Friday, October 7, 2011

Some Thoughts On Steve Jobs

Just so you don't get confused, I've always been a big admirer of Steve Jobs.

It was sad to hear of the death of Steve Jobs.  He's been influential in our lives if you acknowledge it or not.  There have been Apple zealots who have fallen all over the words Steve spoke.  There has been the other side of the fence, where some either thought of him as a maverick or a Don Quixote, tilting at windmills when Microsoft was, seemingly, in control of the future of computing.  Even if you were a Jobs hater, if you look at what you have today, even if you're a PC person versus a Mac person, you owe Jobs a thank you.  My thoughts are in the "Read More".

I'm a retired Intel guy.  I spent fifteen years working for one of the best companies in the world.  I used to (try to) train people working in retail about processor and the benefits of using the latest and greatest Intel had to offer.  Apple just switched over to using Intel processors within the past five years or so.  Before that, I'd hear the Mac zealots say Macs were good and PCs were bad.  That CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) and RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) was the wave of the future.  The fact that the Mac fans had no idea what the difference was didn't matter.  Steve said it and so it was.  The typical refrain I heard was that RISC (when it came out) had fewer instructions than CISC.  That was wrong (CISC actually had fewer instructions), but that didn't matter.  Steve said it was better and that was good enough for the zealots.  If nothing else, Steve Jobs was a charismatic leader.  Thank goodness he was a tech marketer and not a religious leader.  I can't think of any religion that has as zealous a following.
Steve also made a big thing of MACs using 64 bit processors first.  I remember Mac sales guys in CompUSAs chiding me that MACs used 64 bit processors and Intel didn't have one.  Couple of facts.  It's not that Intel didn't know how to make RISC processors or 64 bit processors.  Intel had both.  During large, multi-store trainings I would ask who had sold the most RISC processors?  People would try Apple, or Motorola for answers.  True is that Intel had sold the most RISC processors.  One of the things Jobs didn't tell the followers was that the 64 bit processor was running a 32 bit operating system.  Now that's great marketing.  When Apple first switched to Intel processors it was to a 32 bit version of the processors, not a 64 bit version.
Here's a couple of interesting tidbits about Steve Jobs.
When he and Wosniak first started Apple Computer, Inc. he used to ride his motorcycle over to the house of one of his mentors.  They'd have a glass of wine and discuss technology.  Jobs would stay so long that he frequently crashed on the couch.  The mentor was Robert Noyce, the inventor of the integrated circuit and one of the two founders of Intel. 
The first human resources head of Apple was a woman named Anne Bowers.  She was also the wife of the same Robert Noyce.  It's not like Jobs thought of Intel as "the enemy".  He left that up to the misguided zealots.
When the  G4 processor was used in Apples top of the line (at that time) computers the Apple zealots would tell me how much better it was than an Intel processor.  I'd ask them to tell me how many Apple G4 based computers were made with no Intel silicon.  They would typically say they all were.  The truth was that every Apple G4 computer had some Intel device in it.  Not the main processor, but other components.
Just to juice up the MAC sales people I'd tell them that Intel had a special name for Apple.  They'd all want to get the dirt on how Intel referred to Apple.  I told them the "special name" was ... customer. 
Andy Grove, Intel's long time CEO did an interview for Forbe's magazine back in the 90s.  The last question asked Andy who he admired in the tech industries.  His answer surprised the interviewer.  The answer was Steve Jobs.  When asked why, Grove said that Steve had had a focus on what he thought a computer should be and had never wavered from that vision.   He was the first to see the benefit of the  GUI  (Graphical User Interface), the first to see that a mouse was a natural way to get around a screen.  The first to embrace the laser printer.
The first, the first, the first.  That pretty much sums up Steve Jobs.  He, his vision, did more to bring us usable computing devices than any other single person of the late 20th and early 21st century.  Bye Steve.  Thanks for the ride.