Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs

I've never purchased an Apple product. My cellphone is a Droid, my computers are Windows-based or Ubuntu machines built by HP, and my music isn't stored in an i-anything.

Yet, Apple has been a part of my life since the late 70's. I sold TRS-80 computers for Radio Shack, and frequently heard comparisons to Apple's 6502 microprocessor machine.  Their systems always seemed more robust and had many more third-party hardware and software companies than the Radio Shack line. The few people I knew back then who owned Apple machines seemed to be even more enthusiastic about their machines than the TRS-80 owners.

Although I've never purchased an Apple computer, I did own one for about a year. It was a Lisa, the failed precursor to the Macintosh. A friend of Michelle's had bought several then-new Macs for his office and asked me if I'd like his old Lisa. I took it home and fired it up. It was a pretty amazing computer, considering it came out about the same time as the IBM PC-XT. The icon-based screens, reflecting Steve Jobs' successful co-opting of the Xerox Palo Alto GUI, was years beyond anything on other manufacturers' machines. Windows --- the kind of GUI experience already present in the Lisa -- wouldn't arrive until almost a decade later.

Steve Jobs didn't invent all of this, but he brought together the kinds of minds who could build this for the world. Jobs was a promoter even more than he was an inventor. He could sell his vision to others, and show people how wonderful, how simple, and how smart computers could be. In short, Steve Jobs made the future happen - - even for those of us who never bought his products.

A lot of obituaries this evening are making comparisons between Jobs and Thomas Edison, but I think there's a closer comparison between Jobs and Wernher von Braun. Edison focused on the present, but von Braun, and Jobs, sold us on the future - - a future that few could ever imagine happening.

RIP, Steve.

1 comment:

  1. You're absolutely right that Jobs sold us on the future. He just knew what the people wanted and he worked his ass off to bring his visions to life.

    And with the upgrades that I saw yesterday during a live blog of the iPhone 4S keynote, technology is about to get even better, thanks to this man who had the drive to create these amazing machines.