My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Steve Jobs, it seems, was an asshole.
(Something I have been accused of on more than one occasion.)
The fact is, many “great men” in history are recognized more for their caricatures than their true personalities. Society tends to forget the everyone, even celebrities, are flawed human beings regardless of how the world at large perceives them.
I’ve been on a kick in the past year for reading books about (and by) people who have created and run successful businesses. This is partly out of personal interest, but also because my own “hobby” seems to be pretending, against all semblance of logic, to be a “business.”
(See: Green Mustard Entertainment – http://www.greenmustard.com.)
Let’s talk about Steve and Fruit Computers, though.
I was already a fan of the made for TV movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley long before picking up this book, so my familiarity with some of the folklore (“Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.” – etc.) was already pretty established.
What I didn’t know was the details and (if you’ll allow the cliche) we all know that’s where the devil is. Walter Isaacson did a great job of walking the balance of telling the story of a man who had already reached celebrity of an almost cult status without completely drinking the Kool-Aid. He showed Steve for all his mistakes and glorious accomplishments in a even flowing and well organized tale.
In the end, Steve’s vision of creating the “ultimate user experience” reminded me of conversations I have about how my team and I design our fan conventions. (We tend to use the word “experience” a lot, too.) Thus, my curiosity was piqued regarding Apple computers after reading this book. My last Apple “experience” was in the late 1980s and involved the only Apple computer I ever owned: The Apple IIc.
The IIc was was my introduction into the world of computers. We didn’t have fancy schmancy stuff like “graphical user interfaces” and “mice.” You would spend hours typing in code on a monochrome screen with a flashing cursor and THAT is how you made shit happen. Many an “A” in school was earned because my book reports looked better since they were typed instead of hand written. My Apple IIc and a dot matrix printer made me THE nerd at my school. (Pocket protector not included.)
Since those glory days of being a would-be middle school hacker, I have evolved into a Windows user. I started with 3.11 and pretty much never looked back. I’ve installed Windows on floppies, CDs, DVDs, and who the hell knows how I’m going to get Windows 8 on my desktop later this year. Needless to say, I skipped the whole Macintosh period of personal computing over the previous two decades.
A couple of months ago, Apple announced their new model year computers which meant (like cars) the old versions would soon drop in price. With all my recent travelling via airplane, I began to toy with the idea of partaking in the “Apple experience” via a MacBook Air 11-inch.
Finally, one Sunday about four weeks ago, I used up some Best Buy reward coupons and took home my first Apple in over 20 years: https://twitter.com/TomCroom/status/214418106427256833
It’s been a month since then and I’ve learned the joys of personal computing made simple. It’s not perfect, but it ONE THING that I haven’t really had in computing since the days of coding BASIC on a double sided 5 1⁄4 inch floppy…
Well played, Mr. Jobs. Well played.