It's hard to believe that Steve Jobs has passed away. Tonight I was at an open house for inventors and entrepreneurs at the university where I work. Much of our chit-chat focused on Steve Jobs and what he meant to the world, and to each of us personally. Many of the attendees expressed a feeling of personal loss. We recalled the excitement of being one of the first Mac users, or the first I-phone users, or the first I-Pad users. I bought a Macintosh when it first came out. It was amazing to be able to produce publication-quality documents with imbedded pictures. Up until that time, most documents were made on a typewriter, with photocopied pictures glued onto the paper.
Steve Jobs was truly at the forefront of a number of technology revolutions, not just one.
It was hard to believe that at one time Apple decided to hire a guy (John Scully, aka the AntiChrist), who came from Pepsi Cola to run Apple Computer. Now the key thing to remember is that in the soda pop business, the way to win is to find a winning formula, get a good brand, and never, never innovate. So that's what that genius Board of Directors did, and they actually were stupid enough to fire Steve Jobs. I'm sure young people would find that hard to believe, but it truly did happen.
I also believe that Jobs and Steve Wozniak had a lot to do with America's emergence as the world's major superpower. I used to work with technology specialists in Russia a lot, and I was always very impressed with their intelligence and capability in the areas in which I had personal experience, such as nuclear reactor design, and aerospace power and propulsion. In almost all technologies, the Soviet Union and the United States were about on a par. However, the US left the Soviet Union behind in the area of microcomputers and digital electronics. One of my friends who worked in an electronics institute in Moscow says that they used to buy 386 microprocessors from Mikroeletronika in the Soviet Union. In theory it was the same device as the US version, but it would come in a little envelope with a note explaining which parts of the microprocessor worked, and which didn't! Well, there was no way to mass produce a computer with electronics like that.
In the USSR, there was no such thing as a computer company that started in a garage, like Apple Computer. In turn, the presence of rapidly growing low-end microcomputers pushed the powerhouses.
One of the reasons that the US was able to dominate military conflicts in Iraq and other places in the 1990's was that American avionics was light years ahead of the military systems used by Iraq and other foreign powers. We had missiles that could be programmed with little on-board computers, and consequently they could seek out and find their targets and blow them up.
The ability of Jobs and Wozniak to innovate led to the birth of an entirely new industry, and perhaps validated the capitalist economic model.
Jobs was the driving force behind the mouse, the graphical interface, the personal data manager (not to mention the I-phone which put those out of business), the iMac, the MacBook, and jeez the list just goes on and on.
He will be missed. There just isn't anyone out there like him.
God bless you, Steve.
Steve Wozniak's remembrances are available at this link:
This simple logo was designed by a student in Hong Kong, showing Steve Jobs' silhouette imbedded in the apple.