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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is dead.

The combination of pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant meant the odds were inevitably stacked against him. (The immunosuppressants needed to prevent organ rejection would impair his immune system's ability to respond to a recurrence of the cancer, making a relapse much more likely.) In medicine, even great wealth can't buy miracles. There are no exotic magic bullets than can be yours for just a few million dollars more — just increasingly desperate experimental treatments that fail more often than not. In general, either we can treat a condition, and do so relatively cheaply, or we can't: the grim reaper is the ultimate equal opportunity employer.

He was by all accounts a driven man — not merely a workaholic, but a visionary with a touch of megalomania. Once his illness became public knowledge his level of activity, already frenetic, became that of a man desperate to complete his life's work. People like that don't go gently into the dark night. They don't leave the office unless they're dragged away on a stretcher. When he resigned as CEO of Apple in August, I expected him to be dead within a week; I'm surprised he lasted this long.

I'm typing this blog entry on a keyboard plugged into an Apple 23" Cinema Display fronting a late 2010 Macbook Air. On the desk to my left is an iPad 2: to my right, an iPhone 4. That alone should tell you what I think of the quality of the products he nurtured.

Even if you're not an Apple customer, the computer you're reading this on probably has a mouse attached to it, or is a tablet. In which case, you've benefited indirectly from the ideas he ruthlessly championed. Steve Jobs didn't invent the graphical user interface, or even manage the product development of the first computer Apple brought to market that had a GUI: but he pushed it forward, dragging it out of the lab and making personal computers accessible to hundreds of millions of ordinary people. He didn't invent the smartphone or the multi-touch interface either: but again, he saw potential and drove them in a direction that in hindsight should have been obvious to everyone, but that for some reason wasn't. Oh, and he bought a film studio and made some Oscar-winning movies along the way.

I will be very happy indeed if, when it's my time to go, I can do so in the knowledge that I've brightened the lives of even a thousandth as many people as Steve Jobs.

150 Comments

1:

Just to comment on your opening paragraph, Jobs had a treatable form of pancreatic cancer, but chose to go the "alternative medicine" route instead: http://www.skepticblog.org/2011/10/06/steve-jobs-succumbs-to-alternative-medicine/

It probably killed him.

2:

Yes, I know that. However I thought it would be tasteless to make a fuss about it on the front page on the day of his death.

(I should note that it was thanks to Steve that my wife was able to eat happily in the canteen at 1 Infinite Loop last month. There were vegan options on the menu, natch.)

3:

It was just a coffee shop rather than the canteen, but I did see the canteen menu and could have eaten happily there.

sliabh: having been on the receiving end of cancer treatment, I can well understand why someone would put it off for as long as possible. I've only needed surgery so far, but I'm still thinking the treatment was worse than the disease.

4:

By chance I was re-installing OS-X on my old iBook last night. After running the install I wanted to check that no hardware drivers needed updating (since I was reverting to a marginally earlier version of OS-X to fix some sort of corrupt file) and went on line to Apple's site. Which of course had replaced its normal front page with a huge picture of Jobs and his dates of birth and death, they must have announced it just after after I saw the TV news earlier in the evening. Felt very odd I should just be doing the rebuild at that moment in history, but I suppose hundreds of people do it every day.

While I've always been primarily a DOS / Windows user, at home and almost exclusively at work, there's no denying that Jobs and Apple had a huge influence on computing, not just in style and look and feel but in basic stuff like reliability. The problems I've been having that prompted me to reinstall would have seemed like normal behaviour on my last laptop, which ran Windows 98, it was a miracle when that one was able to connect to WiFi at all. A lot of the credit for the change goes to Jobs.

5:

Yeah, I remember when my mum was having radiotherapy for breast cancer, following fairly extensive surgery. It was a pretty shite thing to go through and it lasted months. Still, she's alive over a decade later, and I can't begin to say how glad I am of that.

6:

Like a lot of people who hang out here, I spend much of my working day in front of a computer. Averaged over sixty-odd years, any change for the better in this experience--no matter how negligible--represents a major improvement in my quality of life. So, more than any of the money I've spent on his products, I owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Jobs. Obviously, there's the Apple aesthetic to think of, as well the forward-looking vision. However, his greatest success for me was this: he made things that work.

The lifecycle of software objects may be short, but I think his achievements will resonate for quite a while yet.

7:

I never thought I'd ever weep for an American billionaire, but this morning I did.

I've been watching Steve present his keynotes for over 10 years and to think that I'll never see another is incredibly sad. The greatest tragedy is that he died so young. Were it not for his illness, I believe Steve would've worked long into his later years. We can only imagine how he would have influenced the world over the next 10-20 years.

RIP Steve, you were a real inspiration.

8:

["no exotic magic bullets than" should be "no exotic magic bullets that" /typo police]

9:

sliabh @ 1: The Skeptiblog link doesn't work, so I can't check what they say. However Orac has blogged about Jobs' cancer and he hasn't mentioned anything about Jobs choosing alternative medicine over real cancer treatment.
For those who aren't familiar with Orac, he's a blogging cancer surgeon and cancer researcher; so he knows what he's talking about. You can read his posts about Jobs'cancer here.

10:

Yah, I thought he'd do a Freddie Mercury and die within a day or two of letting us know he was quiting. There was no chance he was going to retire to an island and sit around drinking (apple?) martinis until he passed.

I'm kind of surprised at the amount of selfless mourning I've been seeing around the 'net. Steve AKA Apple changed *my* life since the 1970s and that makes *me* sad, I haven't really had time to think of the impact it's having on anyone else.

The man seriously changed the world. How cool is that?

11:

No matter what the official naming story is, I'll always think of the iPhone 4S as the "4 Steve" model.

12:

> Yes, I know that. However I thought it would be tasteless to make a fuss about it on the front page on the day of his death.

A few years ago we (me, my wife and few friends) lost our friend who had a cancer but could not be dragged in a hospital because she preferred "natural remedies".

It might be tasteless to make a fuss, but it might have a small chance to save some lives. People succumb to this silliness all the time. This would not mean disrespect to Jobs, just as we are not mourning our friend less because she made some silly choises.

13:

My dad chose the naturopathic route when his colon cancer recurred (he had chemo and surgery the first time). He was going to go conventional for the recurrence, but had a severe allergic reaction to the first round of chemo. He tried pretty much everything else - diet, herbs, infrared sauna, reiki, massage - and had a fairly healthy year after the second diagnosis.
I'm still conflicted about that, 9 months after he died: on the one hand, I support a person's right to choose their treatment. On the other, with a change in chemo drugs, he might still be here.
Charlie said it best: "Cancer can fuck off".

14:

Cancer treatment can be a very ugly business indeed, so I'm disinclined to criticize The Steve for seeking alternatives first. I'd rather think about his product presentations, exhibiting obvious delight at the new toys he was showing off.

15:

My half-sister had a bladder tumour that went undiagnosed for a long time (her GP thought it was a persistant infection). When a locum had it scanned, she was immediately put on chemo and radiation therapy, but it didn't do any good, and she was dead within three months of diagnosis. Towards the end she was injecting herself with some quack nostrum made from nettles.

A friend of mine had breast cancer. Surgery and chemo stopped that for a while, but then it came back four years later. I don't know the exact details, but I think a second bout of chemo did no good, and she went back home to Seoul to die. She was desperately trying traditional Chinese medicine near the end.

I sincerely hope that if I ever get diagnosed with cancer, I won't even be tempted to mess around with the alternatives, certainly not before I've exhausted modern medicine's possibilities.

16:

why do people go for these alternative remedies?
dont they realise that the real medicine has been tested and found to work?

17:

Here are the relevant parts of the article:

> Seven or eight years ago, the news broke that Steve Jobs had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but considering it a private matter, he delayed in informing Apple’s board, and Apple’s board delayed in informing the shareholders. So what. The only delay that really mattered was that Steve, it turned out, had been treating his pancreatic cancer with a special diet and other alternative therapies, prescribed by his naturopath.

> Most pancreatic cancers are aggressive and always terminal, but Steve was lucky (if you can call it that) and had a rare form called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which is actually quite treatable with excellent survival rates — if caught soon enough. The median survival is about a decade, but it depends on how soon it’s removed surgically. Steve caught his very early, and should have expected to survive much longer than a decade. Unfortunately Steve relied on a naturopathic diet instead of early surgery. There is no evidence that diet has any effect on islet cell carcinoma. As he dieted for nine months, the tumor progressed, and took him from the high end to the low end of the survival rate.

