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Classic Steve Jobs

When I was in college, I was a member and pseudo-leader of a group called the DUsers, which was actually the first Mac user group in the country, founded at Drexel University in 1984. There are other groups that will also claim to be the first, but they are blasphemers with no evidence to back up their claim. My friend Jason, who has occasionally co-blogged on here, wrote a Shareware game for the old black and white Macs, and last I heard still had a check from Steve Wozniak somewhere, who apparently thought his game was pretty cool and decided to pay for it. The DUsers were absorbed into another student group a number of years ago, and I don’t know what’s happened to them since. I also don’t know what happened to a lot of our vintage archival material.

Once being a Mac user went from being Geek to Chic, a lot of the old user groups died out, and while the Apple community has gained substantially, it has lost something in becoming the “in” thing. I was part of the community when Apple was getting steamrolled by Microsoft, and being an Mac aficionado was something a bit odd, rather than stylish. It is in that spirit I share this with you. It is classic Steve Jobs. Cordial, and at the same time arrogant, but also speaking the brutal truth:

For those of us who were Mac users during the days of John Scully, Michael Spindler, and Gil Amelio, what could also be charitably referred to as “the dark years,” it’s hard to imagine what Apple will be like, once again, without Steve Jobs at the helm. Does Tim Cook have the minerals? We shall see. Google is a much tougher competitor than Microsoft ever was, and operating systems, at this point, are easily commoditized.

Those of us that have been around the Apple world for a while might remember that before Apple bought NeXT back in 1996, it was also rumored to be flirting with Be Inc, maker of the BeBox, which ran BeOS. Be was lead by Jean-Louis Gassee, who was probably every bit Job’s equal when it came to personality. Gassee was once famously, and humorously quoted as saying:

“For God’s sake, don’t compare us to NeXT. We want to be a better tool for developers, not to be tasteful. We don’t cost $10,000. We have a floppy drive. We do not defecate on developers.”

Of course, Apple ultimately bought NeXT, rather than BeOS, and Steve Jobs proceeded to rearrange the Apple board, and orchestrate his return to the helm. How different of a world it would be today if instead of bringing back Steve Jobs with Apple’s acquisition of NeXT, they had bought Be Inc, and with it Jean-Louis Gassee?

7 Responses to “Classic Steve Jobs”

  1. ExurbanKevin says:

    I’ve spent the last hour watching Jobs at WWDC 1997, his re-introduction to Apple after NeXTStep was bought out but before he became iCeo, and it’s *mesmerizing*.

    Choice quotes: “You have to start with the customer experience and then work backward to the technology. You can’t start out with the technology and then figure out how to try to sell it.”

    “I don’t expect the Federal government to break up Microsoft for a lot reasons, the least of which is the Federal government is itself a monopoly. They’re buddies!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnO7D5UaDig

  2. Kirk says:

    As an apple user going back to 79 with an Apple II I am deeply saddened at the passing of Steve.

    I remember banging on a corporate windows machine in 97 with a great deal of despair, thinking that this was as good as it was going to get.

    When Steve came back to Apple and released the Bondi Blue iMac it was a breath of fresh air. It only got better from there with OS X and now all of the iProducts.

    It is sad to know that the RDF Generator has been switched into standby…

  3. Sigivald says:

    operating systems, at this point, are easily commoditized

    That’s not at all clear, really.

    Experience suggests that for the most part, people actually care about how not-shitty their OS is (and how familiar it is, which is another axis entirely).

    That’s why cheap linux netbooks got returned so often (and arguably why OSX keeps gaining sales year over year, despite completely ignoring the bottom-end market) – because the OS is not really a commodity.

    It might be a commodity between Windows and OSX, sort of. But it’s not like “any old OS” will work. It won’t.

  4. ExurbanKevin says:

    Operating systems are a commodity. User experience is not.

  5. Ian Argent says:

    UX is a matter of taste, though.

  6. Robert says:

    Apple lost me after I got suckered into getting a IIGS. Nobody wanted to release anything for it, and the only compiler I could find for it was buggy as hell. Sold it as quick as I could find someone else to be the sucker, and never touched apple ever again.

  7. Sebastian says:

    There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the IIgs :)

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