Posts Tagged ‘steve jobs’

On January 22, 1984, the famous “1984” television commercial introducing the Macintosh personal computer ran during the third quarter of the Super Bowl.  Many people think that this is the only time it ever ran.  But, it was also run by the Chiat/Day, the ad agency that created it, on December 31, 1983 right before the 12:00 midnight sign-off on KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho, so that it could qualify for the 1983 advertising awards. The ad was so successful, that it never really needed to be run again as the media coverage it got generated a lot of free airtime.  And, people are still talking about it 30 years later.

The ad is based on the book, “1984” by George Orwell which introduced the concept of “Big Brother”.  The ad refers to IBM as “Big Brother” and the Apple Macintosh computer as the individual challenging a society of people who don’t behave as individuals.  Interestingly, the estate of George Orwell and the television rights holder to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four considered the commercial to be a copyright infringement and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple and Chiat/Day after the ad ran which generated even more publicity.



Here’s Director Ridley Scott discussing the making of the famous 1984 Macintosh commercial.  [This is excerpted from an Apple promotional video.]



The “1984” ad was shown at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Macintosh in 2004  There was also an updated version of it created for the iPod launch.  Was it one of the best ads ever?  That’s up for debate.  But, as a marketer, I’d give it an award for one of the top 10 product launches ever.

— Carole Gunst

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From a 1986 documentary series on PBS called “The Entrepreneurs.” Steve Jobs articulates his own vision for NeXT, the company he started after being forced out of Apple Computer a year prior.

The opening scene has the eminent designer Paul Rand (designer of logos for IBM, Westinghouse, UPS, etc.) unveiling the logo he created for NeXT. Design was a great passion of Jobs’, and he wanted this company to make an important statement in that regard right from the beginning.

Much of the subsequent footage is taken at two NeXT retreats at California’s Pebble Beach – the first taking place 90 days after NeXT was started, and the second three months hence. Jobs presides at his ever-present whiteboard and probes and challenges during these freewheeling discussions with his colleagues, many of whom followed him from Apple.

The “Reality Distortion Field” that Jobs’ made (in)famous is boldly on display here. The first instance shows the staff pushing back on Jobs because they are determined the original 18-month deadline for shipping the first NeXT units is unrealistic. The college market, where NeXT’s computer is being positioned, has put pressure on the company to keep the price at no more than $3,000.

Jobs’ hard-edged instincts as a businessman lead him to assert that missing the Summer, 1987 deadline for college purchases would delay their educational computer for another year – thereby wreaking havoc in the company. Jobs’ chief concerns involved not selling enough units to meet operating costs, and falling behind technologically by the time the units actually do ship. The dreaded talk of “spending cuts” also enters the conversation.

At one point, Jobs is overtaken by a stream of consciousness, issuing forth an entrepreneurial soliloquy about his own start-up philosophy that would make Hamlet blush:    

“I forgot how hard it is to start a company … it’s A LOT of work. And … you’ve got to do everything: you have to come up with a name, you have to come up with a logo … I mean, in addition to designing the product, you’ve got to figure out what you want to design, you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to get it to the marketplace, you’ve got to do a part number system, you’ve got to go get bank accounts, you’ve got to set up charts, general ledgers, a management information system, get a little kitchen set up, get a coffee maker, ALL THIS STUFF!”

NeXT wound up being purchased by Apple around the time Jobs triumphantly returned to the latter as “iCEO” in 1997, and the technology NeXT developed was ultimately incorporated into Apple’s OS X operating system. But here, in this brief snapshot, you get a bold-faced look at the urgency Jobs felt to make his “next” act successful, and you experience that pure, undistilled passion he had for what he was trying to accomplish.

