Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011: Computers and Hyperbole

For once, the rumors were right. A celebrity really is dead. Steve Jobs' life and death were major news yesterday

World Leaders and Steve Jobs: Not Bad for a Kid From the Apricot Orchards

"World tributes pour in for Steve Jobs"
Laura Smith-Spark, CNN (October 6, 2011)

"International leaders in politics and business are paying tribute Thursday to Apple visionary Steve Jobs, whose death at age 56 has saddened many around the world.

" 'Steve Jobs transformed the way we work and play; a creative genius who will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family,' British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted.

"French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote on his Facebook page that Jobs was a great entrepreneur, innovator and major player in the world's technological revolution.

" 'As inspired as he was inspiring, Steve Jobs will remain one of the great figures of our time,' Sarkozy said, as he paid tribute to the American's courage in both his work and personal life.

"Ireland's Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Enda Kenny also gave his condolences in a statement paying tribute to the man who brought the world the iPod portable music player, the iPhone and the iPad tablet...."

There's more of the same as the article goes on. Steve Jobs, once Apple CEO and Chairman, made a difference. A big difference. Around the world. A whole lot of national leaders have said so: occasionally online.

Not bad for some kid from California's apricot orchards.

End of an Era? Yes - End of the Innovators? Not Likely

"Apple's Steve Jobs Dies at 56"
Associated Press, via (October 6, 2011)

"Steve Jobs saw the future and led the world to it. He moved technology from garages to pockets, took entertainment from discs to bytes and turned gadgets into extensions of the people who use them.

"Jobs, who founded and ran Apple, told us what we needed before we wanted it.

" 'To some people, this is like Elvis Presley or John Lennon. It's a change in our times. It's the end of an era,' said Scott Robbins, 34, a barber and an Apple fan. 'It's like the end of the innovators.'..."

"End of the innovators?" "THE innovators??" What, we've seen the last of folks like Αρχιμήδης, 諸葛亮, Benjamin Franklin, or Nikolas Tesla? Somehow, the steel industry endured the passing of Bessemer, movies survived the death of Disney, and the Lemming thinks we haven't seen the end of innovation. Not even close.

Remember the story about the fellow who said the United States Patent Office should close, because everything that could be invented: had been invented? In 1900 or so? It may not be true: but that's not the point.

Over-the-top hyperbole and Elvis aside, Steve Jobs has been one of the big innovators, and - in the Lemming's opinion - an even better publicist for information technology. He will be missed.

Back to that Associated Press piece:

"...President Barack Obama said in a statement that Jobs 'exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity.'

" 'Steve was among the greatest of American innovators -- brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world and talented enough to do it,' he said.

"Jobs had battled cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant in 2009 after taking a leave of absence for unspecified health problems. He took another leave of absence in January -- his third since his health problems began -- and resigned in August. Jobs became Apple's chairman and handed the CEO job over to his hand-picked successor, Tim Cook....

"...The news Apple fans and shareholders had been dreading came the day after Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, a device that got a lukewarm reception. Perhaps, there would have been more excitement had Jobs been well enough to show it off with his trademark theatrics.

"Jobs started Apple with a high school friend in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, was forced out a decade later and returned in 1997 to rescue the company. During his second stint, it grew into the most valuable technology company in the world with a market value of $351 billion. Almost all that wealth has been created since Jobs' return....

"...He helped change computers from a geeky hobbyist's obsession to a necessity of modern life at work and home, and in the process he upended not just personal technology but the cellphone and music industries.

"For transformation of American industry, he has few rivals. He has long been linked to his personal computer-age contemporary, Bill Gates, and has drawn comparisons to other creative geniuses such as Walt Disney. Jobs died as Walt Disney Co.'s largest shareholder, a by-product of his decision to sell computer animation studio Pixar in 2006...."

One more thing before moving on. The Lemming learned a lot from doing time in American academia, but let's get real. Some outfits insist on seeing on that piece of paper colleges and universities swap for time served need a college education. Folks who want to work for a bureaucracy need a diploma.

Others can pick up the experience they want long before graduation. Steve Jobs is one of them.

Here's how Mr. Jobs explained the advantages of being a college dropout:

"...'All of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it,' he said at a Stanford University commencement address in 2005. 'I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out.'

"When he returned to California in 1974, Jobs worked for video game maker Atari and attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club -- a group of computer hobbyists -- with Steve Wozniak, a high school friend who was a few years older.