Eventually it became clear to all involved that his alternative therapy wasn’t working, and from then on, by all accounts, Steve aggressively threw money at the best that medical science could offer. But it was too late. He had a Whipple procedure. He had a liver transplant. And then he died, all too young.

19:

Define work - radiation and chemotherapy may increase your chances of survival, but they aren't guaranteed, and the side-effects range from uncomfortable to life-threatening in themselves.
If I get diagnosed with the big C (and with the amount in my family, I rather expect to be), I'll be investigating every option, within and without the medical system.

20:

The chance to get cancer during your lifetime in the USA is roughly between 33% and 50% depending on where you live. (Usually worse if your state is famous for chemical industry and/or having lots of oil refineries.)

http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DCPC_INCA/DCPC_INCA.aspx

So, it is entirely possible to have a lot of cancer cases in a family and still be a victim of nothing worse than plain old bad luck ... but only because cancer is so prevalent in societies where people live beyond 70 years on average and haven't yet found a cure for it. (Once we do that, expect an epidemic of another symptom of time not having stopped as we age that we can't cure yet.)

21:

Other things Jobs didn't invent but did put into your computer:

Ethernet. WLAN. USB.

Other thing he didn't invent but was invented using one of his computers:

the World Wide Web.

Thing I remember:

At Mobile Comms International in 2007 I really didn't get why anyone would care about an expensive 2G device with no text tools when you could have a Nokia N95 or E61. Only later did I see a report that the biggest single group of first generation iPhone users had switched from the Motorola RAZR (which had by that point the worst customer satisfaction rating in industry history).

Moto's RTOS -> BSD Unix. Really dreadful build quality -> anodised aluminium and optical glass. Some J2ME thing -> Safari Mobile. Tiny 9-pad keys -> big, good touchscreen (at the time only made by a tiny German firm, Balda AG).

No wonder everybody loved them.

22:

Best commencement speech ever (Stanford 2005 – Look it up on Youtube). Watch it every couple of months for inspiration. Remembering him as the person he was, not for his accomplishments (iPhone, Ipad, etc.). Great man, great inspiration. “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.

Mike W

23:

I had a relative who died that way: next of kind was a ditz and refused to admit he had cancer (much less, a terminal brain tumour) until he stopped breathing. Admittedly, in his case the treatment options were non-existent (diagnosis to death was six months; surgery was impossible, radiation was impossible, ditto chemotherapy). I still have a sore spot about his palliative care (or lack thereof). However: delivering the message at the wrong time can do more harm than good, because offended people not only stop listening, but discount the advice that was offered.

24:

Because (a) conventional western medical approaches to cancer treatment are incredibly brutal, (b) they don't always work (they're just statistically more likely to succeed than doing nothing), (c) they're expensive, and (d) not everybody has a clue how their bodies work or what the state of medical knowledge is.

Your assumptions are therefore flat-out wrong.

(MODERATION NOTE: If this thread shows signs of diving into "cancer patients -- idiots, or what?" I am likely to start handing out yellow cards. Because I've had two close family members undergo cancer treatment in the past 12 months and it is something of a sore topic right now.)

25:

@21:

Other things Jobs didn't invent but did put into your computer: Ethernet.

Wasn't Apple fairly late in switching to both ethernet and TCP/IP? Appletalk originally ran over serial lines and I can remember circa 1990 running a protocol gateway box that converted serial line Appletalk to ethernet based TCP/IP. It was a total PITA, forever crashing, but our executives loved their Macs even though the rest of us used Unix workstations.

26:

Serial AppleTalk ran over RS-422 serial, if I remember correctly. Worked a bit like old-style thin ethernet, daisy-chaining transponders and terminators and all, except at only 0.25mbps. However, it was available from the original Mac in 1984 -- at a time when barely any commercial ethernet kit was available for PCs. By the late 80s Apple was pushing Ethertalk as an alternative (AppleTalk over Ethernet). Their TCP/IP control panel was a bit of a Johnny-come-Latey for MacOS 6.0.x, but it was in place before 1990 for sure.

27:

I think Jobs was also a sharp-suit who extracted loadsamoney, but, but ... the ideas and the designs forced everyone else to WAKE UP!

As for the big "C", well CHarlie and F.
Someone i know very well has said that if she gets it, unless the diagnosis is very early, she's going to refuse treatment - it isn't worth it.
Um.

28:

I'd also like to point out that unless one was Steve Jobs, his doctor, his family, or his very close friend, one did not know anything about his treatment.

He discussed the cancer; he admitted to a liver transplant. And that was it. Everything else is purely speculation based on that, and guessing. (Some intelligent guessing -- I've seen a couple of doctors write interesting essays about what they thought was going on. But they at least admitted it was guessing.)

30:

I'd like to take this opportunity to praise Steve Wozniak and point out that it is extremely rare that the world sees such a duo as the Steve Wozniak-Steve Jobs collaboration.

Wozniak was/is an outrageously talented genius. People who are genius level inventors in both the hardware field and also in the software field are very rare. Those that are usually don't have a super-salesman friend fascinated with hi-tech. Eckert and Mauchly stumbled along because of the lack of sales smarts and Hewlett and Packard didn't create revolutionary products, just marvelously useful ones.

If it it weren't for the fact that Wozniak was such an outstanding genius and that he was willing to be prodded and pushed by his friend Jobs into actually finishing the Apple II there would have been no Apple company, no Mac, no ipods no iPads. There would have been no steady stream of revenue over decades (Wozniak kept refining the original Apple II) to keep Apple Inc. afloat after the Apple III disaster, and to let people like Jef Raskin experiment year after year with projects that led to the first Mac.

31:

"Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Computers and the only American in the country who had any clue what the fuck he was doing, died Wednesday at the age of 56."

As usual, The Onion hits it out of the park.

32:

Two of my heroes in the same day. RIP Steve Jobs, RIP Bert Jansch, both to cancer. Bert had conventional treatment but was very ill towards the end.

I learned to program on an apple ][e using a Commodore PET manual, at the same time as I learned to play on an old classical guitar and a cassette of Bert's first album.

So it goes.

33:

Last spring my wife was diagnosed with early breast cancer. Surgery and 2 months of radiation therapy later she was declared cancer-free. But it took more than a year for her to recuperate from the effects of the radiation (extreme fatigue, weak arm muscles, and recurring Force 5 migraines). And that was a minimal course of radiation with no chemo. I've known people who had extensive chemo and radiation, and the aftereffects were much more severe. I can understand why someone might decide not to subject themselves to that in their last few months of life.

34:

Not on women of child-bearing age it hasn't! That particular group is systematically excluded from the testing programmes and many modern drugs will not be prescribed if there's even the slightest hint or hope of pregnancy. At that point, you're going to grab onto whatever branch is there, however dead and rotten it might be inside.

35:

Whether you are a fanboy or not, there are a lot of folks who depend on Apple products every day (our host has detailed some of his tools,) and I wonder about the chances of Apple continuing to deliver products their customers love. By every comment one reads, Jobs was as integral to the company's direction and products as my heart is integral to my body. I find myself wondering whether in five or ten years they'll be owned by someone like HP -- or the Chinese.

36:

Steve Wozniak has been made a non-person. Jobs was Jobs and we need more like him. But he needed Wozniak. Till he didn't.

37:

Chances are that a real doctor will be honest about your chances (though they will try to play it on the upbeat), whereas a woo doctor will give the impression that his concoction is sure to work.

38:

Unlikely; Apple has spent the past few years building an internal business school to teach personnel "the Apple way", and towards the end Jobs was keeping an increasingly light hand on the tiller. Apple is a large corporation (on the order of 80,000 employees, isn't it?) and as such probably has as much continuity as any other large computer corporation -- such as Microsoft, IBM, or Hewlett-Packard. The latter are a bad example, of course, insofar as they seem to be trying to commit suicide this year, but IBM didn't exactly go down the crapper when Thomas Watson retired, and I expect Apple to be viable for at least a decade in its current form, and probably a lot longer.

39:

Tasteless and factually incorrect in one paragraph.

