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Me and Steve Jobs

10/10/2011

Of course I never met the guy and he certainly wouldn’t have heard of me. But I was strangely affected when I heard the news of his death – similar, bizarrely, to hearing about the death of  Michael Jackson and Princess Diana.  He was a figure that has been around in the background of my life for since the eighties.  My first computer was an Apple iiC which had a 128 KB of RAM compared to my current iMac (probably the iiC’s direct decendent) which chugs along on 4 GB (over 4 million KB) of RAM but this is hardly the top of the range model and is already over four years old.  The iiC had no hard drive and ran everything from  5¼-inch floppy disc drive that could store just 140 KB of data.  You were endlessly swapping discs to boot the computer, run applications and save work.     After that I was tempted over to the dark side  (I had a clunky XT running DOS and then a Pentium in the early days Windows) because I was convinced that market forces would ultimately destroy the viability of Macs and the inferior PC would win out – although it struck me as being inherently unfair that Windows should ride to victory on the back of an Apple innovation; the “windows” environment. But thankfully my scepticism or perhaps general cynicism (and that of many others) has not panned out  – largely thanks to the unbounded passion and vision of Steve Jobs who just kept coming up with ideas while at the same time ruthlessly depreciating older technologies – starting with the floppy discs but ending with  sophisticated proprietorial software such as Flash (which some of us miss).  I would even argue that he made music CDs redundant by building ripping capabilities into iTunes to make it a bit less profitable to release music on CD.  But it is this uncompromising hard headedness combined with a responsiveness and intellect that can see the possibilities for technology, that has changed our lives.  I haven’t always agreed with him; particularly in the last couple of years when he has seemed to side against the democratic principles of the internet by denigrating blogging in favour of “editorial oversight” in his “I don’t want America to descend to a nation of bloggers” address and then sided with Rupert Murdoch to launch the internet venture The Daily.  This corporate conversion took place when he was the CEO of what would very soon become the world largest corporation.   The fact that he got the company to such a position is extraordinary but he did it by making technology accessible and meaningful.

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