October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs, the brilliant performer.

"We're introducing 3 revolutionary products..." This was so great. Has a new product ever been presented this well:

I love fashion choices too.


rhhardin said...

He lost me at 30 seconds.

Evidently he has a different audience.

Michael Graham on Imus this morning said only women use Apple products.

Real guys like to type C:\... and fix stuff.

It's like working on your car.

aronamos said...


Here's a Jobsian fashion choice for you, professor.

Shouting Thomas said...

You're kinda obsessed with this genius thing, Althouse.

It's an erotic thing with you, judging by your Dylan bit.

Over the long term, I think that computers will prove that the genius thing is wildly overrated.

For instance, acting talent is everywhere. Millions of people are good actors, and just about everybody knows the basic moves now, if you were to judge by YouTube. The Hollywood studio system created and maintained the scarcity that made people into stars.

I've played in house jam session bands at good clubs over the years, and I've seen hundreds of incredible players walk through and do their bit. Musical "genius" is pretty widespread, far as I can see. The opportunity and timeliness to exploit it... well, that's a different story.

I think that the genius bit is a romantic trope that will recede quite a bit in the future.

Or to put it another way, Althouse, there are literally thousands of people who could be doing your job. Mine, too.

Fred4Pres said...

Wozniak, not Jobs, that invented the initial apple computer. But Jobs was less composer than conductor. That was his brilliance. He gave direction to the team, recognized what was right and what didn't work, and made the organization work together.

And obviously that was a learning experience (because it sure wasn't working just before he was ousted by the apple board).

YoungHegelian said...

It's very interesting to see the different reaction from people in the IT business & from the folks outside of it.

Outside the IT business: Steve, the visionary who made computers that were cool and became ubiquitous in our lives.

Inside: Steve, who made geek cool, saved Apple, and made a shitpot of money. Dude, too bad I didn't buy Apple stock in the 90s!

It's hard to have much love for Apple inside the IT business. It was, both from the business and technical perspective, like figuring out how to pet a porcupine.

Robert Cook said...

"Or to put it another way, Althouse, there are literally thousands of people who could be doing your job. Mine, too."

Neither you nor Prof. Althouse are geniuses, ST. Steve Jobs, however, if not a genius, was at the least unique in his field and in the larger business landscape, and his job cannot be done by thousands of people.

MadisonMan said...


Robert Cook said...

"...(because it sure wasn't working just before he was ousted by the apple board)."

Jobs was ousted due to a power struggle and clash of styles. Sculley, the man Jobs had not just hired, but had convinced to become Apple's CEO, was a standard issue businessman, as were the people he hired. Unimaginative, overly cautious, concerned less with making beautiful or wonderful products and more with just making money. Jobs was not like them and his presence was a constant rebuke to them and source of internal strife.

On the one hand, it was a terrible mistake on Apple's part to have fired Jobs, but Jobs has said he learned and gained much from the experience, and it made him a better head of a company.

Titus said...

Amazing, Incredible, Genius.

I love all my Apple Products.

Scrolling, pinching, fabulous.

I would do the Johnny guy in the video.

SMGalbraith said...

Steve Jobs made things (admission: Other than iTunes I don't own a single Apple product).

The folks who are demonstrating on Wall Street are mostly misguided but they do have a legitimate complaint about the Wall Street types who make millions - if not billions - simply manipulating numbers.

I understand there's an important role for that type of capitalism. They lend capital. But it's a far different type of capitalism then the one practiced by Jobs.

And it seems to be the major type of capitalism we have today.

Fred4Pres said...

Steve Jobs, 1912.

Okay, not exactly. His genius was putting together a team that made things that were so well designed and had such good value that they sold themself. But he still had a touch of this to him.

Titus said...

I am speaking with my husband in INdia right now and we both almost cried about Jobs death.

Titus said...

I would rather not know when I am going to die.

Jobs knew he was going to die. That sucks.

chuck said...


You're joking, that's like pounding your foot with a rock because real guys like pain.

I'll take the good old unix command line and a file system the starts with /, none of that C:, F:, whatever nonsense. And that comes with a full set of working compilers and decent code editors, all for free. In short, Linux. And Apple too, although not quite as easily. But windows? Perfect for the guy who likes everything prepackaged and is happy to live with limited options.

Anyway, where were we? I thought Job'ss presentation was brilliant, and Apple has really pushed innovation in computers and consumer electronics, something that Microsoft, with all the brilliant people they hire, has never managed. Different corporate cultures, I think.

Rick Lockridge said...

I attended a couple of Jobs' keynotes as a reporter and was indeed in thrall, but not by the showmanship or the products--I was thrilled by the discipline and the focus that were on display those days. To create presentations so tightly choreographed and meticulously rehearsed yet make them seem playful--to do something really difficult and make it just...work....
Well, next time your Windows PC crashes, which ought to be any minute now, think about the incredible focus it takes to make something as complicated as a computer (handheld or otherwise) work simply and well.
Lots of words and phrases are being tossed around, but I'd just call him an unyielding, uncompromising motivator and leader.

