It Was Twenty Years Ago Today / Sgt Pepper Taught The Band To Play

by Ron Hitchens

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I attended Steve Jobs' keynote at MacWorld this morning. I didn't realize it until he flashed a huge slide on the screen, but 2004 is the twentieth anniversary of the introduction of the original MacIntosh.

>I remember that, I was there. I was on staff at the href=""
>University of Texas at Austin
> back in 1984 and Apple was marketing the Mac heavily to the college market. They visited campus more than once to demonstrate MacWrite and href=""
>. The most frequent remark I remember overhearing was "wow". Apple setup an on-campus computer store where students and faculty could buy cool new Apple computers at deep discounts. Deja Vu all over again.
> >Apple also sold Macs directly to the University at even deeper discounts. I would up with the title of The Mac Guy. I was in charge of setting up and configuring the several dozen new Mac 128k machines we bought to replace the old Lear Siegler ADM3 glass TTYs in the student labs. I dove into the Mac. I bought my own Mac Plus (which I still own). I became an early Mac developer. The early Mac OS was primitive, buggy and deeply weird, but the user experience it produced was electrifying. > >The Mac was cool. It was easy to use and you could do things with it you couldn't do on any other system under $10,000. But then I bought a $10,000 Sun workstation. > > I was already deep into Unix by that time and was more often being referred to as The Sun Guy. The Mac was cute, it was ground-breaking for a personal computer system, but the Sun did everything the Mac did and more. It had a far better OS and a more capable windowing system. The Sun was a grownup - the Mac was the kid brother. > >I drifted away from Macs. I never upgraded beyond my old Mac Plus. When my Sun workstation started getting long in the tooth, I bought an Amiga 3000 (now >there > was a sweet little system). I eventually capitulated and bought a generic Intel box (a blazing Pentium 90!) and moved over to Linux. A few years later I bought a P3 866Mhz replacement, which is still running today. > >I remember, during Apple's darkest days, having a conversation with someone who asked what I thought about Apple's chances. "They're toast," I said, "Too far gone. Nothing can save them now". And I was saying this while standing in the Silicon Graphics (SGI) booth at a trade show.

My, how things have changed. A few months ago I bought a 15" Powerbook. Twenty years later I've returned to the Mac. I left the Mac behind many years ago because I didn't think it was a serious, professional grade system that I could use to earn my living. Today, I wouldn't want to use anything else. The amazing thing to me is that the Mac is essentially targeted at consumers - people who are interested in >what > it can do, not >how > it does it. > >Which brings me to the new product announcements in the keynote today. There wasn't much in the way of new hardware. There's a G5-based XServe, a new mini version of the iPod and a few other things. Nothing earth-shaking. A large part of the session was devoted to detailing forthcoming updates to the href=""
> suite. Appreciative noises were heard from the crowd about enhancements to href=""
>, href=""
>, href=""
> and href=""
>. But the most significant bit was the inclusion of a new member of the iLife family: href=""
> >My first impression: huh? My second thought, after listening for a few minutes: cool, but how generally useful is that? My thinking by the end of the demo: Steve Jobs is a freakin' genius. > >Just about everyone has strong feelings about their music preferences. And for most of us, those feelings swirl around our formative adolescent years. The GarageBand app is just the thing that teenagers raging against the machine need to express themselves. For serious musicians it will make a terrific practice tool. But whether it's head-banging metal or chamber music, it's a terrific way of making a creative, emotional connection to people during their formative years. When you're young, everything you try to achieve is desperately important and the tools that help you find your voice will leave a lasting impression. > >I think GarageBand could turn out to be the most significant addition to the Mac since iTunes. And I think the concept of iLife is a good one - relating to people in ways that are meaningful to their lives. Technologies come and go, but the things people care about haven't changed much. > >I'm glad Steve Jobs brought Apple back from the brink and I hope he continues to surprise us with things we don't expect - but should have.

What do you think about the Mac turning 20?


2004-01-07 05:00:09
music to my ears, at least!
Macworld UK had an article a couple of years ago that bemoaned the numeracy of music applications and predicted that all of this amateurish music production would dilute the true talent and turn the whole music industry into a production line .. what crap!

It's like saying Paint for Windows is going to put Damien Hirst out of business!

Yes, anyone can throw a good tune together with GarageBand, but not everyone will be the next Danniel Beddingfield...

2004-01-07 06:26:43
Abolutely spot-on!
I agree with your sentiments 100% and it demonstrates why Microsoft will never be able to do what Apple does: Steve Jobs has a rich life outside computers and Apple; Bill Gates doesn't. Jobs is passionate abou things other than his company; if Gates has such passion, nobody knows it, least of all Microsoft the company.

Jobs and Apple know how to swing and swing hard.
Microsoft struggles to play 4/4.

In the end, most people don't care how computers work, other than when they don't. They care about what they can do for them, not to them.

Jobs describe iLife as "MS Office for the rest of your life."
The assertion that life exists outside the 9-5 office grind is revolutionary (in the subversive sense of the word), and Apple is the computer company for the stuff you actually *want* to do, not just stuff you are required to do by job, gubmit, responsibilities, etc. And gee - if you *like* the computer you use for the things you enjoy, wouldn't it be nice to like it for the things you don't enjoy as much??

As you said, Jobs is a freakin' genius!


2004-01-07 11:53:12
Abolutely spot-on!
I absolutely have to call you one this one - it is so wrong.

I am not a Gates apologist and I can't stand M$ and more than you, but Bill Gates has been amazingly generous philanthropically. He has donated billions (I think that it the right number of zeros) to research into diseases that affect the developing world. Yeah, probably even saving people's lives. The Mac is good but it is not life or death.

Agreed Gates has no "real" vision in computers except the market is the vision, but he does have a life outside of software and a pretty remarkable one at that.

2004-02-22 10:04:42
Check out...
the Jobs' work analysis at L.W.. Worth reading.