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The Press Reacts To Steve Jobs' Departure — in 1985 207

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-know-what-they-were-missing dept.
harrymcc writes "After reading a ton of stories about Steve Jobs' decision to step down as Apple's CEO, I turned the clock back and read a bunch about the first time he did so — unwillingly — in 1985. Some observers thought his departure would have little impact on Apple; others seemed to believe it was a great idea. And the Washington Post's T.R. Reid figured out that an Apple that chose to eject Jobs would be a profoundly lesser place."
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The Press Reacts To Steve Jobs' Departure — in 1985

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  • by backslashdot (95548) * on Thursday August 25, 2011 @10:12PM (#37215116)

    The quote from Nolan Bushnell at the end pretty much sums up the truth.

    “Where is Apple’s inspiration going to come from? Is Apple going to have all the romance of a new brand of Pepsi?”

    LOL

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @11:06PM (#37215430) Journal

    Actually, and I'm sure I'll get hate for saying this, it was Gates who saved his ass. Of course we know Gates didn't do it out of the goodness of his heart, he did it to keep from being the only OS company and thus a big ass target to regulators but he did save his ass.

    Not only did Gates cut a big fat check for Apple stock which at the time really wasn't doing squat, but also there was serious fears that nobody was gonna waste money developing for a "dying" platform. Having the head of one of the largest software companies on the planet come out and say 'I think the Mac has a great future and we at Microsoft are committed to supporting the Mac with our software" and then announcing a long term deal to supply MS Office really killed a lot of the skittishness. After that at the next MacWorld you saw tons of companies jump on board because if MSFT thought there was money to be made? Maybe there was.

    Don't get me wrong, once Jobs had the money he was fricking brilliant, killing all the huge lines of confusing plastic crap and making a small line of sleek and sexy products, one hit after another. But when Jobs first came back there was serious talk that Apple was a "dead" system (I know, funny now right?) and that Jobs didn't have a prayer of stopping the death spiral. Gates may be a ruthless bastard but if he hadn't helped out Apple at the right time and gave Jobs the funds and breathing room he needed to rebuild the line things could have turned out VERY differently.

    I just wonder how well Cook is gonna be able to break balls and steer the ship, because from everything I've read he has been more of a supply chain guy. Apple under Jobs has always been Steve's vision of perfection, like it or not, so we'll just have to see if after the products that were already in the pipeline have come and gone if Cook can come up with new markets to slaughter like Jobs did.

    Either way Via Con Dios Steve, you truly deserve to be in that tiny room of visionaries that can say "I changed the way things are done".

  • by epine (68316) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @11:09PM (#37215448)

    Schindler: There's no way I could have known this before, but there was always something missing. In every business I tried, I can see now it wasn't me that had failed. Something was missing. Even if I'd known what it was, there's nothing I could have done about it, because you can't create this thing. And it makes all the difference in the world between success and failure.
    Emilie: Luck.
    Schindler: War.

    Steve was ahead of his time in the 1980s. He was a trendy gadget maker stuck in the PC business. His early attempts to gadgify the PC mostly lead to vanity art, and vanity will only get you 10% of the market, unless you can pull it out of your pocket in public display.

    On his HID aesthetic, it turns out the mouse had a correct solution: one button for selecting, a second button to summon a menu of actions (where your eyes are already looking), and a wheel for scrolling in between the two buttons. This is simpler than your telephone, simpler than your steering wheel, simpler than your stereo/VCR/TV/digital alarm clock/wrist watch. Hardly anyone who wasn't suffering post-traumatic Luddite syndrome would have found such a mouse difficult to operate, even in 1985. He directed his wrath at the mouse, when he should have directed his wrath at the worthless scroll-bars, which mostly take up valuable space to little effect, though we have a lot more of that now. He was always catering to "out of box" comfort zone, rather the comfort zone people grow into when they finally figure out how to make the hay fly. Just what everyone in the 1980s really needed: a good $4000 in-store experience for ten minutes, followed by three years of window thrashing.

    Way back, I had an opportunity to visit Parc and sit in front of what I recall as a Xerox Dorado (which I vaguely recall as consisting of $50,000 of ECL circuitry--I've recently done some LVPECL design work, and I *know* what that implies on the global warming front). The mouse had three buttons and was hideously complicated during my first ten minutes of grokage. I can understand why Apple didn't replicate a three-button Jack-in-the-Box for your average consumer.

    But for Jobs, far enough was never far enough until it was too far. Step two: defend the decision as if moral rectitude and reproductive fitness hangs in the balance. The winning conditions for Steve Jobs was a device that fits in your pocket which costs roughly $1000/year to operate. This was the business he was really building in the first place, long before this model was right for the world.

    Jobs paced himself more or less the same way as Andre Agassi's father. Andre had a rough patch, but seems to have recovered, for the most part, and there was much success along with the hardship. Jobs never wanted the PC to have a healthy adolescence, in which order arises from chaos. Which is fine, but he scorned the people getting on with what needed to happen, which is far less OK.

    In the larger view, perhaps it takes twenty years of demanding too much too soon to suddenly discover you're the man of the decade. Jobs did a fair amount of damage to common sense with his premature vision of appliancehood. But like Schindler, when the winning conditions finally arrived he acquitted himself at a level rarely achieved in life.

    I'm no fan of his bullshit years, though I admire his crowning achievement (which I'm tempted to cite as clang/LLVM, but that's just me).

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @11:22PM (#37215506)

    Huh. Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9 were both released under Jobs' guard. Apple was able to sell slick looking hardware with it. (The iMac G3 may look dated today, but it was something out of this world in the late 1990s.)

    Incidentally, Apple was already working on a replacement (Copland). Even though it was ultimately deemed a failure, Apple worked on it for roughly 2 years. In contrast, it took nearly 4 years to get Mac OS X out the door and most Mac users wouldn't even touch that until 10.2 came out. Would Copland have saved the day if it was released? I don't know, but it may have.

    And what is it with people's inabilities to distinguish between non-multitasking and cooperative multitasking these days?

  • Re:Brilliant idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday August 26, 2011 @01:47AM (#37216178) Journal

    Actually, I'm going to take the opposite tack.

    Apple was far more litigious when Steve Jobs left. It was a Jobs-less Apple that sued Microsoft over the "look-and-feel" of Windows 2.0. There were spats throughout the '90s over QuickTime and TrueType (some valid). When Jobs came back, one of the first things he did was sign a patent cross-licensing agreement with Microsoft to get rid of all the lawsuits between the companies and get on with the task of coming up with the next big thing.

    One could argue that since Steve has been gone on medical leaves, we've seen Apple litigating instead of innovating. Most of the new and notable features of iOS 5 bring it to parity with Android. Where's the "skating to where the puck will be?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:45AM (#37219700)

    PROTIP: Everyone in Germany had a smartphone with more functionality that the iPhone ever had (like the ability to run Java, or to replace the battery) before any iDevice was a glimmer in Jobs's eyes. And I don't even need to mention Japan.
    We listened to MP3s on them, and we still do. So what's the point of a separate player? More memory? My phone got *infinite* memory. With the help of teeny-tiny 8+GB cards that can be taken out of the slot and are so small that 20-30 of them are smaller than a single pack of gum.

    It's just that the US was so depraved of new technology because the dominant players in your "free market" (aka. law of the jungle) tried to lock everything away and ask a premium for it, that in *comparison* the iPhone looked like something awesome to you.
    Despite it being the worst smartphone on the market here in Germany. (And I'm not saying that out of some irrational fanboyism. I compared all phones back then, read tests and everything. I was completely open. It just was a piece of shit, *compared* to what else I could get. That's all.)

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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