40:

Thank you, Charlie, for that reply. I found andyf's message extremely triggering.

About half a year after meeting the love of my life, my girlfriend Isabelle was diagnosed with cancer. She got chemo, doctors were optimistic. However the chemo didn't work as well as planned and she had to have more and stronger. It was horrible. It destroyed her hormones, and lots of sensitivity in many nerves, and with that her sexuality (something that was very important to her). That is a side-effect that is almost never mentioned or apparently taken seriously. After all, if you survive, what does it matter if life isn't fun any more? The chemo also affected her brain, even though documentation claims it doesn't cross the blood/brain barrier. Her sensitivity in her nerves recovered a bit, but for instance she never could be tickled any more. It was something she never ever wanted to go through again, and come out even worse. She really really would rather die. Yes, I tried to change her mind, but I could not refute her arguments. So when the cancer came back, much sooner than anticipated, yes she did try alternative treatment. It was something that may or may not work, but she did it consciously. In the end, it didn't help (enough), and she died a year and a half ago...

So yes, I can understand someone not going with the conventional medicine. It would not be my choice, but I do respect it.

41:

Two things:

First, the manner in which an individual deals with illness or death is plainly and simply his or her business. And, if you want to get some feel of just how awful dealing with cancer can be, look at Jay Lake's blog at jlake.com. He is not only a wonderful writer but, his commentary on his cancer has been quite honest, sometimes depressing but always very moving.

Second, like many in this community I have grown quite angry and frustrated with Jobs' walled garden approach to the internet and e-commerce. In spite of that, I admire him. He was rarely, if ever, on the leading edge of technology. But, he was the driving force in making technology accessible to everyone. His pioneering use of the GUI (yes, I know about PARC) made it much easier for non-techies to use personal computers. The rest of his life centered on that and beautiful design. It's hard for me to think of anyone in the last 40 years who has demonstrated more creativity in the enterprise.

He was a genuinely great figure whose influence on commerce and technology will endure for many years.

42:

For what it's worth, boingboing.net have the most considered tribute to Steve Jobs I've seen anywhere today. Worth a look.

43:

Cancer is just a stupid trivial disease - a bit of molecular programming gone wrong and the halt state missing.
Anyway, I was taking to Max More a few weeks ago and asked if Steve Jobs had signed up. The reply was "no comment".

44:

Yeah. That brought back some memories.

45:

[ RED CARD - deleted by moderator. Any other day, it'd be fair comment. Not today. Your other comments are deleted, too. Feel free to post on any other thread; just not this one. ]

46:

No, Jobs knew what would sell, and made it.
Big difference.

47:

So who invented the smartphone with touch screen?

48:

Well, Craig, seeing as you don't see fit as to acquaint us with your hierarchy of values, we can only assume that you see salesmen as participating in an activity that is somehow beneath moral consideration. Bully for you, and all that. For my part, I'd hope that I'm modest enough to credit superlative skills that I don't have as being noteworthy--regardless of whether I agree with the system that fosters them or not.

In any event, as Dirk points out, Jobs didn't sell what he had; he sold what was wanted. And that is what makes him remarkable.

49:

As someone who has sold supplements to pay bills, and understands the need for rigorous science, and has three cancer survivors in her family, and has provided strategic communications consultation to a cancer-related non-profit, let me shed some light on why some people prefer "natural" treatments.

1) They don't like current Western medicine. They have either had a bad experience with prior cancer treatments, have had complications with surgery or medication, or have been harassed or belittled by a doctor in the past. Whatever the cause, they no longer trust the medical establishment.

2) They have no health insurance. Or if they do, their health insurance does not cover certain types of treatment, or certain prescription drugs. These people can pay $100/month in supplements, but not $400 in prescriptions. It's that simple, and that tragic.

3) Cancer treatment -- both its physical impact and the bureaucracy surrounding it -- can be really scary. Nobody likes feeling sick every day. Nobody likes radiation burns. Nobody likes losing hair or getting "chemo brain" or having to take a memory-erasing drug so that they can stay awake for a local surgery. Nobody likes having most of their personal agency hijacked by a copying error. That's not life, that's Brazil.

So, sometimes choosing an alternative isn't about being crazy, or thinking you know better than your doctor. Sometimes it's just dollars and cents. Sometimes it's the only option left for any sort of autonomy. I'm grateful every day for my mother's oncologist, and for the clinical trial another family member is in, and for the nurses and surgeons and clinicians who have saved the lives of the women who enrich my own. But they were lucky. Others are not.

50:

I will not die of cancer.

51:

He was a salesman, but that is not the end of who he was, what he did, or what impact he had.

Either you are being deliberately rude and trolling, or you aren't willing to see what he did and the impact he had. If the latter, I suggest watching The Pirates of Silicon Valley. Or reading the book Hackers.

This is not a place for you to express your hatred of anyone -- Steve Jobs, or the people who admired him. Please keep that in mind.

52:

My wife is undergoing breast cancer treatment right now surgery (done) followed by a long haul of chemotherapy and radiation we are right at the start of , EVERY ONE keeps pushing herbal woo at her and first and exercise programs and everyone has a "friend " this worked for but without any real details. And as we don't live in the uk we are paying ourselves since no medical insurance for chemotherapy whic is a huge - life savings wiped out amount.
But it's worth it for real medicine that might / should work it's NOT for "vitamins" which "might" help.
So selling "vitamins" to pay the bills is slightly less ethical than robbing houses to pay the bills - at least that way your victims would have included the able bodied as well as the sick and desperate.

Re jobs his death sent my daughter into floods of tears as she's scared her mummy might die, I m sorry he's dead and I'm typing on an iPad but he was a businessman not a holy man

53:

Exercise is always a good idea when faced with gruelling medical procedures. Even the slightest bit of extra fitness will help. Ditto, good nutrition or, if not practical, a multivitimin - but only as a supplement, to ensure the body has everything it needs.

Any woo that is good headology, that helps the patient psychologically deal with the situation, makes them feel happier and provides an added bit of placebo effect is only to be scoffed at out of their earshot. But the key word is complementary.

54:

My parents went through much the same thing. Luckily surgery and radiation worked for my mom, and she didn't have to choose woo. But I know people who have simply because it's the only option left. I strongly hope that you and your family are never faced with that choice. And I hope that your wife makes a full recovery and aces her first five years cancer-free. As someone with a family member in a clinical trial, I can tell you there are amazing things being done, and there is reason for hope.

As for my victims, I wasn't aware that I had any. Maybe you're confused, and think that I was lying to people and telling them that vitamins can cure cancer. I wasn't. They can't. I know that. Most people who must resort to alternative medicines know that. They aren't expecting miracles, they're expecting relief. They were exhausted, and sick, and often poor. I wasn't victimizing these people -- the US government was, by not legislating desirable, feasible, or viable healthcare solutions. Me, I was just giving them some ginger pills so they could keep food down.

There are things in my life that I'm ashamed of. Six months' employment helping people learn about the contents of ingredient labels isn't one of them.

55:

I don't think you know what a cult of personality is. You certainly don't know the proper behaviour for a memorial thread.

56:

[ DELETED BY MODERATOR - inappropriate comment on a memorial thread; if you want the closed/FOSS argument, hold it somewhere (anywhere) else. ]

57:

Madelaine A @ 50
That comment is SO USSA as to be unreal!
And THIS is what the majority of the US population WANT, because "socialised medicine is evil and commonist"
You what?

Charlie, Feorag, everyone.
My mother died of general-metastised C when I was first at U.
Really not good.
I lost a close friend to pancreatic C - he hung on long enough to know that his daughter was going to Manchester to do Engineering, like (PhD) Dad did ... I remember Frank frequently. [ You could always tell when he was about, by the gales of laughter ]
My wifes' mother managed to beat the odds for 11 years, but was got in the end.
NOT a pretty subject.
If I got a treatable version, I'd probably go for the treatment, but, like I said, another near here won't.

Don't pontificate, until it happens top YOU, or someone close to you.

Rhialto @ 40
Careful, I don't know if you made anyone else cry - that was a very touching post.

58:

I've often wondered what a graph of "hate for Steve Jobs" vs. "Autism spectrum" would look like. I think it has to do with understanding everything they don't.