Chris Hartman

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Jonathan Rotenberg

This is a personal account, by Boston native Jonathan Rotenberg, about the day in 1981 he met Steve Jobs, who with Steve Wozniak was in town to attend “Applefest ’81,” a computer show Jonathan organized as a prodigious 18 year old. Rotenberg, who currently resides in Los Angeles, has a long history in computing. When he was only 13, he co-founded Boston’s Computer History Society. He is now President of Centriq Advisors, a management consulting firm for the high tech industry. Below I quote Jonathan’s account in its entirety. It’s remarkable for the humanity and kindness Jobs exhibited that day – particularly to young Jonathan.

Click here to check out Jonathan’s Facebook page and his blogging on life in L.A., a variety of issues relating to technology, spirituality, creativity and business.

“On June 6, 1981, a very kind man named Bob Washburn (Northeast Regional Sales Manager of Apple Computer Inc.) made a dream come true for an 18-year old semi-geek named Jonathan Rotenberg. Bob convinced the cofounders of his company, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, to be keynote speakers at a computer show I organized in Boston called Applefest ’81.

“Applefest was the first Apple-specific computer show ever, and was the platform from which IDG (International Data Group) later launched something called Macworld Expo.

In this photo, taken that steamy Saturday afternoon at Boston’s Park Plaza Castle, the 26-year-old Steve J. is standing next to his just-launched Apple III. Little did Steve realize at this particular moment just how much the pimply 18-year-old Kid actually knew about him. The Kid had researched Steve in meticulous detail.

“Weeks before, the Kid had been in intense conversations with one of Boston’s top chefs, Odette Berry of Another Season restaurant (the location today of Lala Rokh on Beacon Hill). Odette and he (me) planned an exquisitely stylish and innovative seven-course, all-vegetarian dinner for Saturday night. Odette developed each recipe from scratch specially for Steve Jobs. With a warm and gentle British accent, she said: ‘Mind you, now, this won’t be any “hippie vegetarian” dinner. Each course will be extremely elegant and unique.’

Lala Rokh restaurant (previously Another Season), Mt. Vernon Street, Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood.

“In 1981, a lot of teenagers idolized Blondie or Mick Jagger. That Saturday evening at Another Season, this 18-year-old found himself sitting in the presence of his greatest childhood hero. As the dinner began, the 26-year old may have had a hunch that, in this Kid, he had found someone who could appreciate his extraordinarily high standards. (FYI, six years later–after leaving Apple and founding NeXT and Pixar–Steve would say, in a biting, caustic phone voice: ‘You know, Jonathan, you can be an ANAL RETENTIVE JERK sometimes!’ Part of understanding Steve is knowing that ‘anal retentive jerk’ can be understood as an expression of esteem by one perfectionist to another …)

“The dinner guests seated around the table included the technology editor of the Wall Street Journal, Dick Schaffer; the publisher/founder of Inc. magazine, Bernie Goldhirsh; and the technology reporter of the Boston Globe. Each of the seven courses was crafted from fragrant, brilliantly colorful, just-picked spring vegetables. The guests seemed impressed. But the 18-year-old–so determined to raise himself to the soaring, monumental standards of the master–had something else up his pimply sleeve … He knew a truth about Steve that almost no one knew then. Many people knew that Steve had been a fruitarian for a number of years. But what virtually NO ONE knew was that Steve’s favorite fruit was NOT the apple; it was the strawberry.

“Odette had designed each course of the dinner to include a unique, innovative strawberry element within it. The 18-year old sat across the table, facing the 26-year-old master. A waiter appeared with the first course: a beautifully-designed glass platter made from a highly-polished mirror with gorgeous, ever-so-lightly prepared, gigantic strawberries, arranged like a work-of-art on the mirror. The 18-year old peered across the table and saw a grin appear on the face of the master. ‘We heard that you like strawberries,’ the Kid said. ‘Doesn’t everyone like strawberries?’ he replied, with a happy, boyish laugh. He then slid a large portion of the platter onto his plate …

“After dinner, I invited the guests to my parents’ townhouse on Beacon Hill for liqueurs and biscotti. As we walked up Mt. Vernon Street after dinner, it was close to the summer solstice. The setting Spring sun illuminated the gentle colonial brick townhouses, trees, and gas lamps of Beacon Hill. I had been waiting all day to to find an appropriate time to speak with Steve about the future of Applefest. As we walked together, I shared with him some challenges we had been struggling with in our collaboration with Apple’s marketing department. Steve put his arm around my shoulder and seemed to listen intently. He then reached into his jacket and pulled out a small leather box. ‘Here, Jonathan, I want to give this to you.’ (The box, I later discovered, contained a pure gold pen with the full-color Apple logo on its clip). After some further conversation, he said: ‘Jonathan, Could you call my assistant next week? I’d like to fly you out to California, so that we can sit down and talk about this.’

