Tribute to Steve Jobs

17 Sep

About 2 /2 weeks ago, I got an iPad2. It, unfortunately, coincided accidentally, with Steve Jobs’ announcement that he was stepping down from Apple as the CEO. Clearly a sad moment as not only is he a great man and a transforming force in business but it is also sad to know that someone’s dad, husband, best friend, etc. is dying way too young of a terrible disease. Having lost my dad when I was only 30 and he was only 60, that news hit too close to home. I remember having to go to Maytag Dairy Farms to deliver the news of my dad’s diagnosis to his staff, and that for the time being, he would not be coming back to the office. The tears that staff shed were very real, and that was a very tough day.

So I decided that day that I got the Steve Jobs news, that I’d honor him by writing a blog post about him and my viewpoints of his products’ transforming impact on our world, by writing a post on my iPad. It has taken me about 2 1/2 weeks to become somewhat proficient at typing on this thing, although I do have to say that it is a very Sysiphis-like exercise. For every five or six words I type, I have to correct probably three of them. Nonetheless this post was written entirely using native touchscreen keyboard on my iPad. As my friend Collin, at work has on his iPhone’s email signature, paraphrased: Please abuse any hippos. Sent from hi iPad.

Even though my friend “1.1” (GASHM’s wife), would find this hard to believe, I was a very early adopter and fan of the Apple brand ages ago – like 1978. Back then my dad, as CEO/President of Maytag Dairy Farms in Iowa, came home from work one day to tell me that his “boss” – the man that owned the Dairy Farms, Fritz Maytag, had called him to say that he was going to send him a new computer – one of those “Apple” computers from that new company in San Francisco. For my beer swilling friends, yes, this is the same Fritz Maytag that is widely regarded as the father of the craft brewing/microbrewery movement as the founder/owner if Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, maker of Anchor Steam beer.

Fritz, by benefit of having been born very well, and being a good businessman besides, had invested in this little startup called Apple, and was friends with young Mr, Jobs and his sidekick Steve Wozniak, Fritz had bought a few Apple IIs and sent my dad one to use for the business,

For those that haven’t seen an Apple II, it was pretty ingenious. In a package about the size of an IBM Selectric typewriter, it was the first truly “micro” computer. It was built with a pop off cover that you could open to install push-in expansion cards for things like memory, floppy drives, tape drives, monitor video, modems, etc. All of which were external boxes around it. It really was pretty ingenious, even though by today’s standards, an iPod shuffle has more processing power, and all those cables and boxes made it pretty kludgey.

My dad’s Apple II used a 10-inch black and white TV as a monitor, had a dual external floppy drive, and a modem, He used it to run Visi Calc, the fossil DNA of which still can be found in Microsoft Excel. He kept the Dairy Farms’ books on it, and used the scorching 300 baud speed of the modem to connect to Fritz’s Apple II in San Francisco and pass the spreadsheet files back and forth. They also had a rudimentary database program that they dabbled with, and then in addition, my dad had a game called Apple Adventure that my mom would play. It was the original “situation” game and the interface was simply words. “You are standing on a road at the edge of a misty forest…”. My mom was obsessed with that game.

Fast forward a few years and I suddenly became immersed in the Apple brand. I was a Junior at University of Iowa, and was working at Team Electonics in the Sycamore Mall and we were an Apple dealership. At the time the Apple II and Apple III were the go to products, and Apple introduced the Apple IIc. This was touted as the first “portable” computeer. It was a repackaged Apple II with a built-in floppy drive, embedded modem and video card, etc. It wasn’t upgradable, but you could put it in a bag and lug it somewhere, it really was the first laptop. Of course it didn’t have a built-in monitor, which was external. I managed to win a IIc in a sales contest. I bought a daisy-wheel printer for it and used it for word processing. As a journalism major, it was transforming – no more typing articles and papers on a typewriter. I haven’t used one since,

While I was there at Team, Apple launched the Macintosh. January 1984. Remember the Superbowl ad? That computer was again transforming – mouses, icons, graphic user interfaces, drop down menus, icons, trash cans, windows, etc., every bit of our modern computer interfaces that we still use today were part of the original Mac experience. Talk about transforming!! It is hard to estimate the impact of that, I could have bought one for as little as $700 but since I already had the IIc, I didn’t. Still regret that decision!

[Does anyone else but me notice that the girl in this ad is dressed like a Hooters waitress?]

That was really the start of Apple’s transforming of our world. Every major category of personal technology we use today was either invented by or transformed by Steve Jobs and Apple. Personal music was sort of invented by Sony with the Walkman, but it was the IPod that kicked it to the level it is today. The first “smartphones” were the Blackberry prod
ucts, but the iPhone defined the category. And the iPad drives the tablet revolution.The world’s techies and pundits are wondering “what could be the next transforming revolution from Apple and Steve Jobs?”. What I hope he has left behind is a culture of “how could we think differently”. Because that, among every other achievement, is exactly what Steve Jobs did. He thought differently. It is a challenge I try to give myself every day.

 Transform your thinking, transform your world.

Thanks Steve Jobs!
As you were,

Stew

(full disclosure: the photos and media in this were added after I got done typing this on my iPad. But I did manage to type the whole thing on my iPad!)

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2 Responses to “Tribute to Steve Jobs”

  1. carpetbagger September 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    I am a shamefully late adopter. Got my first Apple product in 2005. Now, I’m all in. For all those years, all my jobs were so PC-based, I couldn’t make the shift. All my friends who were teachers, graphic designers, and musicians were all Apple folks and I envied them. Now, finally, I’m one of them. Now that Jobs is leaving, of course.

  2. Vicki Hackney Enright May 11, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Beautiful tribute to your friend Mr. Maytag!

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