Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Rise And Fall And Rise And...

Steve Jobs has passed away. Hopefully one of the notions they will lay to rest with him is the conspiracy that the drug companies have a cure for cancer, but keep it a secret in order to sell expensive drug treatments.

I never owned any Apple products, but one of the first computers I got to use was an Apple. Back in the day, the jr. high library had one, and the administration building had one sitting in it's own room. Everyone knew computers were vital for the future, but at that early date, they just sat around while the faculty wondered "But what does one do with it?" The kids just played the game where you were on one side of a mountain taking turns shooting a cannon at the player on the other side.

I also remember wishing that I had put my can collecting money into Apple stock, because Apple computers were the future. About 1996 I was glad that I hadn't, because I had a copy of "Wired" with a multicolored apple on life support gracing the cover and the title "How to save Apple?" Come 2011 and Apple has more cash than the U.S. government, but it is falling into the old habit of trying to stay king of the hill by suing the pants off of anyone who might be ripping off their "look and feel." Because that worked so well in the past.

I don't know that much about the technical aspects of computers, but I've found the personalities behind them fascinating. Everyone argues about who first invented the microcomputer, but I think it was invented by everybody: the absent minded British inventor, the established business company, the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" type, the investor looking for the next new thing, and the two kids in a garage.

Steve Jobs was more about marketing than engineering, and thats why he had the fame and fortune. The best engineering is useless without someone to sell it, but Jobs didn't appear to be cynical. He seemed to believe in his products, even when they were gasping for life.

I'll remember him best for Pixar. He clued in to what Disney lost years ago and seems incapable of getting back: the notion that parents don't want you to hammer socially conscious ideas into their children's heads. Although Pixar movies never pull the emotional punches, the moral messages are the universal ones, like be fair, stick by your friends, etc. All made gently, gently.

Love him or hate him, it's going to be strange without him around. He was just 56 (should have eaten more Doritos) but he had been there through the whole microcomputer revolution, more often than not blazing the path.

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