Steve Jobs Steps Down from Apple

 Posted by on August 25, 2011  Add comments
Aug 252011
 

Jobs is gone.

Now what?  Is this the end of iStuff?

I don’t know much about his successor, Tim Cook, apart from the fact that he fits the profile for obsessional CEOs of huge companies everywhere, getting up at four in the morning to send emails, working out in the gym till he collapses and bullying everyone around him.  This is known in some circles as a work ethic, and in others as having no life.  Not much change from Jobs then, but is Cook’s reality-distortion field as powerful?  Can he bend the cold light of day?  Can he persuade everyone at Apple that his vision for a web-browsing, lawn-mowing toaster is going to change the world?

I don’t know.

Jobs was always a bit of a chancer.  He was more salesman than engineer and only for Wozniak, he might have been nobody, but he did have one clear vision: ordinary people should not have to wrestle with geeky shit to make their equipment work, and for this I like him.

Years ago, we struggled with desktop machines running ridiculous things like CP/M and even more ridiculous mainframe behemoths running I have no idea what.  Even then, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I couldn’t understand why anyone should have to know even one line of code to make something work after they had paid huge money for it.  If CP/M was silly, MS-DOS made it even worse: Gates’s ludicrous operating system couldn’t address more than 640k of memory, which meant that after buying the computer for gigantic money and then buying some absurd word processor like Word Perfect which forced you to remember dozens of commands to do the simplest task, and which forced you to imagine what your finished document was going to look like, you still had to go out and buy something like DESQview and QEMM to make the thing work even half right.

Unix was better, but only in the sense that it didn’t keep falling over like DOS.  On the other hand, you had to remember even more ridiculous commands like awk and grep and finger.  You still do, because geeks and nerds don’t care about ordinary people as long as they get enough Slayer t-shirts, pizzas and bootleg copies of computer games.

Jobs saw that this was all bullshit.  When you put your clothes in the washing machine, you don’t have to rewire the pump.  When you start your car, you don’t have to calculate the spark voltage or estimate the viscosity of diesel.  It just starts.

I’ll never forget the first time I played poker on an Apple.  It was nothing fancy: just a game of cards, but they looked like real cards and I didn’t have to remember to type Ctrl-anything.  The machine just did what it was supposed to do and I was so entranced by the thing I played it all night.

Why was I entranced?  Because I was used to terrible DOS-based PCs and astounded that a machine might just work, with no complicated commands or IT geeks looking down on me because I didn’t choose to learn their stupid language.

For one reason or another, I never actually bought an Apple of my own.  It didn’t suit me to do so because I needed to be in the Windows world for work and other reasons, and yet there are geeks in my life today who say that an ordinary laptop can easily be transformed into a Mac with a few simple modifications.  I don’t know about that, because I know little of the underlying hardware, but I believe them.

Maybe the Apple build quality is superior, but I doubt it.  The difference is in the style and the approach, which is why I bought myself an iPod as soon as I could, but not before making the mistake of getting a Creative Labs thing the size of a brick with a horrible interface that never worked properly.  I was glad when I accidentally dropped it while it was still running.  By contrast, the iPod was clean and white and sexy.  I liked it very much, even though I knew Apple were playing with my impulse-buttons.  I didn’t need an iPod.  I just wanted one, and who wouldn’t?

It was the same with the iPhone and the iPad, though I didn’t personally find myself quite so seduced by them.  My HTC is better than the iPhone, and having seen the Asus competitor, I won’t be getting an iPad, but that’s not the point.  Jobs imagined the concepts or at least, he reimagined them after Gene Roddenberry, and he beamed his micro-managing insistence at his staff, his fellow board members and his friends until they all crumbled under the power of his mind-wave.

My neighbour has an ultra-sleek Mac on his desk.  It’s more than a computer.  It’s a sculpture. A statement. A bookmark in space.  If I had a Mac like  that, I’d need to buy a New York loft apartment, a Saluki and a full set of Hüsker Dü vinyl for the days when Philip Glass just doesn’t cut it.

That’s Apple for you, and that’s the reach of Jobs’s reality distortion field.  He makes me think I have a karate black belt, drive Gary Cooper’s Duesenberg and live in a converted Brooklyn bank.

Bill Gates never made me think any thoughts apart from murdering him.

  15 Responses to “Steve Jobs Steps Down from Apple”

Comments (15)
  1.  

    Ah CP/M and xStuff, those were the days…

    http://db.tt/NSLPqBm
    :)

  2.  