59:

Thanks, i agree all these are good things and indeed are all being done in a cmplimentry fashion, my meaning was we keep getting people "recomending" this or that course of action based on someone they vaugely heard of who had a different prognosis (like Oh x person hiked every day during her chemotherapy it really helped her, you should do it, when that person had a far less agressive cancer, smaller opperation and different less toxic chemo program.) then acting huffy when you dont follow their advice

60:

Jobs was a superior kind capitalist. Once he made his money he did many good things with it. It did not all go into Swiss banks and that puts him well ahead of the pack.

61:

IIRC Apple were also an early adopter of SCSI; certainly a Mac II was the first place that I encountered it (in 1990 so I may have got the Mac model designation wrong, but it was the one that looked like a PC, separate monitor + desk-top slab and all), and it was early enough that pretty much no-one fully understood how to fix problems with it.

62:

I dont think it is necessary tasteless to point out the "alternative medicine" thing, if done properly. It may even help to get the message across.

Unfortunately I've seen 1 appropiate handling of that point per every 2000 hate filled diatribes about how the "fool" of Jobs "deserved" to get what he got. Plus Apple sucks.

Way to go. Missing the point ("if he had done the correct thing, he MAY have had a better chance, which is a pity. Please, learn about this experience") by so wide a margin it goes round the circunference of Earth to blast the hateful cretins making it and have collateral damage on the message.

Cancer sucks. Therapy doesnt work as well as we would want (100% of the time in every circunstance), but for the love of God, go to a professional and put your bets in what has a confirmed chance at working. You already got a very crappy hand (depending on the cancer, from somehow bad to horrid), it hurts to accept it, but you have to accept it, and play it as well as you can. No, it is not going to guarantee that you will be around to see your loved ones grow - but it will give you the only real fighting chance, and thats what counts, the real odds of surviving it.

Which of course is a very hard pill to swallow when it is your diagnostic and you would scream to Heaven for a miracle, but again, have to accept it, no other way.

63:

Also, I dont use Apple products, I dont like them or many of the policies of Apple (walled garden and all that), but to deny he was many more things that just a charismatic salesman (something that he was, for sure), and that Apple managed to resurrect & become the defining force in several markets (some create right out of the blue by them, even if the tech was there), is a bit too much.

You dont need to love and admire him as IT Jesus to realize he was one of the most influential persons on our industry, for example, and with good reason. Talent at spotting oportunities, creating a corporate culture that pushes for success and good design, balancing the correct needs of a company in getting products and image and all that outside, and leading said company to become a trendsetter, all the while reaping a lot of appreciation and admiration... well, I dont think there is any other in his class that has achieved it, and thats something that speaks volumes about how special he was.

64:

"So who invented the smartphone with touch screen?"

Oh, I know. I know, ...

IBM in 1993 ("Simon").

Or Ericsson in 2000 (R380).

Or LG in 2006 (LG Prada) (joke).

65:

Indeed. And the HTC TyTN I had offered a somewhat more impressive specification than the first generation iPhone.

But nobody wanted a huge, semiresponsive, ugly, crashy brick. Jobs' distinctive contribution was to insist on products that are *beautiful* and have...integrity of design, rather than just really long laundry lists of spec features.

66:

I wasn't going to post, but I found this comment by William R offensive.

I don't understand the love for Steve Jobs and Apple Computer. That doesn't mean I hated him or deserve to be othered due to your stereotypes of non-neurotypical people.

I think it's a shame that he died, but he was fortunate to have lived such a full life.

67:

MODERATION NOTE: "Craig" is banned from this thread and subsequent comments to the one this is a reply to have been unpublished. Please do not feed the troll.

(In one of the unpubbed comments he admitted to having no sense of decorum. I'll let that stand.]

68:

I wonder if there's a correlation between Apple fans and people who shop at IKEA?

The beautiful design of the iPhones and the other Apple kit dates very quickly -- who still has an Anglepoise iMac on their desk, for example? It is disposable design, to be replaced in a year or two by the next Shiny! much like IKEA furniture and furnishings are use and abuse and dump in the skip. That fashionable fast rev cycle seems to be a particular feature of the mobile phone market but Apple's Next Big Thing marketing policy fits neatly into that type of pump and dump operation.

The one real innovation I can identify to come out of the iPhone phenomenon was the multitouch/multigesture interface and for that plaudits are deserved to whatever lowly engineer came up with it and plaudits to Steve for pushing it out to the masses. The bad thing about having Steve as the front man for Apple was that no-one was ever really aware of the thousands of anonymous peons who actually did the R&D that Steve signed off on, it was Steve and only Steve who was credited with having the genius to produce it. That worked for Apple for a long time but there are downsides to having a single perfect exemplar as your front man as it leaves you scrambing when they get hit by a figurative bus -- see Ferrari and what happened to the company after Enzo kicked the bucket.

69:

I wonder if there's a correlation between Apple fans and people who shop at IKEA?

A tenuous one, at best: IKEA is cheap flat-pack. Meanwhile, the average service life of a Mac is about 2-3 times that of a typical office PC (yes, I know, Macs are more likely to be home machines). You (Robert) may be mistaking my personal upgrade cycle for that of the typical Mac user: I'm not typical. (Full disclosure: Robert and I run this debate quite regularly over a pint of beer.)

Agree completely about the "next big thing" cycle ... but it's not purely an Apple thing so much as it's the life blood of late stage capitalism. Got to get the consumers to buy the next model, or the market collapses.

70:

When I was doing office tech support in 2007-2008 in a couple of very large operations I was regularly working with desktop PCs that were five or six years old which were still in service and perfectly functional. Parts and support by the manufacturers for these older machines were readily available. Laptops were usually a bit younger but there were quite a few in customer hands that were four or five years old; I even worked with Pentium 2-based laptops running NT. I doubt that many folks are still using ten or fifteen year old Apple kit (your 2-3 times service life claim) although a few folks might be. There certainly isn't any support from Apple for kit of that vintage.

71:

Regarding the closed/FOSS argument and other inappropriate topics... Although I'm certainly not going to get into those topics (1; out of respect for Mr Jobs and 2; out of respect for our host), there's one point I want to make.

It's possible to disagree with someone's business decisions and still admire them as a person. I don't have an iPhone because I disagree with the walled garden model. I'm getting more disheartened about the Mac platform because of the App Store model, and so on.

BUT: none of this dims in any way my admiration for Steve Jobs and what he accomplished. He was an incredible technology leader, and he more than anyone else helped put in my pocket the delightful (Android) smartphone that I use for so much of my recreational browsing, book reading and other light entertainment. He made so many incredible innovations possible that it boggles the mind. So what if he didn't pick up a soldering iron to make the prototype iPod (or iMac, or etc etc). Steve Jobs had the genius to recognise genius, and he put together the team that did make those things.

That's what a leader does, and if he did it in a sociopathic way at times - who cares? He wasn't a fundamentally evil person, he was just driven to get results and did it in the only way he knew how. Judge him on how he changed the world, forgive the character flaws and if you disagree with some of his decisions then bite your damn tongue because there has never in the history of humanity been a decision someone didn't disagree with. We're looking at the broad picture of the man, not hunting for trivialities, and that picture is indisputably one of greatness.

The world is richer for his time on it, and poorer for his passing.

So to everyone who wants to put on their sour puss face and find something to pick on, remember one thing. The only reason you care about these things is because the rest of the product is so desirable. If Steve Jobs hadn't applied, Midas-like, the touch of quality to the innovations he masterminded, the inability to do X would be irrelevant. What he created was products that made a majority of people happy, and the rest think "That is brilliant, except for X". When you're remembering Steve Jobs, the man, forget about X. Remember the brilliance instead. It's not hard to find.

Mr Stross: If this comment goes over the thread moderation limits (or the metaphor mixing limits) then I apologise, please remove it. I've just seen too many people hijack the reminiscing to push their own barrow full of irrelevancy... it angries up the blood.

72:

The beautiful design of the iPhones and the other Apple kit dates very quickly

I think this needs a cite, or at least some support? The iDevices look very much like they did in 2007, just now the competition looks just like that as well.

73:

The late 90s early 2000s computers like the Cube, G3 designs (all in ones and towers), and the Apple 20th Anniversary, they looked pretty dated in 2005 to me. The white iMacs and early Macbooks are getting there now. But I think that 5-7 years is a pretty good run for visual design. It's better than the 20+ years where PCs were beige box eyesores.

