It was the evening of Oct. 5. Dinner was over; I was reading a book on my iPad while listening to a Philadelphia jazz station on my Internet radio when the first email message arrived announcing the passing of Steve Jobs. I had been reflecting upon Apple’s product announcements made Oct. 4; at our NMUG meeting, we watched a streaming video of the event. I probably was mulling around in my mind about what to write as the next Mac 411 article.
I certainly didn’t expect to be writing this article.
Those who know me probably view me as stoic and rather cold; I wouldn’t argue their point. However I am amazed at my reactions to Jobs’ death, and when reading the 100s of articles and comments about Jobs and his place in our history. Consider me now as being near the top of the weepy, choked up set.
Reading the pros
The number of wonderful eulogy messages / articles is finite, but not countable by me. I’ve viewed hundreds. Here are two that I’ve added to my database of stored websites to remember.
MacWorld magazine exists because of the Apple company. Jason Snell is editorial director for the magazine. His eulogy is one of the best to describe the personal impact that Apple (as driven by Steve Jobs) has made upon the lives of you, me and everyone else: tinyurl.com/3gafgn4
I’ve picked one national press article by David Gelernter of the Wall Street Journal because of its historical perspective. It was Steve Jobs’ return to the company that created the most valuable (market) and most significant user-experience company of today: tinyurl.com/3tm5p3w
By the summer of 2005 Steve Jobs learned he had pancreatic cancer and of his limited likelihood of survival. He accepted an invitation to be the commencement speaker for Stanford University. If you haven’t viewed a video of his 2005 speech, please do: tinyurl.com/ec4jo
The pre-Mac world
I knew Apple almost before there was an Apple, as I was paid to stay abreast of computing technology early in my career. I enjoy telling my daughters about the computing industry icons I met and supported before they became icons.
I never met Steve. I was fortunate to have visited Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) on a few occasions. Like the team from Apple, my colleagues and I were blown away by the potential of the breakthrough Graphical User Interface (GUI) system on its Alto computer. We encouraged Xerox to offer the product for use in our offices. Xerox’s top management couldn’t have cared less, however. Xerox made copy machines — and their supplies — and that was all they wanted to sell.
The first result of Apple’s visit to PARC was the Lisa computer, the first to successfully incorporate the Alto features. But it was expensive. I had one installed on trial for my secretary to use, replacing the Wang for a few months. She cried when it had to be returned. When the Macintosh was released we bought them for almost everyone. Eventually we had more than 400 Macs linked via AppleTalk in three buildings separated by 10 miles.
Let me separate this into three elements: products, culture and Wall Street
Apple attracts the best and brightest of engineers and designers. Leaders like Jonathan Ive are there to drive the product appearance. Others whom I don’t know create the fantastic implementation. Products will continue to be revolutionary. Reports indicate that Steve Jobs was personally involved in product development plans for the next three to four years.
Steve was an extremely private person. However, probably after his cancer diagnosis, he began transferring his philosophical DNA into Apple to assure that Apple after Jobs would continue.
One action was to create Apple University that is a type of Harvard Business School training for Apple’s managers and potentials about the Apple way. Case studies and education should let future Apple employees understand Apple’s philosophy even in his absence. This was a big company perspective and indicative of Steve’s vision beyond products; I’ve not met many companies in the Internet / recent computer industry that were this visionary. Normally they focus on stock-option cash-out opportunities.
The challenge for investors will be whether Apple’s management can put up presentation managers for product announcements that inspire, as Steve Jobs did over and over. I expect Apple dynamics to be more subdued but eventually stabilizing.
Do you have a question about using your Mac? Send your question to Jerry: AskJWK@Gmail.COM
An index of prior Mac 411 articles is available: tinyurl.com/Mac411Index
Jerry King is president of the Naples MacFriends User Group (NMUG), founded to help Macintosh users get the most out of their computers. NMUG is open to area residents and seasonal visitors. For membership information visit: www.naplesmug.com.