Curious George said...

"Well, next time your Windows PC crashes, which ought to be any minute now"


Peter Hoh said...

Is there anything that Al Gore can't stink up?

Fred4Pres said...

Titus, it could be a gift. If you (for example) chased the rare clumber into the surf and drowned, you might have regrets about things said or unsaid. But if you know it is coming, at least you could try resolving some things and telling people you love them and goodbye.

But death (and being ill) sucks. Regardless of how it comes.

MadisonMan said...

Well, next time your Windows PC crashes, which ought to be any minute now

I have both Windows and Apple Laptops. Neither of them crashes, really. Sometimes PowerPoint on the PC will crash, but not the whole machine (I don't use PowerPoint on my Apple Laptop).

Windows PC crashes may have been ubiquitous in the 1990s, but far less so now.

Peter Hoh said...

Funniest tribute.

rhhardin said...


You're joking, that's like pounding your foot with a rock because real guys like pain.

Install Cygwin and everything runs like unix, and in addition all the windows apps work.

/cygdrive/c/... is the cygwin magic to get to the native windows filesystem root.

J. R. said...

My favorite Steve Jobs presentation is this one from 1997. It was just after he came back to rescue Apple, which was at the lowest of its low points. Nobody really believed that he could do it.

rhhardin said...

Well, next time your Windows PC crashes, which ought to be any minute now

I never have an XP crash, and the machine is up for 6 months at a time.

Peter Hoh said...

After 3 (or was it 4?) years, my MacBook starting shutting down at random, and the battery had an odd bulge. And the plastic case developed a crack -- purely cosmetic -- it didn't affect the functionality. And the thingy under one of the arrow keys was broken.

I fully expected that it was time to replace the bugger, but I made an appointment at the genius bar to inquire about my options.

Apple made me a very happy customer. I think they charged me less than $100 to fix one of the problems. They covered the rest. The machine has hummed along perfectly for the past couple of years.

themightypuck said...

Napster saved Apple. Steve too.

chuck said...


The windows console is deep down ugly. I've used all those things, really. Sometimes you have to settle for what is available. But why torture oneself? Windows doesn't fit my needs. Windows 7 is nice, the Microsoft business apps are the best, but that isn't what I need the computer for. And for technical writing Word still isn't as good as Latex. And yes, I know how to use Latex on windows.

The Microsoft compilers aren't compliant with recent (10 year old) standards, the mingw compilers don't yet work reliably with for 64 bits, so on an so forth. It just isn't worth my time to run windows as my main desktop. When I need it for one thing or another I fire up a virtual machine, but that isn't often.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Ha ha. You know you are in a crowd of techno geekoids when OS X gets applause.

Fantastic presentation.

Loved the mobile phone joke with the dial on it.

rhhardin said...

The windows console is deep down ugly.

No doubt, but install Cygwin and you don't deal with it. It makes you a unix user.

Windows is there so that the drivers and apps are there that are always missing or late or defective in linux.

Coketown said...

I predicted that Ann would post about Jobs dieing in the first Bob Dylan Nobel Prize thread. I didn't think she'd go all Machead retarded on us and post one bit of nonsense after another.

Steve Jobs was a snakeoil salesman who happened to be pushing great products. He convinced people that they needed whatever he offered. He duped people into converting as much of their lives as possible to the Apple brand--your phone is Apple, your PC is Apple, that worthless tablet is Apple, you get your movies, music, and television through Apple--and now these same people think Jobs changed the world. No. He changed some people's lives by selling them their own egos in brushed aluminum. Brilliant performer, indeed.

So, no, Jobs didn't change the world. The iTunes store was about the only revolutionary thing he did. Everything else he pushed had been done before. He just did it better. Which is no small accomplishment. But he didn't change the world. He just made it better. And now he's dead. So either move on, or wait three days, see if he resurrects, and then move on.

deborah said...

I just watched about the first 12 minutes. I remember that when iphone was new, people complained about the steep cost of the service contract, and also maybe the speed of the system?

Anyway, I have a cheap cell phone, no internet. Any preferences? I hear young men like my nephew prefer Android. My sister and nieces have blackberry.

The only Apple I have is a 4 GB ipod, which works fab.

Joe said...

One thing to remember about Jobs is that he was able to afford to make the mistakes he did. He produced as many bombs as he did successes. He and Apple learned from those mistakes, but not many companies could have afforded to make them. Without Microsoft, Apple would literally have gone bankrupt due to this (Microsoft pumped hundreds of millions into Apple and also sold its most successful software products.)

One very annoying thing about Jobs is his tendency to take credit when none was due. Jobs opposed several of Apple successes, including the iPhone--he was obsessed with the tablet (anyone remember the Newton?)