I think the 90s SGI workstations fared better aesthetically, though that might be due to their rareness.

74:

That probably explains why Apple has no appeal for me.
My ideal PC is a steel box with all its innards easily accessible.

75:

Since we're heading into "the Apple aesthetic" I heard the statement yesterday "you often see Macs in museums, but never see PCs there", and my reaction was "Sure, but you see Macs in design museums, not technical museums".

76:

I rather like writing technical documentation on one of my Mac Pluses. The silence apart from the periodic whirr of the drives is very appealing as is the absence of distractions.

I'd be tempted to use a Lisa for keyboard quality, but they're just a little too inconvenient to get files on and off.

77:

Apple has an easy to open mac, it's just not easy to buy. But the others aren't really that difficult, and an inexpensive PC can be a PITA to open and close. "You pays your money and you makes your choice."

78:

Just a Salesman? If anything (and as a C.E.O he should have been into everything since it's a generalist role) the man was the worlds best example of a Marketeer. I mean that in the fullest sense of that role (which is to understand what the customer thinks they want, understand what you can do, change what they think and change what you do until everything aligns, sales is closing deals with your customer which is totally different). As an engineer I've seen far to much good technology and hard work go down the drain because of poor (or ignorance of) Marketing (especially the Marketing=PR+Advertising misunderstanding which ignores the information flow in the other direction).

Apple's reward for nailing marketing so well is to be only of the most valuable and profitable tech companies around. I hope the masterclass they've delivered with Steve in the central role keeps influencing others for a long time to come - because what I want for christmas is something I don't know i want, but will once i see it - and that's what good marketing creates.

80:

The Woz was/is the other half of the visionary. Because Jobs was "shop-oriented" he was able to do the daily grind of operating a mega-business, all the while having his name on some 300 odd patents.

My son's fire Apple II was Serial No. 000003. I don't know where it is now, but I've heard that Woz and Jobs engraved their names on the insides of the old boxes.

I am on my 9th and 10th Mac, and I started running IBM mainframes getting the original 7 to the Moon. But, the Apple theory was that we all need to harness computing power without having to do the nuts and bolts of JCL, assembler, etc.

All of my macs are named after computers in sci-fi films, like Huey, Dewey and Louie in Silent Running. I was going to name No 11 "Moira", but now I think I'll name her Steve.

81:

Oops: That was "my son's first Apple" /apologies for sloppy proofing.

82:

Average office PC duty life is -- according to various industry surveys -- just 15 months, not 5-6 years.

83:

my computers used to have names, when they crashed.
this one doesnt , so it hasnt got a name yet.
ive found PC cases to be crazy-easy to open ,, the cheaper the better, mind u aesthetically it gets to hide under a desk.
ddad is scottish so I cant really justify spending money on case-pretties

84:

Having had a good read of a number of the obits scattered around, I've come to the conclusion that Steve Jobs was not a nice man. He frequently took advantage of others to line his own pockets, and certainly made a fair few missteps. But that is irrelevant to what he actually became, which was one heck of a visionary able to convince people that what he was promising was what they actually desired, regardless of if a market yet existed.

Every major marketing campaign he was in charge of was a stunning success, backed up by streamlined products, amazing attention to the user experience, and an eye for quality components. He had the ability to find amazing engineers to work with, and an even better ability at getting rid of the ones he couldn't work with.

That skill at both understanding technology and being able to play the political games is incredibly rare, which helps explain his whole cult of personality aura.

I may not have liked the man, but I deeply respect his accomplishments.


All that being said, it will be very interesting to see where Apple goes from here. Last quarter, it became the most valuable company in the world, and the 20th most profitable, but 41% of the profit is based on the iPhone alone.
Apple has reached saturation point in the markets for iPod - sales plateaued several years back. I suspect the iPhone market is close to a similar point - everyone who wants one now has one. The iPad has helped create a new segment, but one which is limited in scope, and somewhat cannibalises from the existing Mac market. I wonder what new genie they can pull from a hat, and whether or not the marketing folks can still blind the mass media to any flaws...

85:

Jesus christ, 15 months? I need to start working for those companies!

What the heck kind of organisation can afford to do that kind of refresh cycle for anything other than executives who want the latest shiny?

Every major corporate I've been involved with sits on a 3-4 yr refresh cycle at best, mostly due to the level of testing that has to go into cutting a new master image, so hardware refreshes tend to coincide with major software changes, and is often offset by region.

Small trendy places, yes, I could see them wanting constant bling mapping updates, but basic office users?

86:

Likewise, with the additional note that if a spec was "good" for running $bloatwareV5.9.63 in 2004, that spec will still work for that software in 2011.

87:

15 months? ...
What the heck kind of organisation can afford to do that kind of refresh cycle for anything other than executives who want the latest shiny?

A lot of small businesses and home users buy cheap Windows PCs and then toss them a year or two later when the stop working. They have no idea how to maintain the hardware or software and refuse to pay anyone to do it. So they buy the cheap junk and toss it after a short time.

Ditto a lot of home users.

If you listen to them they have similar statements they repeat over and over.

Macs cost too much. I can buy the same thing at Joe's Bar and Computer shop for 1/3 the price. (Note they rarely compare Macs to Dell or HP.)

Why pay for software, I get get it for free.

You want HOW MUCH per hour to come in and do what I can do for myself. Get lost.

And so on.

88:

That 15 month number jibes with what I saw and did in a couple of large institutions. There was quite a bit of hand-me-down going on, newer kit displacing older machines down the food chain. Mahogany Row got the Shiniest! stuff in the catalogue (which was a pig to support -- try routing network cables discreetly up the leg of an 18th century Louis Quinze directoire table sometime) while the call-centre boilerrooms were running their single applications on dozens of machines that were six years old and more.

We did go through some out-with-the-old cycles like the time we replaced two thousand perfectly functional CRT monitors in a couple of months with LCD units but that was partly TCO and partly ever-tightening Health and Safety requirements with respect to workplace operations. Old machines that broke Beyond Economic Repair got cannibalised for spares, the memory got used for upgrades to preferred customers etc. In 2007 the sort of machines that got shipped out for disposal were of the Pentium-90 class and only when they were specifically decommissioned -- we kept finding machines like these lurking under desks in various offices doing Stuff that often turned out to be mission-critical carrying out transactions and reconciliations worth millions of pounds a day.

89:

I've never been an Apple fan-boy, but I have to say what makes Apple great seems to be that they actually cared about design quality. I've been going a cheap knock off MP3 player about every 2-3 years and I have to say every time someone whips out an Ipod I see it and think, so thats how these are supposed to work. They seem to really care about making things people enjoy using and engineering as high art.

90:

Steve Jobs and Apple are an interesting study. I "discovered" Macs in 86 and was instantly won over. This from someone who was earning a good living writing code and microcode on shared terminal minis back in the day. True bit fiddling.

But the Mac was far from perfect. And suffered greatly from a lot of bad Steve Jobs decisions at the start. If you read a lot of the accounts of the first few years of the Mac from those involved and look at a lot of how Apple has evolved the Mac over the years you'll see where the iPad is what Jobs really wanted back in the days of the early Mac development. A computer that you could use and not realize it was a computer. Part of this is the walled garden but most people want walled gardens. But it took Apple tossing him out for him to learn to work within the limits of technology. The difference seemed to be he wanted to push technology to the edge while most everyone else wanted to settle for what was just a little ahead of the curve.

The iPhone was sort of a temporary 2nd place. Jobs wanted the iPad first but the technology wasn't there for the larger screens and batteries and such. But a phone could be done so they did it.

And yes, Jobs could be a hard person to deal with. At all levels. But everyone I've read, heard, or talked to who knew him said his being a jerk went along with he wanted a perfect product and if you were int he way, well tough.

The main reason a lot of "gear heads" don't like Apple stuff has parallels in the US car market. (Maybe others but I know this one.) In the 50s and 60s and early 70s there was a huge aftermarket for car parts. Make it pretty. Make it fast. Both. Whatever. And the car nuts derided anyone who didn't want to improve their car over what came from the factory. But times changed. Most folks now look at a car as a means to travel somewhere in comfort. For 99.9999% of the market all they care about the engine is does it turn on when I ask it to and take me where I want to go in the comfort level I've chosen. And this is why the iPhone and iPad were such hits. And now why people are looking at Macs as their own computer more and more.

