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Steve Jobs Myths
A couple of other Steve Jobs myths that should be addressed:
1) He was an innovator
Jobs was never an innovator. He surrounded himself with innovative people and ideas, and could see the potential in them that others couldn't. He saw how to take these ideas and package them into something that people would relate to and and desire. That's important - but it's not innovation.
2) He invented the personal computer
Most people agree that personal computers were around well before Woz started his project, but it is said that Jobs was responsible for inventing the idea of a consumer packaged, easy to use personal computer. In fact, that was an idea that was in the collective conscious of the time. In January 1977 - the year the Apple ][ was released, Commodore had displayed a (non-functioning) prototype PET 2001. The PET was a complete consumer package with everything built in including the monitor. A couple of months after the Apple ][ release Tandy released the TRS-80 Model 1, another complete consumer package. In fact, both the Tandy and Commodore computers were more complete and sold at around half the price of the Apple ][. The biggest difference was that the Apple ][ had colour graphics and expansion slots - Woz's ideas not Jobs'.
I hope that nobody still believes the myth that Jobs stole the GUI from Xerox PARC; it has been well known for a long time that the ideas were shared as part of mutual deal. I also agree that Jobs' behaviour as a young man, especially regarding his daughter, should not be the behaviour upon which he is judged as an adult. Nonetheless, to deify him and ignore his consistently offensive and abusive behaviour, and the damage he has done to open and free computing is wrong. Recognise the great things he has done, but don't credit him for things he wasn't or didn't do.
Mike Elgan's response?
+Andrew Stephen Jobs was the ultimate innovator. What the F are you talking about? Yes, he was better than many competitors are choosing great people. That's part of the innovation process. But he was clearly in charge of Apple's direction for the last dozen years or so. Gimme a break.
OK, can someone please tell me one single product that Apple, NeXT or Steve Jobs produced that was more than "third mover" refinement of existing ideas and products? Is third mover refinement innovation? Maybe I have the whole idea of innovation wrong - maybe doing what someone else does, only better, is innovation after all. And I'm not being sarcastic here either - I think of innovation as creating something new, that others have not thought of before, but I could have it wrong.
What I can credit Jobs for innovating is marketing, by which I don't mean just advertising, but designing products in a way that they capture the minds and wallets of their market. He was good at capturing minds and wallets.
Woz invented the personal computer. The Trash-80 and all the rest were personal computers, but they didn't lead to the computers we have today. They were dead-end technologies.
Err. OK. You got me on this one Mike Elgan.
What did Woz do with the Apple ][ Rev 0 that "invented the personal computer"? My thoughts:
- He gave it colour graphics;
- He gave it expansion slots, despite Jobs trying to get him to remove them;
- He designed it badly enough that they had to outsource a PCB re-design to make it reliable;
- He let Jobs make it beige. Was the Apple ][ the first beige computer?
The Apple II series were extremely expensive compared to their competition, and the TRS-80 and PET series both massively out-sold Apple well into the 80s. By the time the Apple II series started to over take the market, Jobs was actively trying to kill them off (along with the Lisa project) in favour of the Macintosh.