Posted by: COSI | August 25, 2011

Jobs Steps Down -A Huge Day In The History of Technology, A Personally Sad One For Me

Steve Jobs

The cover for Steve's authorized biography due in November 2011

I’m tapping this blog out on an iPad 2. I just checked the weather on my iPhone. Last night I was on the original iMac getting some old files to transfer to the new iMac I use at home. Along the way I was looking at a new App I was considering downloading from iTunes. During this my wife Dottie was doing e-mail on her MacBook Pro laptop, a machine she’s learning to use more expansively through her classes at our local Apple Store.

All of this current technology within a brilliant system was driven by the creative genius of one man who attracts other geniuses around him–Steve Jobs.

My life has been incredibly intertwined with Apple Computer. My adult life has developed professionally with the company and the fascinating personal path of Jobs, someone just a bit younger than myself. At times I’ve had a love-hate with Jobs, but I’ve come to respect his unique vision and ability to project that vision into whole new ways in which we work with technology. I am feeling this end of an era personally.

As someone who started my collegiate training on the path to be an electrical engineer I had to go through programming, something that was disastrous for me on the old mainframes with the cards and awkward syntax of Fortran. It was only as I was working on my next degree that I became proficient in Basic on one of the odd varieties of early computers.

And then Apple entered my life-in the form of the black Apple distributed by Bell & Howell that ended up in my classroom by default as I became the first teacher using computers at our school. That was quickly followed by the Apple II which became a mainstay at our schools and was at one point ubiquitous in schools.

At that time Steve Wozniak was my Apple hero–with me being a techie, it was his engineering brilliance in designing those original computers that impressed me. The other Steve (Jobs) was the somewhat arrogant promoter.

But I still remember when Jobs threw out to all of us the first 3.5 inch disk and drive which was an incredible advancement at the time in being able to store programs and data. It was useful as I ended up with the privilege of leading a small team that established the first high school program in the country to require the use of computers.

The computer and it’s enabling program that we built our initiative upon–the Apple IIc and AppleWorks (chosen against the wishes of many parents, corporate leaders woven into IBM at work). Then my relationship with Apple, Wozniak, and Jobs took off.

With our development of a nationally noteworthy program, we won an award from Apple. I wrote the curriculum for using AppleWorks as it was originally designed as a business tool. I found a publisher who turned the curriculum into a best selling school resource, then had me write others. I launched what became an international newsletter to help teachers max the potential of the Apple and AppleWorks in their classroom.

This all caught the attention of Apple and I became a contractor for them advising and developing tools to help schools use the Apple in schools. I was hired to become a featured speaker and workshop leader at AppleFest (the precursor of Macfest where Jobs has made many of the more recent announcements of these paradigm changing applications of technology).

I was flown to San Francisco and Boston multiple times for AppleFest. I was flown to Cupertino and spent time on the Apple campus—a heady experience still strong in my dimming memory banks.

I met Steve Wozniak and even bought a Wozniak signed Apple IIGS which later was the platform for writing my doctoral thesis and doing the necessary statistical analysis.

Then Jobs made me furious by making a corporate decision to leave the Apple II line and focus on the Macintosh. Hadn’t he already fallen on his face with the Lisa? I really came to dislike him at that point as he ignored the pleas from me and millions of other Apple II users to change his mind.

What I didn’t realize at that time was that that was one of the first occasions where he truly showed his brilliant qualities–his willingness to completely abandon current strong products and technologies for something new that would knowingly give the death knell to that which was currently so strong. He could see and imagine a different future so foreign from the present, uninformed by focus groups watering an idea down to middle of the road, and arrogantly throw it out there and tell us we’d love it without us even knowing how to use it.

But then we’d pick it up, grudgingly (in the early days for some of us, excitedly now for most of us) and fall in love with this foreign technology and it’s enabling software.

So now I can have my young granddaughter, even before she was two, sit on my lap and intuitively flip through my iPhone to find her favorite ap or without me knowing get into my iPhone camera and take pictures around the house!

My life interwove with Apple in many more ways, far too much for the blog (and probably for anyone’s patience to read). I was an observer of many of Jobs’ life steps — being forced out of Apple, starting Pixar (we often forget his brilliant work away from Apple), and finally returning to save the company and interweave his vision with how we now conduct our daily lives.

It has pained me to watch his increasingly thin and frail stature still stride out onto stage to reveal, still with enthusiasm and singular confidence, the latest bit of brilliance he has set his great team off to create from whole cloth.

We knew this day was coming when he could no longer keep this going. The day is here and it’s sad. But our lives, and certainly my life, has been enhanced through his work.

Thanks Steve–my respect came grudgingly, but it is rock solid now and I’m grateful I had a bit role on the fringe of Apple’s journey into our lives and society. I wish you well in your continued battle for health.

Sent from my iPad

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