By Graham Lee
I woke this morning as usual at around sunrise and got out of bed expecting another normal day. Walking into my office, the sun had not yet risen enough above the horizon to create more than a dull grey to the morning light. The sky at least was clear and promised a better day than yesterday, which was cold and windy.
As usual every morning, I settled down to surf the safelists for credits. My ISP restricts the amount of internet usage I can have during peak hours from 8:00am until midnight, so I need to surf before the 8:00 am deadline.
Turning on my PC and checking my email was normal, I checked which safelists I wanted to surf today and then turned on my Apple Powerbook Pro ready to surf. After starting Firefox ready to log into Gmail, something caught my eye.
‘Steve Jobs, Apple Co-Founder, is Dead’
My morning routine changed from that moment on.
My immediate thoughts were, ‘Oh No… this can’t be true, it’s another sick hoax.’
I immediately searched in Google for ‘Steve Jobs’. The resulting page confirmed my worst fears, Steve Jobs died yesterday evening, Wednesday 5 October 2011, peacefully in California with his family around him.
My History with Apple
I became interested in computers in the very early 1980’s and remember thinking how much better the Apple II and Apple Lisa looked and sounded, when compared to other offerings of the time.
Apart from forays with home computers from Sinclair and Amstrad during the 1980’s, my first real exposure to working on computers came in 1990 when I started working for a small graphic design company in North East England. The company had two Apple Macintosh computers, a Macintosh Classic and a Macintosh IIcx. My boss used the Macintosh IIcx to produce the final DTP documents, using Aldus Pagemaker and Freehand, whilst I produced the initial mockups on the Classic. Creating colour using CMYK values, which we could only see were right or wrong, when we transferred them to the IIcx by floppy disk ready to print, was interesting to say the least.
We were at the cutting edge of DeskTop Publishing at the time and had to work hard to convince advertising agencies that computers and technology were the way of the future.
As time went on, I worked in other graphic design and DTP studio’s, moved into support and training, all on the Macintosh platform, until eventually in 1995 I started work at the Apple UK Customer Service Centre as Customer Support Manager.
In 1994 Apple were using PowerPC processors across the range and were cutting costs in other areas of hardware to remain competitive. Anyone who was involved with Apple at the time knows how unreliable Apple computers were during those disastrous years. As Customer Support Manager, I was at the sharp end of complaints from customers in the UK who were facing computer break-downs and problems on an almost daily basis.
Users who had been loyal to Apple were leaving the platform in their droves and it was extremely difficult to keep those who remained happy. This was by far the most difficult time for Apple and for myself in all my working life. But also one of my most satisfying. Helping users work through problems, arranging for replacements where necessary and refunds in some, even though it went against Apples’ policy at the time, gave me a sense of satisfaction that I was working at one of the most innovative and visionary companies ever to have existed.
I ‘kept the faith’, when many fell by the wayside…
Because I could see how great Apple computers were, when compared to PC offerings of the time. They looked cool, when they worked – they worked brilliantly and lasted forever. They were built to do a specific job and they did it well.
‘The Second Coming’
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in a garage in 1976. Steve Jobs was the first person to see the commercial potential of producing a computer based around a mouse driven graphical user interface. His vision challenged the establishment where computers were large and expensive and needed typed commands to operate them. He wanted to produce a computer for ‘the people’ and his vision culminated in the Macintosh Classic and Macintosh II range of personal computers.
Unfortunately Steve’s attention to detail and unwavering focus, meant that these early Macintosh computers were too expensive for ‘the people’, but they soon gained a huge following in the graphic design arena. Macintosh computers were to be found in almost every newspaper and advertising agencies from the late 1980’s until this very day.
In 1997 Steve Jobs, who had been ousted from Apple in 1985, returned to the company he had co-founded, a move which was likened to ‘the second coming’ by many of the Mac faithful. He brought with him, his innovation and vision, and proved to be the driving force Apple needed and the company has grown year on year since his return.
- The iconic iMac, an all-in-one computer reminiscent of the first Macintosh Classic, was released in August 1998 and went on to sell 800,000 units in its first 5 months.
- Specialised digital production software for both professionals and consumer markets followed, Final Cut Pro and iMovie for video, Logic and Garageband for music, and Aperture and iPhoto for photographers.
- In May 2001 Steve announced a brand new operating system based on the UNIX platform and released Mac OSX. The included ‘Classic Envrironment’ allowed programs from earlier operating systems to run as well.
- Later the same year in October 2001, the first iPod, a portable digital audio player was released. Although late to market, the Apple iPod has become the most successful portable audio device ever produced.
- In 2003 the iTunes store was opened, offering online digital music downloads and quickly became the market leader. It had recorded over 5 Billion downloads by 2008.
- In 2006 Steve announced that all future Macs would be powered by Intel processors. Along with this came Bootcamp allowing users to run one computer but two operating systems, Mac OS and Windows. Now it was possible for users to own a ‘cool’ Mac, without giving up their precious Windows applications.
- In January 2007, Steve announced the first iPhone and Apple’s share price hit an all-time high at that point of $97.80. When I worked in the Apple Service Centre in 1995/96, the share price was less than $5.00 and I’ll always regret not having the cash to buy some shares then.
- Following the release of the iPhone, the App store was announced in July 2009 and within a month had sold over 60 Million applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Three months later, the iPhone had become so popular that Apple was named the third largest mobile handset supplier in the world.
- In January 2010, Apple announced the iPad. A touch based, tablet computer, running the same operating system as the iPhone, giving it access to the largest catalog of Apps when it launched in April 2010. In the US more than 300,000 were sold on the first day of release and reached 500,000 by the end of the first week.
- In October 2010 the share price had risen above $300, amazing when I recall how poor it was in 1995/96.
- Finally, in January 2011, Apple opened the Mac App Store and started selling software online as digital downloads only, thereby cutting the cost involved in CD/DVD production and packaging, allowing them to sell the same software at greatly reduced prices. This has not been without it critics however, who wonder whether the world and the internet are ready for the next visionary step from Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs – The Loss of a Visionary
Sadly Steve Jobs will not be around to see whether his last great innovation will be a success. Judging by the way things have gone previously, I don’t believe he has anything to worry about.
He removed floppy disks from Macintosh first and everyone followed, he introduced USB first and everyone followed, he has introduced so many innovations first and everyone has followed, he introduced digital audio and mobile app downloads first and everyone is still trying to catch, so I think the Mac App Store has a great chance of succeeding.
I am personally grateful to Steve Jobs for everything he has done for the computer and technology industry. Without his vision and energy, I would never have got involved in computers in the first place. I would never have had such a successful career in the industry without an Apple Mac on my desk, by my side or in my hand. Steve Jobs has inspired me and so many others with his determination and commitment to design and innovation, to produce the best technology money can buy.
Thank you Steve for creating, reviving and keeping that vision and innovation alive. You will be greatly missed by many, many thousands around the world.
Rest In Peace – Steven Paul Jobs – 24 February 1955 – 5 October 2011
About the Author
Graham Lee is CEO of The Income Zone, where you will find online ebusiness tools for web entrepreneurs. Graham is also the owner of a number of other websites offering tools and information about internet marketing and working online.
He currently owns a Powerbook 100, a Powerbook 1400, a Macintosh IIvx, two Quadra 8500, a G3 and a Dual G4, two 15″ Powerbook Pro’s and his newest a 17″ Powerbook Pro. Although no longer used all the early Macs still work. Through necessity rather than want he also owns a Windows laptop and 2 desktop Windows PC’s.