Jobs was quirky, at times a jerk, but in the end he understood that most people didn't want a computer so much as devices that performed functions they wanted performed. And he created a company that could provide those devices elegantly.

He did change the world.

91:

I work in a small welfare rights charity, and at the other end of the size scale we're doing the exact same thing - PCs are handed down, maintained, fixed and eventually scavenged then recycled. We can't afford to do otherwise, and we are fortunate enough to have a volunteer who can do the stuff we can't do in-house.

The age of disposable electronics made by disposable labourers in appalling conditions has to come to an end eventually, if only because the human and environmental cost is too high.

92:

I could see how someone might need that, it'd look silly in an Apple store though.

93:

I concur with the hand me down cycle. I am a (US) government contractor, so the PC I am typing on is about 4 years old, and had already been excessed by the government proper. It works fine for Office and web, which is all I do at work mostly anyway.

94:

since I work in the printing arm of FedEx I want to point out that our behind-the-counter printers tend to be refreshed about every 18 months but computer hardware is on about a 3-5 year refresh, with major software overhauls about once every 2 years.

95:

I proudly remember when my partner changed jobs and we returned the Toshiba Satellite Pro (2002 vintage - early WinXP and one of the first PCs, I think, with the Intel Centrino WLAN hardware), six years later, still operational without any support events in the meantime.

I had installed a third party firewall and various other security tools and changed a lot of settings as soon as it showed up, and set up a routine for weekly security sweeps, although I deliberately didn't install any run-time AV as I don't believe a computer constantly obsessing about the purity of its thoughts is any healthier than a person doing the same. Is 6 years without a significant security event a record for a WinXP machine?

And it remained perfectly happy, even though I used it for Yorksranter purposes and even took it on a drive test of a Slovakian FLASH OFDM network.

Similarly, I'm still using the Samsung Q45 from 2007, although I run Linux on it.

On the other hand, several of my colleagues seem to get through about a laptop a year.

96:

"Is 6 years without a significant security event a record for a WinXP machine?"

I have a Vaio laptop from 2001 that runs ME.
It is still used because of its serial port

97:

Not to nitpick a wonderful post, but I thought it was worth pointing out that the idea that the immune system helps prevent cancer may be a bit of a fallacy. Cancer cells are generally faster-growing versions of the body's own cells; they're not the foreign entities that the immune system is supposed to attack. So white the immunosuppressant drugs sure wouldn't help, they may not have accelerated the situation, either.

98:

"Is 6 years without a significant security event a record for a WinXP machine?"

Nope. With care and maintenance, Windows holds up pretty well.

99:

The immune system works on Cancer. Its believed that seed Cancers are common and the immune system takes them out. I can't say I an expert but one side of of the family had a lot of it so I try and keep up.
I kept two Mac 2s till this year when I found that the old junk had been dumped. I think Wozniak would have made them work better.

100:

You know you can get a serial port PCI card for under twenty quid, right?

101:

Shame a PCI card won't work in a laptop like Dirk uses.

102:

"Is 6 years without a significant security event a record for a WinXP machine?"
Nope. With care and maintenance, Windows holds up pretty well.

Well as long as you're not on a network with a machine trying to spread its infection via direct attacks that are not yet patched.

Not a knock on Win as most all OS's can be hit but a big part of staying uninfected is staying behind a firewall, keeping unknown machines off your LAN, and safe surfing. (Well to the extent you don't trip up on a rouge ad on a site like the NY Times.)

103:

Sorry, I was assuming he needed a serial port as he had some legacy peripheral that would only work with a serial cable.

If a PCI card is no good, you can get an adaptor or dongle even cheaper.

104:

Is 6 years without a significant security event a record for a WinXP machine?

Nothing like a record, though not too shabby since the maximum possible is only about 40% longer.

There are machines I know of which are running Win2K with no problems yet.

105:

Sorry Mod no disrespect intended, to you or Steve Jobs. I don't like Apple, I don't like MS.
I do believe the reaction to Steve Jobs passing is a bit over the top but there is no doubt he was a pioneer & I'm not surprised.
I enjoyed the blog & again RIP Steve Jobs.

106:

I eventually went out and got a second-hand iPod Classic, when my much-beloved Zen died. Or rather, its battery died, and the machine I really wanted wasn't on the market yet (I want SDXC card support), so I wanted something to fill in.

Right now, I'm using my phone as an MP3 player, because I really, really couldn't use the iPod user interface. It may be very minimalist, but it didn't allow me to get to what I wanted. But then, I'm one of those people who dislike having to use a mouse for anything that's not effectively drawing.

107:

The s/w only runs on XP or less

108:

Ysterday, for two hours Le Point (a french magazine) had "Bill Gates is dead" on its site before someone saw the error.
The only smile most of french nerds had this day ...
I don't use Macs because they are much too expensive for me. I'm a Linux user ... because of the price essentially.
But, well, when there was such a fuss about Princess Diana's death a friend of mine said "Hey ! The only thing she ever done was to be born and married, imagine the noise when someone really important dies like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs". We are all waiting for the song "like a chip in the wind" maybe...
Sad day. Sad era when royalties are still much more important than geniuses ...

109:

Does rockbox run on the Classic?

(I know it works on the 5G, but don't know about the Classic ... if it works at all, it may be a much better match for you.)

110:

Diana got a bigger sendoff than Jobs because she was an icon, or an avatar, of the Goddess archetype

111:

I did.

No really. In 1990 I begged my manager to take my proposals of a fusion of a phone, computer and TV seriously, and to allocate us some budget to develop it.

Wrong place, wrong time.

Ho hum.

112:

Rockbox doesn't support ipod classic unfortunately, soon™

113:

The Acorn Communicator (1985) was phone and computer in one. And I think Sinclair did something similar.

Both bombed.

114:

Does Rockbox run on it? No, Rockbox crawls on it. Rockbox broke the old IBM 4 second rule, badly, and for me, used to sub-second response times from an MP3 player, the result was unusable.

In the attempt to find something that is powerful enough to use, yet old enough not to require iTunes installed on my PC, this was perhaps the best I was going to get. But it wasn't good enough, not for someone used to something with much more grunt.

I do like my Samsung phone as a player. Get me something running Android built from the ground up (i.e. with proper DAC chips), and I'll be very happy. I'm still keeping an eye out for what Cowan is up to, because what I really want is likely to be based on SDXC cards.

ObSteveJobs - the iPod family is an impressive consumer device. It's just not right for all the market. Apple are good at producing a small number of devices that will suit, say, 90% of a market, rather than trying to cover it completely with a much larger, but more fragmentary, range.

115:

And in 1977 I was working at the GEC Hirst Research labs, where I wrote a proposal for an "electronic book". Guess what happened?

116:

Cancer cells produce aberrant proteins which (if one is lucky - that is to say if these proteins get displayed on the outer surface of plasma membrane) get recognised by immune system as 'not normal' and the cells are 'tagged' to be attacked and destroyed.

Enough of molecular biology. R.I.P. Steve Jobs. Maybe he didn't invent the tech himself but he knew how to push the change and what a change it was! As someone said above, he is the one to thank to for my beloved Android smartphone with which, for the first time in my life, I don't get lost in new areas every time I turn more than two corners.

117:

be careful of those surveys, often funded by hardware manufacturers

we also have many pc's in the 5 yearish range. not ideal but they work

118:

Jobs very likely knew he had the less-nasty form of pancreatic cancer before he started the alternative treatments. He wasn't diagnosed because of symptoms, they found a mass on a scan. So it was pretty early. No doubt they quickly did a biopsy, which revealed that it wasn't the rapidly fatal kind.

As Orac points out, the kind of cancer Jobs had can develop very slowly. Some people die with it, but not because of it, without ever having known they had it.

So there's a good chance that he had some time to try alternative treatments, or at least thought he would probably have time.

But after that, he likely had a Whipple procedure, which is about as major as you can get in terms of abdominal cancer surgery, a radical reformatting of your insides. Then, later, he had a liver transplant, which is *also* major traditional surgery.

Later, he apparently tried a Swiss radioactive treatment, which is apparently not alternative woo, but merely experimental and based on sound science.

