Steve Jobs announced last week that he’s resigning as CEO of Apple, and there’s been a remarkable level of reaction to the news. This post will add my drop to the river of thoughts about Steve Jobs and what he built.
My career has spanned a lot of Steve’s products, starting back in 1984 when I graduated college and started selling Apple (and IBM and Compaq) computers. And I’ve had a couple opportunities to connect with Steve – I technically met him only once; the other was something of an interaction, and both could be described as “run-in’s” with Steve Jobs.
The first was at the very first AllThingsD conference in 2003. I was prepared – I sat in the front row for his talk, I saw where he’d walk off behind the curtain, and I was waiting there with a handshake and what I thought was a simple request. “Hi Steve, I’ve been a huge fan of you and Apple for almost 20 years, and I’d be honored if you’d sign my Apple II” I stood there with the cover of my //e in one hand and a Sharpie in the other. Steve said, “Sorry, I don’t sign autographs.” He looked down at it and said “I see you got Woz to sign it.” Then he turned around and walked away.
The second time was at another AllThingsD confernece – this time in 2010, and I asked a quesion from the audience with a definite point of view, but I never expected the specific and spirited reaction he gave – see below.
Another time I saw him walk out of Apple HQ at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino talking on his iPhone and getting into his no-licence-plate Mercedes. And that’s pretty much the extent of my personal sightings and interactions.
But I do have a lot of products that Steve Jobs created – and they’ve been so meaningful to me that I have a home office/computer museum that contains a bunch of them. Here are a few from my collection and why I think they’re important.
Apple Macintosh 128 - the very first Macintosh released on January 24, 1984. The first great graphical user interface, it eventually changed everything, and was “The Computer For The Rest Of Us.”
The Apple //c was released on April 24, 1984 – I attended the local Philly product announcement before I even graduated, and it was the first computer I ever sold. Actually “sold” is exaggerating a bit – I was nervously explaining features on the retail computer store floor when the person surprised me and said “I’ll take it.”
The Apple Lisa was released on January 19, 1983 at a pricey $9.995, but by 1982 Steve Jobs had already been pushed out of the Lisa team and started devoting his attention to Macintosh. I sold one in the native Lisa mode, and a few of them when they were repackaged as the Macintosh XL in 1985.
The NeXT Computer was what Steve built after he left Apple, and in 1989 I was at a sales rep at Businessland, the only authorized NeXT reseller in the country. It was a perfect 12″ cube, with the perfect logo, and the perfect manufacturing process, ahead of its time on many levels, and a total commercial flop. The very first Web Server was built on a NeXT by Tim Berners-Lee.
The Apple Newton was released at MacWorld Boston on August 2, 1993, and I waited in line and bought one off the show floor the first day. John Sculley was the guy who launched/evangelized it, and Steve Jobs was the guy who killed it a few years later when he was back at Apple. But I think the really bad handwriting recognition lives on in iOS auto-correct.
The Original Apple iPod released on November 10, 2001 – pictured here along with some rare Apple Headphones that came out a few years earlier that weren’t quite as iconic as the white earbud version.
So that’s my Steve Jobs story and a few of his products that really impacted me – many of which stand the test of time of being “Insanely Great.” Thank you Steve!