    “there are geeks in my life today who say that an ordinary laptop can easily be transformed into a Mac with a few simple modifications.”

    How to build a Hackintosh http://lifehacker.com/5815715/how-to-build-a-hackintosh-mini-for-less-than-600

    I’ve a loan of a Macbook Pro from work but I hardly use it, just don’t see the fuss in them. Apple’s stuff is swish but too bloody expensive imho.

    Steve Jobs has done an incredible er, job, at Apple. Stock up over 6,000% since his return in 97/98. http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-stock-under-steve-jobs-2011-8

  3.  

    Strong design driven concepts yes, but the really original ideas can be found in work by for example Mark Weiser, http://nano.xerox.com/weiser/
    The only difference that “made it” is that Jobs realised how this could fit into fulfilling “everybody”‘s needs, in everyday settings.

  4.  

    That’s right, in the very same way that Gates lifted DOS from its original creator. But the difference was that Jobs could see how to satisfy the ordinary Joe’s needs, at a price.

  5.  

    “geeks and nerds don’t care about ordinary people as long as they get enough Slayer t-shirts, pizzas and bootleg copies of computer games.”

    As Robert X. Cringely said in his excellent documentary charting the rise of the PC, Triumph of the nerds, Why do geeks like such complicated things? Because for one, such logic can be understood, as opposed to things that can’t be understood at all, like the motivations of young women for example.

  6.  

    Like your good self I was entranced by the iPod (and still love it)from the beginning. For me it was an almost perfect combination of form and function. In my opinion, the iPhone was/is not in the same league, and my iPad has been almost unused since I was given one a few months ago. Other people I’ve spoken to have followed the same arc.

  7.  

    Great post, really well written. I ould almost smell the fresh coffee in your New York loft apartment.
    Not easymake me smile this hour of the morning.
    If Iwas an Apple executive and I read this post,I’d be shouting at the developement team right now ‘Get me this Bock guy on the phone, He’s my new Ideas Man’ Unfortunately I’m not though. But if I was……..

  8.  

    Like silver said in comment #1 – great piece there Mr. Author. (Herr Bock – is there collaboration with monsieur le geek here? )

    Didn’t realize that jobs was such an evil cunt. remember reading once that the 1st next machine he designed was motivated by revenge – the things looked menacing – intimidating.

    9000 % – yes, that’s 9000 % and actually slightly more – what is? the value that apple rose by during his tenure (after he returned).
    I can’t afford a i lifestyle but i like the whole touchy feely thing – smooth babee – goin to get me an android pretty dam soon bud.

  9.  

    No collaboration this time, Mr Sniffle. All based on painful experience.

  10.  

    Hey, I guess I’m the one with the Asus! It’s called Transformer and has a detachable keyboard and runs Android. Highly recommended. Have used the iPad, this is better.

    ::

  11.  

    good article although I feel obliged to point out that Gates did not make DOS to only allow 640K RAM as part of some evil scheme – it was a limitation of the 8086 processor that it could only address 1MB of RAM, with 384 being reserved for system memory. Hence 640K being only available for user programs….Apple’s machines had a lot of limitations as well, the difference being that since they also designed the hardware they could avoid some issues )except where it came from the CPU which they didn’t design)…good example being that the original macs could only support 128 fonts.
    By the time the 802/3/86 came around, the ability to address more memory was already built into dos using himem.sys (granted it was a bit of a pain to get it to work all the time but to be honest this was more app developers refusing to do it right as opposed to any deliberate attempt on Gate’s part to stymie them)

  12.  

    God. Himem.sys. Forgot about that.

  13.  

    Computer News.
    Tim Cook in charge of Apple? Wait for the headlines….

    ”Cook promises to improve Apple turnover”.

  14.  

    I like Asus Transformer too, I’m saving for one actually . Personally I don’t understand Apple euphoria but I can’t deny it exists.

  15.  

    Ahhh, the good old days of Autoexec.bat, himem sys, ansi.com and loads of other esoteric (at the time) coding.
    I remember setting up a multiple boot menu using autoexec.bat and some coding internally to facilitate a multiple choice list at boot-up for a different set-up of the auld dos box (a dell 387 with the included maths co-processor, this followed on from the compulsory C64) if you were running games to maximise memory available or actually going to do some work or even run windows (Pre 3.11 days :-).
    It ended up with a 7 choice menu in the finish for setup depending on what you wanted to do.
    Remember Rogue, hitchikers guide to the galaxy and the 4 colour cga version of a game with a sopwith camel in it, what was that called?

    EDIT: it was actually called sopwith :-)

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