Steve Jobs has Passed Away at 56

[source] In some very real ways, the Apple II computer changed the course of my life from being a lawyer to an engineer.  If for nothing else, I owe Mr. Jobs a lot.  Though I have never been a huge fan of the MacIntosh computers (a true power user would never tolerate a computer "for the rest of us"), I have come back around to the Apple family of late, first with the marvelous iPod and later with the iPad, still the greatest piece of gear I have ever owned.

Mr. Jobs got rich off of people like me, but far from resenting it, I feel like he was under paid.  My consumer surplus from many of the products he helped create dwarfs what I paid for them.  He made me wealthier and happier, and the world loses a lot with his passing.


  1. Mesa Econoguy:

    2 things:

    1. Easily the best tech product manager/visionary, ever, and

    2. AlGore (Apple Board of Directors) will attribute this to Global Warming.

  2. Shawnesy:

    You're wrong about Mac OS X. It's actually a flavor of BSD, which is über power user.

  3. Sol:

    What Shawnesy said. OS X gives you a pretty user interface, sure, but open up a terminal window and you've got yourself a full-fledged Unix shell. It's a great machine for hacking.

  4. GoneWithTheWind:

    A friend let me explore her Ipad and I found it awkward to hold and use. Seemed to be missing something... aha a keyboard. No way to close the cover when you were done to protect the screen. And in many ways slightly inferior to a laptop. Can you explain what makes it a great piece of gear, I obviously missed something.

  5. John Moore:

    Jobs was indeed amazing and his results have been remarkably innovative and good for the world of technology.

    To: Shawnesy, actualy OS X is derived from the Next OS (where Jobs went when he left Apple for a while). The Next OS is derived from BSD but had major object-oriented changes in it. This is also why Apple is hobbled with Objective-C, a language of no significant outside of Apple.

  6. ScottE:

    An Apple //e was my first computer as a kid and probably also had something to do with my career.

    I actually still have a NeXTStation from college, it was way ahead of it's time.

    I'm a relatively recent Mac convert, probably mostly because I was a cheap bastard. If you enjoy your iPad, you owe it to yourself to check out a Macbook Air. Light, fast, and the new Lion touch gestures are great, I use it more than my iPad now at home. For geeks MacOS comes preinstalled with the major scripting languages (Ruby, Perl, Python) and a real shell and Windows comes preinstalled with... a DOS prompt. I'm not going back anytime soon. I run Windows in a virtual machine when I have to (a couple work and speaker building apps.) If you don't like MacOS, I haven't seen a nicer laptop that runs Windows if desired.

    RIP Steve.

  7. Mesa Econoguy:

    NeXT was a mess of an OS, but it was, like Jobs, visionary.

    Back when the Vax was power computing, Jobs was putting crazy crap in OS content, with zero RAM (unavailable), killing performance.

    My Vassar CogSci prof's (forget his name) contribution was the collected works of Shakespeare on the NeXT machine.

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  9. Slocum:

    a true power user would never tolerate a computer “for the rest of us”

    You may find that the same is more true of phones and tablets than Mac computers. It's with the iPhone and iPod touch/iPad that Steve was able to realize his vision of tight control over the whole 'ecosystem' (nobody makes a peripheral or application for HIS system outside of his control and without him getting his cut -- and Apple is busy trying to retroactively seal up the Mac ecosystem as well). I appreciate his entrepreneurial vision and drive, but I really couldn't stand his control-freakery, and so I think it's a good thing that Macs always accounted for a small fraction of the PC market (and that Android is racing ahead in smart phones).

    I did pick up a cheap iPad when I had a chance and there's no doubting the elegance, but the limitations quickly drove me to pass it on to my wife and get myself an Android tablet (an EEE Pad Transformer) that lets me do many things the iPad won't -- sync to the device using cloud services, for example (which the iPad is only belatedly supporting) or add an SD memory card, or use a hardware keyboard dock (with a touchpad and USB ports for an external hard drive or mouse) and, especially, tinker with creating and installing apps at no cost and without having to pay Apple for the privilege or ask Apple's permission.

  10. morganovich:

    most businesspeople try to figure out what the consumer wants and then provide it.

    steve has enough real vision to build things they did not even know they wanted and then convince them and drive the whole industry forward. sure, trying to do that leads to a few misses, but he was a true visionary and understood multimedia better and earlier than anyone else.

    he'll be missed.

