everyone is talking about." It was an Apple II, and 30 kids or so would gather around it, once a week, to play Oregon Trail. It was fun.

I've never been a fan of Apple, and I have some very, very good reasons for that. I've never owned an Apple product, and have no plans to in the future. I got my first computer in 1981, and it wasn't an Apple. The Mac? It broke no new ground at all, as all tech people know. Do your homework: Engelbart's Augmentation System; Xerox PARC, etc. Steve Jobs used to quote Picasso in an admission of not being first: "Good artists copy, great artists steal."

Still, there were perhaps 500 people, from the 1940s to the early 1980s, that are largely responsible for.... this. All of it. ALL THIS. I am old enough to remember what life was like before personal computers, and boy did it suck. Life is so much better now. I always felt lucky not just to have lived to see the Information Age, but to have lived through the transition. It has been an amazing ride. Steve Jobs was one of those 500 people, and now he's gone, and that is truly sad.

It took centuries for the printing press to have a massive, worldwide impact. It took only a couple of decades for the personal computer to have an even bigger impact. Steve Jobs played a big role in the speed of change.

Here's one of the most touching things I've read about the passing of Steve Jobs, especially the tribute to the first Mac:
    I’m truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’ death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work.

    Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives.

    The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come.

    For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.
It's from Bill Gates.

Reference material

Best article you will read about Steve Jobs, with a good video tribute. It's by Stephen Levy, author of many great books about the computer revolution, and he's also a senior writer at Wired. I'm half way through Levy's book "Insanely Great", the story of the first MacIntosh -- and the timing is kind of eerie, considering my first book about Apple coincides with the death of Jobs.

Excellent documentary, from PBS, which includes great archival video footage of Jobs (and others): Triumph of the Nerds.

Video of Steve Jobs introducing the original Mac.

The famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial for Mac.

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