Just Briefly: Steve Jobs

Posted: 21/01/2011 in IT-centric Articles, Quick Thoughts

I am usually incredulous when someone – usually clutching an iPhone or an iPod, or even the owner of a Mac  – professes ignorance as to who Steve Jobs is. I find it incredible. Given his role in the personal computing and now wider electronic media industries, it defies logic that he should be anything but a household name. But it seems he remains invisible to many outside the geekosphere.

I’m not going to attempt to explain Steve Jobs to the world. That’s Wikipedia’s job.

This week came the news that Steve Jobs is to go on indefinite medical leave. Again. The speculation has of course started as to how long he will be away and who would ultimately replace him. Or at least, who would take the reins (cum reign) at Apple.

All of the cold, practical considerations around Steve Jobs’ succession planning, and the effect his absence will have on Apple’s fortunes and share price, are all well and good, and it’s a necessary discussion. But as a guy in the industry who cut my teeth on, and still have massive affection for, Apple ][s, and who from my early teens took a deep interest in all of the stories surrounding the germination of the personal computer industry in the 70s & early 80s, and who lived through the times that saw its initial genesis, I can’t help putting all of the intellectualism aside and just hoping that this doesn’t signal the end of Steve’s career, or indeed an inexorably downward spiral in his health.

Steve’s an icon and a giant of the industry. This sounds blindingly obvious to say. But for many of us around my age, he is in a very real sense the father of our careers, and the founder of a not insignificant proportion of our way of life. I just hope all of the non-geek Apple customers out there can appreciate what the man has achieved in his lifetime. If & when Steve is lost to us, whenever that may occur, it will really feel like the captain has left the bridge.

Long Live Steve Jobs. And I’m not even an Apple fanboy.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Haggis McTaggart, Steven Black. Steven Black said: Just belted out a few quick thoughts re Steve Jobs in a blog post. https://pragmocracy.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/just-briefly-steve-jobs/ […]

  2. Jai Normosone says:

    I am not an Apple fanboy either but it is hard to deny the place that Apple has in the industry – if nothing else, as a means of polarising discussion between Windoze fanboys and everyone else 🙂

    10 years ago, saying you had an Apple meant that you were a voice in the wilderness… only you and a select few would understand *why* you had such a machine when you spoke about music and video editing – then along came the iPhone.

    I do *not* like the iPhone (in its current form) as I equate it to the Blackberry – just another wank toy for managers and end users that has lots of ‘things’ on it that caqn make you think that you’re being efficient and practical – but really aren’t when you are trying to support systems and suddenly the battery runs out.

    I’m not partial to carrying a charger everywhere I go – nor do I like having to wrap my phone in cotton wool in case it gets a drop of water on it or, heaven forbid, gets dropped. I need a phone that makes and takes calls and will be working after I get caught in a heavy downpour; slips out of my hand; and has a battery life of longer than a day.

    All that being said – I would like to get an iPhone-style phone and a tablet PC *one* day – but only when reliability, connectivity, efficiency and robustness improves. Until then, the iPhone can stay in the realm of those who get it purely for the purpose of posing.

  3. Anon Y. Mouse says:

    In one of his first deals while partnered with Steve Wozniak, Jobs made a $5,000 sale.
    He told Woz that the sale was only for $2,000 and gave him $1,000, thus cheating
    him out of $1,500. And on the eve of Apple going public and making Jobs a
    multi-millionaire, he was in the middle of divorcing his first wife and attempting to
    deny her any alimony at all.

    Research the history of the man. He has a well-deserved reputation as a prick.

    Jobs may be a “giant of the industry,” but his position is largely because he has
    appropriated the work of others. He is incapable of performing the technical
    engineering or artistic design that goes into Apple products.

    • sjb351 says:

      A worthy comment, and I’m glad you made it.

      What you say is true, he’s not someone you could accuse of having been an angel all of his life.

      You’ve hit upon one of the difficulties concerning historical perspectives regarding a given individual. Doubtless, any towering figure in history is going to excel in one aspect of their life, and, just as inevitably, fall down in other respects.
      The question becomes, do we laud their achievements anyway, or discount their achievements based upon their sins in other contexts? It’s a question given to subjective resolution.
      For mine, I choose to celebrate the genuine achievements. Because if you allowed peoples sins to cancel out the good that they do, we might end up with no shining lights at all.
      In Steve Jobs’ case, you’re right, he was not spotless, nor was he ever the engineer in the frame. The engineering was done by others. The design, too, for the most part. But Steve Jobs was & is the driving force and the compass of Apple. He set the direction and he forged ahead along it with relentless determination. Without him Apple could never have been what it has become, and the current face of technology would be radically different from that which we currently see. The standards he has set, the ethos he has fostered, and the functionality that he has demanded have shaped pretty much everything that has come out of Apple during his tenure, and that forms the core of how history will judge him.

      If you choose to dwell on the downsides in his life, then that’s cool, but to be true to that perspective, you’ll need to make sure you apply the same yardstick to anyone you ever admire. I have a feeling it will make you sad.

  4. kgagne says:

    Be Jobs an industry giant or a prick (or both combined), he deserves to be in good health as much as the next person, and I wish him well.

    I too would be sad to see Steve leave, either his company or this planet — but more so were the Steve we lost his original partner, Steve Wozniak, who truly has seemed an angel throughout his long and storied carrier.

  5. tomtac says:

    I too was saddened by the way Jobs used Steve Wozniak. And, at this point, facing cancer and possible death, one may find that even a grand-and-a-half, sneaked out of a friend’s pocket, may not mean anything near as much as having that friend’s whole-hearted respect and … um … love.

    The point made about the standards we use for celebrities … well taken. We’ve had the problem way back to Sir Isaac Newton. Awe inspiring achievers, who fall short on the personal side, maybe. For me, I try not to judge (lest I be judged) and I also keep the work separate from the rest of the stuff. Nuff said.

    Looking at his contribution to the Apple II, I keep in mind that Jobs had a good marketing perspective — this led to the Wozniak’s story of the development of the hi-res graphics, Woz was not going to include it because it would have required two or three extra chips and drive up costs, but that Jobs excitedly insisted that Woz include the feature. Being able to control each pixel onscreen made so much possible, and Woz had Jobs to credit for that decision.

    I’d like both Steves to keep heathy and to go on doing what they’re doing. There are Youtube videos of cats and dogs playing with an iPad on the floor displaying a simulated mouse. Simply, that is cool, and I’m glad the Steve’s helped that kind of thing happen.

  6. […] Apple II blogger Steven Black injects some further humanity into the discussion: … as a guy in the industry who cut my teeth on, and still have massive affection for, Apple […]

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