An Ode to Steve Jobs
The World Library Blog Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 24
Monday, August 29, 2011
by Michael S. Hart
Founder, Project Gutenberg,
Inventor of eBooks
An Ode to Steve Jobs
One of the true greats of our lifetimes resigned recently. . . .
I would like to take or make this opportunity to give credit where due.
Not that Steve Jobs hasn't received billions of dollars, and accolades,
but, in truth, he, along with Steve Wozniak, the founders of Apple Inc,
really deserve so much more credit than they get.
Because we live in an age of antiheroes.
Steve Jobs is one of my heroes. . .not that he was at all perfect.
We live in an age where the media are controlled by mega-corporations--
hopefully not Apple--who deny the importance of the individual hero, to
whom we owe so very very much because they want to replace all that via
a corporate image that does not depend on individuals, other than as ad
spokesmodels for their products, but no longer as the inventor, creator
or maker of those products.
Those people, the inventors, creators, and makers of our products are a
now lost species in the eyes and ears of our media's corporate control.
Why Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak?
Because without them we would be years, if not decades, behind in world
advancement of personal computers.
Before them IBM chief Watson, after whom the Jeopardy champion computer
was named, had said the world would never need more than five or six of
what were called computers in my childhood, computers that by standards
of today could not perform the function of today's television remote.
Woz and Jobs decided that real people, such as you and I, should have a
chance to buy and operate our own computers and thus the Apple was born
in 1979, and the world has never been the same since.
Would IBM have developed their personal computer in 1981 without Apple?
Probably not, though I can prove, if needed, that they were working for
something like a personal computer well before 1981 and the question is
whether or not they would have ever brought it to market with pressures
not being there from Apple, just as Britannica created a CD Britannica,
at about the same time, and never released it until much to late for an
extensive market foray. Everyone had seen Encarta, but few have had an
electronic version of the Britannica to call their own. If you have CD
Britannicas, please let me know, as I would like to collect them for an
entry into a computer museum.
More About Steve Jobs
I'm not going to make any attempt to say that Steve Jobs was perfect as
a person can be, in fact some of the best stores are pretty opposite as
to how he demonstrated Frogger on an Apple when it was really an IBM PC
that was running the program, or when he first demonstrated the Mac and
it turned out to be the very first time the demo ever did not crash not
that Bill Gates hasn't had Windows crash on him very publicly, but Jobs
was both skilled enough and lucky enough that no one ever knew and I am
forced to admit here that these stories may be apocryphal.
However, if you are really interested, see "Pirates of Silicon Valley,"
in both movie and book form.
You might also be interested in the reasons Steve Jobs was fired, which
many no longer remember.
You have to remember that Woz and Jobs literally started in a garage.
As a real garage, it was also the place where Jobs worked on his aging,
but still working, BMW motorcycle.
Thus, one minute he would be working on Apple motherboards, cards, look
and feel, etc., and the next minute would be on his knees, in the pools
of oil that inevitably leaked from the motorcycle, no matter how nicely
it actually ran after he worked on it. This is something a more modern
motorcycle observer might not realize was pretty common in those days.
This sort of behavior was just fine as long as they were working in the
garage, but after they built the fantastic Apple World Headquarters, at
the now famous, One Infinite Loop, address in Cupertino, he still would
drive to work on that same motorcycle, and pretty much the same jeans.
This annoyed the more recent Apple leadership and employees who felt it
was incumbent upon them to sport a new cleaner image, and after warning
after warning, they finally started locking the big front doors when he
drove up looking like that; in fact there are any number of pictures of
him and the motorcycle in all their greasy glory in the magazine layout
stories of the day.
Jobs would simply walk around the building, find open doors or windows,
and proceed to his office as if nothing happened.
The new well dressed elite started patrolling all the doors and windows
to keep him at bay, but he always seemed to outsmart them, even to some
points arranging meetings outside the building.
However, his greatest achievement in this war of attrition, was to lock
his own door in a way they couldn't get in, and then just leave windows
unlocked in the office, which he would then climb into.
The result, after months and months was that he was fired.
Pretty cheesy, in my personal opinion.
However, at least they were smart enough to hire him back.
Now we have to find out how they can really do without him.
The Real Importance of Steve Jobs
However, Steve Jobs is more important that iPods, iPads, even iPhones--
though these are ALL incredibly important inventions that we should not
really be able to understand the importance of for some time to come as
the world is just not ready to give anyone that much credit.
However, in our own world of eBooks, right here and now, we should give
credit that more people are able to read eBooks on Steve Jobs invention
of iPods, iPads and iPhones and their clones, than on all the computers
and all the eReaders in the world!
How is that?
There are over five billion active cellphones in the world today.
There are over one billion active computers and eReaders today.
Pretty wide stretch to compare and more and more cellphones are now the
smartphones that can do more and more with eBooks every single day.
In My Own Opinion
In my own opinion the inventions of Steve Jobs and their successors and
clones have transformed the world in a way the world has only changed a
few times from inventions before:
Gutenberg's Printing Press
The cause of the literacy revolution, the education revolution, and The
Scientific Revolution and The Industrial Revolution.
Edison's Invention Factory
Creator of the electric light, repeating telegraph, stock market ticker
and the phonograph or record player, the electron tube, etc.
I'm not sure even Charlemagne, Alexander, or Caesar changed as much via
the turnings of history.
At any rate, I've probably said enough, and would simply like to extend
my own personal thanks and offer of credit due to Steve Jobs.
Without him, my dreams of a world of eBooks might still be just dreams.