Want to adore someone technology-wise; look no further than William Bradford Shockley Jr.. He, his team and predecessors were who revolutionized the world. Jack Kilby is the second on my list and Bill Gates third.

MadisonMan said...

Loved the mobile phone joke with the dial on it.


I still lament the loss of the dial phone at my Dad's house. My kids miss it too.

deborah said...

I was tempted to buy a red dial phone off of ebay :)

Fred4Pres said...

Jobs managed to be the face of Apple, but Apple was a lot of other people. That said, Jobs was a brilliant conductor. And making mistakes is fine, provided you learn from them. And being too cautious is a mistake too.

Life will go on. Good design and style will continue to happen (rarely, but it will happen). Hopefully Apple retains that going forward.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I was tempted to buy a red dial phone off of ebay :)

We have a dial phone hanging in the master bathroom toilet cubicle for kitschy looks. But..when the power goes out, as it does frequently, it is very handy to have a rotary or even touch tone phone.

Very strange to use a rotary phone, even though that was the main type of phone when I was growing up. Your fingers forget how to dial.

Technology races onward. LOL

Fred4Pres said...

How did Steve Jobs ever manage to succeed without the steady support of Barack Obama?

Why Obama does not get it:

Today, America is in the midst of an energy revolution as entrepreneurs like Harold Hamm of Continental Resources innovate horizontal-drilling technologies promising to double U.S. oil reserves. Yet when Hamm joined other businessmen in a meeting with The One recently, he got the cold shoulder. “I told him of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. I wanted to make sure he knew about this,” Hamm relays to the Wall Street Journal.

The president’s reaction?

“He turned to me and said, ‘Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.”

John said...

I am not an Apple fanboy. I have never owned any Apple products. I always thought Jobs came off as something of a jerk. Woz seemed like the more interesting person.


Having said that, I cannot praise Jobs highly enough. He was a visionary who imagined things that others could not or did not.

Better than that, he made those visions come to life. Through his visions he made the world a far better place.

Not just Apple, Pixar as well.

I was thinking about this when I was finishing the current edition of my newsletter this morning. I deleted it and started again, talking about the need for creativity and why it is rare.

And how Jobs had it.


He died way too young. Had he lived, I have no doubt that he would have come up with another Apple IIE, Mac, I-Pod, I-Pad whatever. Whatever it may have been we probably cannot even think of now.

Sorry to see you go, Steve. I will miss you. You made the world a better place.

John Henry

John said...

I don't have a dial phone but I do have a bluetooth handset that looks like it came from an old timey dial phone. I got it from thinkgeek.com

I love to carry it into a McDonalds or the like with a USB cable hanging out, not connected to anything.

And then start making and taking calls.

I get some very odd looks.

John Henry

John said...

For those who say that Jobs was mainly a salesman:

OK, certainly nothing wrong with that.

As the old saying goes:

"Nothing happens until somebody sells something"

No product is made, no jobs are created, no used are satisfied.

We need great salesmen and saleswomen too.

John Henry

E.M. Davis said...

The entire Apple ethos is on display in that presentation: simplicity.

Notice how simple every screen is. Even the backdrop, the clothes, the patter is simple. And effective. Easy to understand, but not boring.

We have new business presentations. You should see some of the slides — overwhelmed with information. I've tried in vain to get our teams to simplify everything about their presentations.

MarkG said...

We have new business presentations. You should see some of the slides — overwhelmed with information.

Management where I used to work liked "sparkles," as they called it. Not only an overload of information, but keywords were encased in explosions and crap like that. Gawd, I'm glad I don't work there anymore.

I still have the first edition iPhone. It runs fewer and fewer of the current apps, and it seems a bit pokey. Reminds me of my '386 when Pentiums were hot.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I thought Job'ss presentation was brilliant, and Apple has really pushed innovation in computers and consumer electronics, something that Microsoft, with all the brilliant people they hire, has never managed. Different corporate cultures, I think.

Hear, hear. And yet, after looking back on Apple's relationship with Gates, I'm glad both were around. It shows how full-circle these things really are or need to be. Gates bailed out Jobs and I guess the realization that two very different organizations really needed each other like that is nice to know.

Still, in the end, I think Gates admired Jobs more than Jobs did Gates. Inspiring people by channeling the right sense of taste and innovation into a determined management style is so much more valuable than whatever Gates did, as financially successful (earlier in their careers*) as he was at it.

*This caveat is written in recognition of Apple's later record in terms of market capitalization. Had he lived - and who knows, even without him - there's no reason to write off that achievement as a one-time feat.

Writ Small said...

I was listening to tech podcasts during the lead up to the Iphone and never got caught up in the hysteria. I finally got one for work a year ago. It totally lived up to the hype - absolutely fantastic device.

Great leaps forward often look obvious in hindsight. That should magnify rather than detract from genius involved.