In a nutshell, the guy at Skeptoid should stick to what he knows, which isn't oncology. Orac is an oncologist.

119:

"I think the 90s SGI workstations fared better aesthetically, though that might be due to their rareness."

The NeXT Cube and NeXTStation, with the monochrome 17" monitor, still look good, IMHO. The color monitors look like any other black CRT, but the greyscale monitor is a bit slimmer and has the cool plastic fins or ribs that match the fins on the Cube.

120:

"Wasn't Apple fairly late in switching to both ethernet and TCP/IP? "

Apple might have been, but Jobs' people put thin and 10baseT ethernet, TCP/IP, even UUCP and the rest of then-current Unix networking, in the NeXT computers starting in 88.

121:

"Steve Wozniak has been made a non-person. Jobs was Jobs and we need more like him. But he needed Wozniak. Till he didn't."

Spare us.

a) Woz is still alive. He's not getting much attention because he's still alive, and he hasn't done anything lately apart from ride his Segway and appear on a dancing competition TV show. Steve Jobs wouldn't be getting this much attention if he'd spent the last 25 years the way Woz has.

b) Woz would have been happy to keep making variants of the Apple I, where you had to solder on a keyboard, power supply, etc. Without Jobs, Woz wouldn't have had enough money to throw the US festivals, etc, because he simply isn't commercially inclined.

122:

"who still has an Anglepoise iMac on their desk"

Which one is that, the G4 with the arm?

I still like that design, actually. It'd probably still sell if the innards were updated, even with the relatively small monitor. Maybe use the hi-res option LCDs from the laptop line, so that there'd be more pixels than the G4s had, but in the same panel size.

Actually, it'd make a pretty sweet iPad stand/dock, too.

123:
Cancer cells produce aberrant proteins which (if one is lucky - that is to say if these proteins get displayed on the outer surface of plasma membrane) get recognised by immune system as 'not normal' and the cells are 'tagged' to be attacked and destroyed.

I was listening to a program today where it was mentioned in passing that Itzhak Perlman had polio in his youth (yet another fact I did not know). Now to people my Mom's age, polio was the scary disease of the day. I'm just old enough to be terrified when she would show me pictures of kids in iron lungs and tell us that she had a friend whose sister who knew someone who was confined to one of the devilish things (I'm also just old enough to have suffered through those grade school duck and cover drills - you know, what you should do in case of a nuclear attack).

These days? I think maybe one person in three my daughter's age actually know what polio is, if they've even heard of it. Maybe I'm still too much the techno-optimist, but I really do think we're on the verge of beating several major types of cancer in a big way. Oh sure, fifty years from now, you'll still get those weird incurable oddities. But breast cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, all that common stuff where you really do know people who have it (if your of a certain age, of course)? In fifty years cases like those will be like what polio is to us now, with the worst-case scenario for most people being the pain and inconvenience of once-a-decade booster shots.

124:

" the man was the worlds best example of a Marketeer"

I think he's more like a Producer/Director, in the film sense.

Consider Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies.

Peter Jackson didn't make the swords and armor, didn't make the 3D models for CGI, didn't implement the crowd simulation and flocking code for the battle scenes, didn't act the parts, didn't write the source material, didn't write the whole script, didn't do the cinematography, didn't do the sound effects, and probably didn't direct all the filming.

Yet, he chose the people who did, and guided their work more or less closely. The result is (whatever you think about the film itself) likely to be unique to Jackson.

The same crew under a different director would produce a different movie, even working from the same script, because a different director would make different choices, would want a different feel for the movie, and might have different standards of quality.

Similarly, had the employees of NeXT been merged into Apple in 1997, but without Jobs' influence, the result would certainly have been a continued Apple death spiral. Gil Amelio certainly wasn't going to transform the combined companies into what Apple has become.

Sure, jobs can market, too. But it's not magic. He can't sell products that nobody wants to buy (iPod HiFi, for instance), XServes, or the no-button iPod Shuffle). He was just as charming in the NeXT days, still had the Reality Distortion Field, but couldn't get enough people to buy the computers, so they stopped making hardware. Eventually, they pretty much stopped selling the operating system, too, because what the customers actually wanted was the software development environment on Windows. So NeXT sold *that*.

The key for Jobs is that hardware fast enough for an OS that met his standards finally became affordable enough to be mainstream rather than costing $5000 and up. And Apple had a built-in market that was large enough to sustain itself. So some of the factors that stymied his marketing efforts at NeXT are no longer obstacles.

125:

Correct, but you got the wrong director:

Jobs was to computers as Stanley Kubrick was to movies. A visionary, committed perfectionist, willing to do anything to ensure that the final product matched his vision without compromises, and with no compunctions about trampling over roadblocks. Willing to be charming or a complete bastard, whichever it took to get results.

You could hand a Kubrick script to another director and you'd get a movie, but it wouldn't be a Stanley Kubrick movie, because there's more to a movie than following a script.

126:

I don't even have to call this an analogy to use this: Jobs was a producer. He found this role at Pixar, and it seems to have fit him perfectly.

As a producer, he bankrolled projects; he brought deals together; he had the final say on who got hired and who didn't; he could nit-pick on aspects big and small -- but also realize that other people might feel strongly and argue back, sometimes convincing him.

(But, of course, he was also more than that. But I like the word 'producer' because of the double meaning.)

127:
You could hand a Kubrick script to another director and you'd get a movie, but it wouldn't be a Stanley Kubrick movie, because there's more to a movie than following a script.

Yet another metaphor to explain why a complete ordered list of base pairs just isn't enough to specify the adult organism's physiognomy.

128:
Woz is still alive. He's not getting much attention because he's still alive, and he hasn't done anything lately apart from ride his Segway and appear on a dancing competition TV show. Steve Jobs wouldn't be getting this much attention if he'd spent the last 25 years the way Woz has.

Despite being largely sympathetic to all the paeans to Jobs, I've got to say that's because the iPhone still looms large as the New Toy in the public's mind.

If he had lived five more years so that Apple's latest consumer offerings were by then just so much ho hum, he wouldn't be getting nearly this much attention. For that matter, it seems that most everyone my daughter's age thinks the iPhone is lame, lame, lame.

He'd still deserve all the tributes and acclaim he's getting now, of course. He just wouldn't get them from a jaded public.

129:

I have to agree with you here. The initial impulse behind Apple's culture was Woz, and up until he stopped attending work, Woz was a great force for good in Apple.

While I generally disagree with his attitudes and assumptions, along with many of his design decisions, it's clear that Jobs was a talented and driven industrial designer and that his choices have had a much greater impact on the world than you could reasonably expect of something sitting so firmly in the demographic it targeted. I wish that Woz would have stayed and continued to be a positive counterpoint influencing designs toward openness and usability, but Jobs was a notoriously unpleasant man to argue with and I cannot blame anyone for avoiding it as much as possible.

I only hope that when Woz dies he will get the credit he deserves. Until then, he continues to make fairly brilliant things for kicks, and every once in a while news of one leaks out.

130:

"Correct, but you got the wrong director:"

Good call. Jackson was the one that came to mind.

Although, Jobs would probably be like a Kubrick whose career culminated with Spielberg- or Cameron-level popular blockbusters.

131:

Woz said he was cut off and pushed out. He invented new computers but could not get backing.

132:

Whenever someone brings up Jobs as producer I think of one of the few interviews he gave in the past decade -- I suspect it was because it was about Pixar rather than about Apple. In the course of the interview the interviewer mentioned that Jobs was famous for keeping closely involved in all phases of Apple development and marketing, and did he handle things the same way at Pixar? Jobs stared at the interviewer a few seconds and then said "If you think I'm going to tell John Lassiter how to make an animated feature, you're crazy."

By all accounts he spent the feature years keeping the most outrageous Disney demands in check, getting the feature teams the resources they needed (including a two year production hiatus on Finding Nemo when the director and story team told him that the script wasn't working and needed a massive rewrite), and sticking it to the Disney board and Michael Eisner whenever possible. (I can't blame him for the last. When Eisner stood up at that Congressional hearing knowing that the Pixar contract said that after ten films either party could end the contract and testified that Steve Jobs had invented the iPod just to make it easy to pirate Disney music I actually said "What the HELL are you doing?" to my TV.)

