Start-Ups

The Tale of Steve Jobs and the Five Dragons

Steve Jobs resurrected Apple by slaying five dragons. See how he did it. This reprint of a 2010 article is published in honor of Steve Jobs' passing.

This article was originally published on January 25, 2010, on the eve of the unveiling of the iPad. With the passing of Steve Jobs on Wednesday, we're republishing it since it sums up his sweeping legacy in technology.

The career of Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been punctuated by so much drama, so many triumphs and tragedies, it has taken on an almost-mythical quality. Now, the leader that rabid Apple fans see as the white knight of the technology world has set off on another mythical quest to slay a new dragon.

So, it seems appropriate to look back on the sometimes-thorny path Jobs has taken, as well as the four dragons that he has slain. And, of course, we'll look at the new dragon that Jobs is hunting.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

The myth of Steve

Jobs burst on the scene in the late 1970s as the boy leader who became the evangelist of the personal computer revolution. In 1984, he led the team at Apple that brought the graphical user interface to the masses with the Macintosh.

Then, just as quickly as he had burst upon the business world, his world imploded. In a failed struggle for power and control at Apple, he got kicked out of his own company in 1985 and went into exile. He was a rich has-been by the age of 30.

Over the following decade, his next two companies -- NeXT Computer (which he founded) and Pixar Animation (which he bought from George Lucas) - quietly made some important breakthroughs in computing but struggled financially and started bleeding away the $100 million fortune that Jobs had made at Apple.

Jobs launched a coup to reclaim his white knight status in the mid-1990s. His first bit of redemption came with Pixar in 1995 when Toy Story became the highest grossing animated feature of all time and Pixar rode that acclaim to a very successful IPO, orchestrated by Jobs himself. Once the IPO launched, it instantly turned Jobs into a billionaire.

His next bit of redemption was even sweeter. At the end of 1996, a badly-struggling Apple decided to purchase NeXT to help reinvent itself as a technology innovator. Jobs initially joined Apple as an advisor as part of the NeXT deal, but he quickly convinced the Apple board to get rid of its leader, Gil Amelio. As a result, Jobs was thrust into the role of "interim CEO" and company savior.

What happened next was a series of conquests that far exceeded anyone's expectations and returned Apple to the role of technology superpower. These conquests also anointed Steve Jobs with the reputation of being a mix between warrior and magician.

Dragon #1: The Macintosh

When Jobs returned, Apple was in such bad shape that he wasn't even sure it was salvageable - and industry analysts shared his skepticism. The company's finances were in the toilet, the product roadmap was a mess, and the Apple brand itself had lost most of its former luster. Something dramatic was needed to save Apple from being bought out in a fire sale or simply fading into oblivion.

Jobs launched a two-part strategy to reinvigorate Apple. He started with the Think Different ad campaign, which associated the Apple brand with creative thinkers and revolutionaries. It was a huge hit, winning awards, drawing consumer interest, and generating tons of media buzz. But, above all, it set the stage for the rebirth of the Macintosh.

While the Think Different ads were making people feel cooler about the fruity computer maker, Jobs also refocused Apple's product and engineering teams on developing the company's next great product.

By the late 1990s computer sales were spiking due to the new killer app: the Internet. Lots of people were buying their first computers just to "get online." Apple latched on to this trend with a computer that was designed to make connecting to the Internet as easy as taking the computer out of the box and plugging in two cords. Jobs and Co. even named it after the Internet - the iMac.

The iMac was a throwback to the original Mac in that it was an integrated all-in-one system, but it also included a unique new design with a translucent blue and white plastic case that allowed you to see the electronics and circuit boards inside. In the world of beige computers at the time, the iMac was extremely stylish. The launch of the iMac in 1998 (combined with the similarly-styled iBook and Power Mac G4 in 1999) drove a huge spike in Mac sales - at one point the iMac was even the single best-selling computer model in the world.

The Mac was back.

Dragon #2: The iPod

One of the things Apple had occasionally done to increase the appeal of the Macintosh platform was to build its own applications to match the style of the Mac and show off its capabilities. With the Mac's revival and the launch the new Mac OS X operating system in 2001, Apple resurrected the strategy of making some of its own software apps.

One of the apps that it decided to build was a software jukebox so that users could copy music CDs to their Macs and manage all of their music digitally. This was part of Jobs' strategy of turning Apple into a digital lifestyle brand and the Mac into a personal media hub.

In the process of making the software that would become iTunes, the Apple team also decided to make it compatible with some of the new MP3 players that allowed users to carry some of their songs in the digital equivalent of a Sony Walkman. However, after looking at the various MP3 players, Apple decided that all of them were crap and decided to design its own player instead. That's when the iPod was born.

The first iPod launched on October 23, 2001 with 5GB of storage and the promise of "1,000 songs in your pocket." Initially, it was only compatible with Macs and Apple viewed it as an accessory to help increase the appeal of the Mac. But, Jobs quickly realized that the iPod had much broader appeal, and much bigger sales potential.

In 2003, Apple ported iTunes to Windows and sales of the iPod skyrocketed. By the end of 2004, Apple had sold over 8 million iPods and was the dominate force in the digital music player market. Despite this dominance, and the fact that Jobs had convinced the music industry to sell its songs through the iTunes store, there were still a lot of doubts at that point about whether Apple would continue to own this market. With new players coming from Sony, Rio, Creative, Dell, and (eventually) Microsoft, a lot of analysts expected Apple to fade into a niche player, just as it had done in the computer business. It never happened.

By 2009, the iPod accounted for over 70% market share in the digital music player business.