"Wozniak's homemade computer drew attention from other enthusiasts, but Jobs saw its potential far beyond the geeky hobbyists of the time. The pair started Apple Computer Inc. in Jobs' parents' garage in 1976. According to Wozniak, Jobs suggested the name after visiting an "apple orchard" that Wozniak said was actually a commune.

"Their first creation was the Apple I -- essentially, the guts of a computer without a case, keyboard or monitor......."
(Associated Press, via

That's when the world changed.

World Leaders, Nerds, and Steve Jobs

"Tributes for Apple 'visionary' Steve Jobs"
BBC News US & Canada (October 6, 2011)

"World and business leaders have been paying tribute to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who has died at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer.

"US President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev said Mr Jobs had changed the world.

"Microsoft's Bill Gates said it had been 'an insanely great honour' to work with him. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg remembered his 'mentor and friend'.

"The Twitter microblog site struggled to cope with the traffic of tributes...."

After quite a great deal more of that, BBC gets to what the Lemming thinks is a really major contribution Steve Jobs gave the world:

"...Mr Jobs built a reputation as a forthright and demanding leader who could take niche technologies - such as the mouse and graphical user interface, using onscreen icons rather than text - and make them popular with the general public. ..."
(BBC News US & Canada)

Nerds who read this? Please don't be offended by what's coming: the Lemming's something of a nerd. More than 'something,' according to #3 daughter.

Nerds are great people: some are also geeks. But the most brilliantly innovative nerdy geek could develop a world-changing technology: and live in obscurity until the nerdy geek's socially ept (why not?? 'the opposite of inept') sibling showed the world why they wanted - and needed - wind-powered automatic ear wax removers. ("It'll blow your mind!")

"Steve Jobs is the Chairman of the Board...."?!

"Steve Jobs" (still online, as of noon (Central) October 7, 2011)

"Steve Jobs is the Chairman of the Board of Apple, which he co-founded in 1976. Apple is leading the consumer technology world with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, its family of iPod media players and iTunes media store, and its Mac computers and iLife and iWork application suites. Apple recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

"Steve also co-founded and was the CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, which created some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Ratatouille. Pixar merged with The Walt Disney Company in 2006 and Steve now serves on Disney's board of directors.

"Steve grew up in the apricot orchards which later became known as Silicon Valley, and still lives there with his family."

"Steve Jobs is the Chairman of the Board of Apple...." "Is?" Present tense?? The Lemming can think of several explanations, some more plausible than others. Steve Jobs:
  1. Isn't dead, he's
    1. Secretly running Apple from a bunker in northern Minnesota
    2. One of the shape shifting, space alien, lizard men who run the world
    3. Been forced out of Apple and is hiding in
      • A bunker in northern Minnesota
      • A secret basement under Apple headquarters
      • A Bangkok warehouse
  2. Is dead
    1. Apple will
      • Learn to cope without Mr Jobs
      • Become a Dilbertesque American corporation
    2. He's
      • Secretly running Apple from a bunker in northern Minnesota
        • Communicating with Tim Cook through a magic iPod of his own design
        • Telepathically influencing the operations of Apple
          • Which he's done since his death in 1985
            • In a freak lab accident
      • The victim of a conspiracy involving
Maybe the Lemming shouldn't make jokes about this. Apart from the matter of poor taste, there's the possibility that someone's going to believe one or more of those crazy conspiracy theories.

Seriously, Has a very nice, tasteful, splash screen up, with a monochrome portrait of Steve Jobs, his name, and 1955-2011. Folks working there probably have better things to do at the moment, than updating Mr. Jobs' bio page.

And, for the record, the Lemming figures that #2A is what's really going on. Seriously: Elvis?

Sort-of-related posts:


Brigid said...

In on? "Some outfits insist in seeing on that piece of paper"

Odd capitalization: "Seriously, Has a very nice, tasteful"

And I don't think you need a period there: "than updating Mr. Jobs' bio. page."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


About the vowel, " 'close' only counts in horseshoes." Found and fixed. The "" capitalization - it's odd, but so is "," since it's part of a URL that's also a proper name. Which is sort of why I put a period after the word "bio." A bio was a contraction of the word "biography" for quite a bit of my life, and still is: but now it's arguably also a word in its own right.

Tidied up, fixed, and thanks!

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