133:

Irony?

One of Steve Jobs' favorite sayings was "The journey is the reward".

At one point, hard-worked NeXT employees made t-shirts saying "The gurney is the reward".

In the end, though, it was Jobs himself who worked to the very end and ended up on the gurney.

134:

Incidentally, I have a Marketeer. It looks nothing like Steve Jobs.

Excellent and environmentally sound way to move stuff or do loads of shopping if you don't have a car, though.

135:
If he had lived five more years so that Apple's latest consumer offerings were by then just so much ho hum, he wouldn't be getting nearly this much attention. For that matter, it seems that most everyone my daughter's age thinks the iPhone is lame, lame, lame.

He'd still deserve all the tributes and acclaim he's getting now, of course. He just wouldn't get them from a jaded public.

Of course, they said that five years ago. And five years before that.

136:

What makes you think the iPad was the final stage of Jobs' vision? I think he had at least one more thing ...

137:

Not sure whether to think this a fluke, or a harbinger of better days in oncology:
www.pipeline.corante.com/archives/2011/08/12/a_startlingly_good_leukemia_trial.php
Any good news on the subject is a very good thing.

138:
What makes you think the iPad was the final stage of Jobs' vision? I think he had at least one more thing ...

I'd really like to believe you; I'm by no means an Apple user but I'm more than willing to concede that their design decisions influence the industry overall - and to my benefit.

But just what did you have in mind? Off the top of my head I can't think of anything. Certainly not anything that would go along with KISS, say somebody finally getting that mythical chording keyboard right. If anybody could have done it, it would have been Jobs (assuming that's where his interests lay), but it's not exactly something I would expect the usual walled garden users to just pick up.

139:

I'm pretty sure that like all large tech corporations, Apple has a roadmap. The next 12 months are running on rails, with outputs dictated by how soon they can ramp up volume production/nail down the software bugs and go to golden master. (Stuff in this basket includes the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3, plus probably a next-generation Macbook Pro and a replacement for the Mac Pro tower, if they're planning one at all.)

The following 13-24 months are more speculative, but can be considered plausible assuming other corporations are able to provide promised capabilities in the desired time frame. This will include new software (OSX 10.8 development will be under way by now for delivery in 2013-14; ditto iOS 6). There will be plans to EOL elderly product lines (e.g. the iPod Classic) and possibly to introduce new ones (the semi-mythical 11" Macbook Air with an A6 or A7 CPU running a keyboard-oriented version of iOS). There may also be some wild new designs that haven't been weeded out -- the legendary Apple TV (not the iOS-running box, but the thing with the screen), new input devices, whatever. Stuff in the 12-24 month plan is not yet firmed up and may or may not happen.

Finally, there'll be a 25-36 month roadmap based on vapour and promises -- "Intel say they'll deliver a chip that can do X some time in 2014; we need to have an idea of what we can do with it", and so on. This is also the lead time for Apple to throw a couple of gigabucks of their capital at an OEM or VAR to build, say, a factory for 17" retina displays or for the memristor-based solid-state storage that HP have just started beating their chest about; stuff that suppliers need to invest billions in, in order to deliver components on the scale that new Apple products require (a petabyte of RAM here and ten million retina displays there; not many folks can deliver).

These three road maps are normal for any billion dollar and up tech corporation.

What we want to know is whether Apple has a fourth road map, the Hari Seldon Steve Jobs guide to the 21st century. It used to be said that Sony -- under Akio Morita -- was working to a fifty year plan. If so, they went off the rails within a decade of his death. Jobs has apparently spent a lot of his last couple of years on Apple University, an in-house faculty intended to train executives in "the Apple way". I'd be astonished if there wasn't at least an underlying philosophy there, and a speculative road map based on long-term extrapolation of Moore's Law and Koomey's Law.

140:

I understand all of that. But the tributes being paid Jobs are (imho) for specific products. So we've had the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad . . . what specific new product is coming out the pipeline? Because in five years, these will not be the standouts they are now.[1] Just one in a stable, and the short-sighted public - after a mere five years, mind you - will tend to think that things like the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad have always been there. What kind of iPad did you have back in the 50's, Grandpa? will be the order of the day.


[1]Yes, I know "... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order ... what have the Romans done for us?"

141:

What's more, Apple didn't invent any of these categories of things - digital music players, smart phones, tablet PCs - they just made them marketable. Remember when everyone called a personal cassette player a Walkman? This too shall pass.

142:

the tributes being paid Jobs are (imho) for specific products.

Thus betraying the utter lack of insight of the commentators paying such tributes.

The real stand-out creation of Steve Jobs isn't the iphone or the ipod or some piece of hardware -- it's Apple, the corporation. Which, as the smarter pundits recognize, is a corporation that develops products and grows like a start-up -- except that it's a start-up with a gigadollar revenue stream before it gets started on the double-digit percentage annual compound growth.

143:
Thus betraying the utter lack of insight of the commentators paying such tributes.

Er . . . no. Don't confuse what is being said here with what is being said in the world at large.

One more time: my contention is that if Jobs had died five yous later than he actually did, the extravagant public kudos he's been receiving in absentia would be much more muted. And this is because he is linked in the public's eye with the most recent and very material, very physical product offerings - the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

144:

Actually, I misread what you were saying; please excuse my last comment.

145:

Mr Stross, you HAVE brightened lives- I know your books have certainly brightened mine!

146:
These three road maps are normal for any billion dollar and up tech corporation.
What we want to know is whether Apple has a fourth road map, the Hari Seldon Steve Jobs guide to the 21st century. It used to be said that Sony -- under Akio Morita -- was working to a fifty year plan.

Yeah, though I'm skeptical of how useful it would have been. When I worked for Intel we had a 5 year plan in effect at all times; but we made a new one every six months and it was usually totally different from the last.

Some possibilities for Jobs' one more thing:

  • A flexible tablet you can fold up and stick in your pocket.

  • Virtual interfaces in mobile devices, using a pico-projector to display input areas and devices on any handy surface, and cameras to pick up hand and finger movement for input.

  • The first generation of visualization glasses (though I don't know how the mechanical design would work in the 2014-2016 time frame; I'm not sure how to make the required cpu/memory small enough so as not to be clumsy, something Jobs would never tolerate).

  • 147:

    The first generation of visualization glasses

    They already exist. Not made by Apple, and there are two categories: gold-plated and overpriced to MIL-spec, and cheap rubbish (plugs into your iPod to allow you to watch movies in flight).

    The picture is rather like mp3 players before the iPod; rubbishy solid state ones with 64Mb of capacity (yes, Mb, not Gb -- enough to hold about an hour of over-compressed mp3, to compete with the then-ascendant tape walkman) or over-priced and over-sized hard disk ones in the form factor of the portable CD player, or (I'm thinking of Archos here) a 1950s Wurlitzer jukebox that shrank in the wash.

    Given how small some of Apple's computers are getting (I'm thinking of the dedicated ARM processors in the plug ends of their Thunderbolt cables) we may finally be getting into serious visualization glasses territory, if the display power consumption can keep up. Of course, a trend for fat frames and spectacle arms would help with the batteries ...

    148:

    "I understand all of that. But the tributes being paid Jobs are (imho) for specific products. So we've had the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad . . . what specific new product is coming out the pipeline? Because in five years, these will not be the standouts they are now.[1] Just one in a stable, and the short-sighted public - after a mere five years, mind you - will tend to think that things like the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad have always been there. What kind of iPad did you have back in the 50's, Grandpa? will be the order of the day."

    In a way, this is the key question to Jobs' *second* legacy.

    His first was what he did do; his second will be what Apple does now.

    149:

    Yeah, I have an anglepoise iMac on my desk at work; but it essentially never gets used these days, everything is the MacBookPro.

    Still, for longevity: in current active use in the house we have 4 generations of my Mac laptops, back to my ('97?) PowerBook G3 tat the almost 3 year-old plays with. We have the iMac, a G4 cube, and - rather before the rest! - the 1987 Apple II. OK, that is only around for history value; but all of them still work and always have, never an issue. Well, other than when 10.5 borked FileVault; that was brief and terrifying :).

    150:

    The great achievements of Steve Jobs certainly changed some things but not all that many. Meanwhile, on a lighter note ...

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