“There is a saying that ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears.’ On June 6, 1981, the most important teacher of my lifetime appeared.”

-Chris Hartman

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An original three-page contract establishing Apple Computer, dated April 1, 1976, will be auctioned at Sotheby’s New York on December 13. The documents, which are signed by Apple co-founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, also include Wayne’s addendum to the original contract, where he dissolved his own 10% interest in the company. Sotheby’s estimates the documents could fetch between $100,000 and $150,000.

At the time Wayne left the company, he received $800 and $1500 at a later date. Walter Isaacson, who penned the authorized biography of Steve Jobs, suggested that the 10% stake Wayne sold in 1976 would be worth in the neighborhood of $2.6 billion today.

In an article in Crain’s New York Business, Richard Austin, head of books and manuscripts for Sotheby’s New York stated that the consigner bought the documents in the mid-1990s from a manuscript dealer who had acquired them from Mr. Wayne. The consigner apparently believed that the untimely passing of Mr. Jobs in addition to the appearance of Mr. Isaacson’s biography suggested that this was an appropriate time to sell. (Illustration credit: engadget.com)

-Chris Hartman

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Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Regarded by many as one of the greatest commencement addresses in U.S. history, by someone who admittedly never graduated from college himself. At just over 15 minutes in length, Steve Jobs neatly, yet forcefully encapsulates his family history, professional history, and general philosophy of life. It could easily be boiled down to a mere two word phrase: “Don’t settle.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life … remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose … there is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Farewell, Steve Jobs. One of history’s giants who made this world dramatically better because he had lived.

-Chris Hartman

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On October 12, 1988, Steve Jobs unveiled the NeXT Computer at Symphony Hall in San Francisco. A day or two later, I was among a standing-room only crowd at Boston’s Symphony Hall admiring the all-black, beautifully-designed “workstation” with a brand-new optical drive (no hard disk drive in the computer of the future according to Jobs) that played a duet with a human violinist.

That night I sent a gushing memo to my colleagues at DEC, telling them that the future has arrived and that Jobs education-sector-first marketing strategy was brilliant. Indeed, CERN was one of the early adopters and Tim Berners-Lee developed the first WWW browser/editor on the NeXT workstation. But NeXT Computer, Inc. went on to sell only 50,000 beautifully-designed “cubes,” getting out of the hardware business altogether in 1993.

For many years, I have kept in my office the “Computing advances to the NeXT level” poster I got that night as a reminder that forecasting the next big (or small) thing in technology is tough, even impossible. And yet, many people believe that technology marches according to some “laws” or pre-defined trajectory and that all we have to do is decipher the “evolutionary” path technology (or the economy or society) is destined to follow.

Jobs went on to introduce the iPod and  the iPad, industry-changing devices whose invention was made possible, among other things, by a tiny disk drive. The possibility of a significant boost to the simultaneous shrinking (of size) and enlarging (of capacity) of disk drives was known since the discovery of the giant magnetoresistance effect in the very same year the NeXT Computer was introduced, 1988. Still, no one predicted the iPod.  Similarly, in 1990 no one predicted how the Web will change our lives or in 2000, how virtualization will change the lives of IT managers, although both technologies existed at the time.

To quote Ebenezer Scrooge,who had the opportunity to meet his future, “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if preserved in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” We cannot predict our future. But, like Steve Jobs, we can create it.