  11. Smock Puppet, Piloting The Economic Seas Betwixt Scilla and Charybdis:


    >> I appreciate his entrepreneurial vision and drive, but I really couldn’t stand his control-freakery, and so I think it’s a good thing that Macs always accounted for a small fraction of the PC market (and that Android is racing ahead in smart phones).

    I'm with slocum here, and also agree with morganovich:

    >> steve had enough real vision to build things they did not even know they wanted and then convince them and drive the whole industry forward

    I don't think things would be all that different now without him, but he probably sped up the curve a good bit, as far as interface development.

    The control-freak attitude is both the life and death of Apple. It was what gave the Mac a good "oomph" early on, and probably did the same with the iPhone and their appStore.

    In the long run, though, it scares off developers (who wants to allow someone else to tell them "this you may not sell"? Especially AFTER they've paid out the money and time to develop it!?), and, more critically, stifles both further innovation and especially keeps prices jacked, in a stupid way.

    It also ticks off a large percentage of users who don't appreciate being gouged for high prices -- I've got an iPod Shuffle, and it's cool as hell... but I'll take my Sandisk MP3 player with an actual screen, twice the memory capacity, and non-proprietary headphones/powering system that's slightly larger but costs about 3/5ths the price. Small and neat does not beat cheap and functional.

    Apple is now also making the same mistake with the iPhone that they did with the Mac, which almost killed them in the 90s after they essentially ruled the market in the mid 80s:

    They Coulda Been a Contender

    (Above written by Wired back in 1995 when it was good, and before Apple's late 90s renaissance with the various iProducts -- note the Gallic arrogance of Jean-Louis Gassée in believing that somehow, that which had been invented could not be copied or re-engineered... Idiot.)

    As you will see reading the above, Apple failed to grasp just how critical market share is in any kind of computing product. If you aren't THE machine to develop for, you're not important in the market. At first, Apple's Macintosh WAS the machine to develop for, but Apple did everything -- and I do mean EVERYTHING to stifle any effort to produce a lower-cost alternative that would have given them the critical mass needed to make that permanent -- That idiotic "look and feel" lawsuit against Microsoft back then wasn't about Windows, it was about the "cheap Macintosh clones" that were announced as coming to market Any Day Then... and, after the suit, never appeared. I mean, if Apple would sue M$ with THEIR deep pockets over the vague similarities between the Mac OS and Windows, what would they do with an identical-to-Mac-looking clone from some much smaller company?

    The problem is that the IBM PC was more in the average person's price range, so, while the Mac outsold any single clonemaker by a good margin, ALL the clones represented a MUCH larger market for developers, and, while not uniform, it was at least CLOSE ENOUGH for rock and roll. So Apple became the "high priced spread" for those with few budgetary restrictions, and everyone else wound up with IBM PCs, and, eventually, the software/hardware power of the IBM caught up with the Mac sufficient that even the Mac's best market, artists and such, started buying IBM PCs, and, by the early 90s, Adobe was releasing Photoshop and its other tools on the Wintel platform FIRST. And that was the death knell for the Mac, which has only survived by porting its OS onto the Wintel Hardware Platform.

    Had Apple not squashed low-end Mac Clones, they'd likely still be the market dominating force they were, and it wouldn't have cost them much, as they could have remained the one people WANTED when they could afford it. The smart thing to do(more on this later) would have been to release/license the older Mac ROMS (the true unique heart of the machines), say, two or three generations back, for use in clones. This would have given them the all-important low-end market presence that you need to compete in an established market, while preserving the high-end profits for themselves.

    And Apple is making the exact same mistake with the iPhone-Android market. They ought to be licensing the rights to make and sell the original iPhone to other companies, to keep a presence in the bottom end of the market. They should allow the market "down there" to open up to other than the appStore, meaning that there is an outlet for apps that they don't control but don't have to concern themselves with (they would not support the older phones), yet has a clear upgrade path to the latest and greatest iPhone. Instead, they're keeping their prices high and thus losing out in general sales, which means an exodus to the Android for anyone who is smart enough to read the writing on the wall. If you aren't longer-term (1-3 years) "shorting" Apple stock, I believe it is a truism that you're a bad investor. Apple is doomed, especially now that they don't have Jobs to come up with the next Insanely Great thing for them to turn into a cash cow just as the old one stops yielding milk.


  12. Noumenon:

    I agree the iPad seemed darn near useless -- I couldn't copy, paste, or switch between applications, no keyboard shortcuts...