–Gil Press

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Steve Jobs and Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel co-founder Robert Noyce, 1975. Noyce was both friend and mentor to Jobs. Courtesy, startup-book.com.

Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs said yesterday in a letter released by Apple Inc. that he was no longer able to meet his duties as CEO of the company and was resigning, effective immediately. Tim Cook, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, becomes its new CEO. Jobs now becomes Apple’s chairman, a position that did not exist previously.

Jobs is the subject of a forthcoming authorized biography by noted biographer and historian Walter Isaacson, which reportedly is on schedule to meet its original release date of November 21. The book promises to be an unusually open and revealing portrait of Jobs, including not only the results of hours of interviews Isaacson conducted with him, but also the perspectives of his ex-girlfriends, former (and fired) employees, foes, friends and family, as well as details of the resignation itself.

Isaacson is presently completing the last chapter of the book, and in somewhat surprising fashion, the famously secluded Jobs has reportedly kept the project at arms length, giving Isaacson room for largely unfettered research. It already promises to be one of the most talked about and in-demand biographies to come out in recent years and can be pre-ordered through Amazon.com.

Click here for a slideshow of “The greatest victories of Steve Jobs’ career” courtesy of PCmag.com

-Chris Hartman

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Xerox PARC logo, ca. 1971. Courtesy, Wikipedia.

PARC, or Palo Alto Research Center, Inc., was founded in 1971 as a research arm of the Xerox Corporation. Its critical contributions to computer science included development of the laser printer, the Ethernet, a variation of ARPANET (a predecessor of the Internet); various email delivery systems; the nucleus of the modern personal computer – featuring a monitor with graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced “gooey”), and the first modern version of Stanford Research Institute’s Douglas Engelbart’s invention: the computer “mouse.” PARC sits in a low-lying, non-descript cement building nudging the Stanford University campus off Coyote Hill Road on the outskirts of Palo Alto, California.

Xerox PARC Computer Science Laboratory class, ca. 1971. Bob Taylor, second from right, would hold classes with laboratory students in "beanbag" chairs. Courtesy, Computer History Museum.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, recalled in his recently published memoir Idea Man how during of September of 1980, he interviewed a PARC programmer named Charles Simonyi for a job, and how intrigued he was about the goings on behind the gates of Oz, or “ivory tower,” as Allen put it. Allen saw that PARC was a highly innovative and forward-thinking company that anticipated trends in computer technology a “decade” before everyone else in computer high tech.

Charles Simonyi, at Xerox PARC, ca. 1980 in front of one of their Alto computers. He left PARC that same year for Microsoft. Courtesy, Folklore.org.

Simonyi ultimately accepted a position with Microsoft, and subsequently invited Allen to Palo Alto to see a demonstration of PARC’s new “Alto” computer. Allen remembers being “blown away” by the complex word processing software graphics that displayed multiple-sized fonts on a screen that would print in an identical manner. The graphics were referred to as “WYSIWYG,” or “What you see is what you get.” One of the most devastating observations Allen mentioned was a completely intuitive interface, where one could actually “cut and paste” entire blocks of text via the computer’s mouse. In this particular mouse, motion was sensed by two wheels perpendicular to each other. Eventually, this was replaced by a “ball” mouse.

By the beginning of 1978, Altos were being tested in four locations: the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Atlantic Richfield Company, and the offices of Xerox’s copier sales division. Xerox also donated a total of fifty Altos to outstanding universities—Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Universityof Rochester, including IFS file servers (the file server was a common application for the machine) and Dover laser printers. Xerox management rejected creating a commercially obtainable version of the Alto for many years.

A brief thumbnail of a few applications available for the Alto:

  • Bravo and Gypsy—the first WYSIWYG word processors;
  • Laureland its successor Hardy—Network E-mail clients;
  • Markup and Draw—Painting and graphics manipulation (bitmap editors);
  • Neptune—File manager;
  • FTP and chat utilities;
  • Games—Chess, Pinball, Othello and a Alto Trek game by Gene Ball;
  • Sil—vector graphics editor, used mainly for logic circuits, printed circuit.

Simonyi, when later asked about his decision to join Microsoft, explained that Xerox was simply “an old company going downhill,” and that it wasn’t just that they didn’t have all the right answers to complex technology questions. “That’s normal,” he said. But what bothered him the most was that they didn’t know the right questions, either.

The Xerox Alto was ultimately considered a failure because they were only able to sell 25,000 of them. Its successor, the Xerox Star, released in 1981 at a price tag of $16,000, might have been termed a “personal” computer, but definitely not a “popular” one. Malcolm Gladwell, in a recent New Yorker magazine article, said that Xerox PARC had developed the Alto for “professionals,” but that Apple computer’s Steve Jobs, who basically purchased an opportunity to tour PARC in 1979, wanted his personal computer to have a far more broadly-based appeal. Speaking of which, Jobs’ tour of PARC has entered high tech lore as a seminal moment in the development of the modern personal computer. Detractors have referred to it as letting the fox in the chicken coop, while Allen might be inclined to see it as letting a kid in the candy store. Jobs, for his part, asked if PARC would simply “open its kimono.”

Steve Jobs with the Apple II computer, ca. 1979 - the same year he gained entrance to Xerox PARC. Courtesy, Gizmodo.

The then 24 year-old Jobs got his chance to visit after negotiating for Xerox PARC to purchase 100,000 pre-IPO shares of Apple Computer for $1 million. He brought a team of executives and engineers along with him and was shown a number of PARC’s innovations, including the aforementioned WYSIWYG—the mouse-driven graphical user interface provided by the Alto. Jobs promptly integrated this into two of his key computer projects—first the Apple Lisa and then the Macintosh. Then, in similar fashion to the way Allen snapped up Simonyi at Microsoft, Jobs actively cherry-picked the talent at PARC for Apple.

An interesting epilogue, tying together both this sequence of events and the Simonyi defection, is Apple’s lawsuit against Microsoft (whose “Windows” technology derived heavily from the WYSIWYG interface) for illegally appropriating the “look and feel” of the Macintosh GUI. Not to be outdone, Xerox decided to sue Apple on the same grounds; but ultimately, all of the lawsuits were dismissed for lack of legal merit. Chiefly, none of the parties involved could claim ownership of any of the technologies they employed.

Christopher Hartman

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TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) has a wonderful story today about an eBay auction for an original Apple I computer, which starts out at $50,000. And what do you get for your winning bid?  TUAW explains:

“A non-working Apple I motherboard, the original shipping box (with the return address being the home of Steve Jobs’ parents), and the original manual, complete with schematics on how to take the motherboard and build a workable computer out of it.

“The original full-page advertisement for Apple was included with each Apple I. This features the original Apple ‘Isaac Newton’ logo that was designed by the third founder of Apple, Ronald Wayne. Wayne also wrote the Apple I manual. Finally, you’ll get a photograph of every other owner of this computer. The existing owner has a picture of himself, the computer, and Steve Wozniak that he’s including.”

By April of 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer. The Apple I, their first product, was the first single-circuit board computer. It had a video interface, 8K of RAM and a keyboard. Its processor, the 6502 designed by Rockwell, cost a mere $25.

The computer, originally mounted on plywood with components visible, was first unveiled at a meeting of the now-famous Homebrew Computer Club which was based in Palo Alto, CA. A local computer dealer (The Byte Show) ordered 100 units, provided Wozniak and Jobs agreed to assemble the kits for customers. In all, 200 were built and sold for $666.66 each.

This is an extraordinary specimen of the Apple I – widely acknowledged to be the first hobby/home computer ever built. And the important archive of ephemera included in the package makes it practically unique. TUAW’s writeup is accompanied by several thumbnails of documents packaged together with the computer (including the cover of the manual, above).

However, there is one caveat: if you happen to be the successful bidder, you are asked to travel to Roseville, California to pick it up due to the irreplaceable nature of the Apple I. So what are you waiting for?! The holidays are right around the corner!

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