Dragon #3: The Apple Store

When Apple launched the iPod in the fall of 2001, it was a bold and risky move. The company had never had a hit product outside of its computer line, other than companion printers for its computers. Apple was investing a lot in the iPod, and was initially counting on it to help drive a lot of Mac sales.

But, before Apple even launched the iPod, Jobs had already made an even riskier move. On May 19, 2001, Apple opened the doors on its first two retail stores. Both were in malls - in Glendale, California (a suburb of Los Angeles) and Tysons Corner, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, D.C.). The Apple Store was born.

Virtually no one in the press or on Wall Street thought it was a good idea. Gateway and Dell had already tried retail stores and completely flamed out. Microsoft had opened a tech lifestyle store called "microsoftSF" at the Metreon in San Francisco in 1999. Despite its prime location next to the Moscone Convention Center and in the heart of San Francisco's tech community, it was a flop, too.

David Goldstein, a retail consultant writing for TheStreet.com, stated, "It's desperation time in Cupertino, California. I give [Apple] two years before they're turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake."

A funny thing happened with the Apple Store, though: Customers showed up. Apple designed the stores to be high-touch and low-pressure. There was lots of light and open space and people could wander in and try out Apple products and accessories, get help with Mac hardware and software problems, and take classes on how to do new stuff with their Macs.

When Jobs first opened the Apple Store in 2001, Macintosh market share was hovering around 2% of the personal computer market. By 2010, Mac market share had risen to 10% (although some tracking services claim Mac market share is actually only about 5%).

Even beyond the raw market share gains for Mac, the Apple Stores were a runaway financial success. By the beginning of 2010, there were over 200 Apple Stores in 10 countries. In 2007, Fortune declared Apple the most profitable retailer in America. Apple's Regent Street store was called the most profitable in London in 2009. And, in the heart of the retail capital of the world, the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York City was called the highest grossing retailer in Manhattan by Bloomberg.

The most impressive statistic for the Apple Store may be that, in the brutal world of retail, the company has never had to shut down a single store.

Dragon #4: The iPhone

The successful risks that Apple took with the iPod and its retail stores emboldened Jobs and Co. to take another swing for the fences in 2007. At the Macworld Expo in January that year, Steve walked on to the stage for his annual keynote and told the audience, "We're going to make to some history together today."

In a career marked by effective salesmanship, the Macworld 2007 keynote was Jobs at his most persuasive. It also didn't hurt that he had an innovative product to show off.

Thirty minutes into the keynote Jobs paused momentarily and said, "This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and half years. Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything... [You're] very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career. Apple's been very fortunate. It's been able to introduce a few of these into the world. In 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It didn't just change Apple. It changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod, and it didn't just change the way we all listen to music, it changed the entire music industry.

"Well, today, we're introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And, the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device... These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it 'iPhone.' Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone."

In 2007, smartphones were primarily business tools deployed by corporate IT departments. They allowed professionals to check their email from their smartphones at all times. Most of these phones also had some limited Web browsing capabilities, but page loads were slow and reading Web sites on 320x240 screens was not pleasant.

The other problem with the smartphones of the time was that they were difficult to use. The Palm Treo, the BlackBerry, and the various Windows Mobile devices all had a fairly steep learning curve. For consumers buying smartphones at retail locations, there were reports of up to a 50% return rate, simply because people couldn't figure out how to use them.

With the iPhone, Apple wanted to solve two problems. First, it wanted to make smartphones much easier to use, and second, it wanted to make the smartphone a legitimate Web browsing device. With its touch-based interface, the iPhone hit it out of the park on the first goal. From the first day it hit the market (June 30, 2007), the iPhone was the easiest smartphone to use. Many competitors have emulated it since then, but it arguably remains the most simple UI to navigate, especially for new users.

In terms of its goal of putting the full Web browser in the palm of your hand, the first iPhone arguably did succeed in offering the first fully functional and readable Web browser, mostly because of its pinch-to-zoom UI. However, this was negated by the fact that the first iPhone did not have 3G connectivity. So, even though the browser worked well, the Web browsing experience was painfully slow unless you were on Wi-Fi.

The other problem with the first generation iPhone was that it wasn't very useful, especially for business professionals. It did not have the email functionality of the BlackBerry or the Treo, and it didn't have a lot of applications to take advantage of the easy new UI. As a result, a lot of executives and IT departments wrote it off as a toy - mostly just a fancy iPod with a phone in it.

Apple stepped up its game with the second generation iPhone, giving it 3G functionality, Exchange ActiveSync support, better security features for businesses, and opening it up to third-party applications. Then, the third generation iPhone mostly pumped up the internal horsepower of the device.

By the end of 2009, U.S. market share for the iPhone climbed to 30% in a growing smartphone market crowded with a lot of players. Meanwhile, iPhone's global market share grew to 17% in 2009.

However, the biggest victory for the iPhone has been its application ecosystem, which has attracted the most software developers and the most application installs. After opening the doors of its App Store in the summer of 2008, the App Store served its billionth download nine months later on April 23, 2009. Five months later on September 28, 2009, it served its two billionth download. A little over three months later on January 5, 2010, the App Store served its three billionth download.

Dragon #5: The Tablet

Long before Apple released the iPhone, there were rumors that the company was developing a tablet computer. Part of that was due to the PDA legacy with the Apple Newton and part of it was due to expected competition with Microsoft's Tablet PC.

However, an Apple Tablet never appeared. Some of the technology that was rumored to be in the tablet, such as the multi-touch UI, eventually showed up in the iPhone. Nevertheless, the rumors of an Apple Tablet continued even after the iPhone was released. On the heels of one tablet rumor, I remember having a detailed conversation with Macworld Editor in Chief Jason Snell in the summer of 2008 about what an Apple Tablet might entail and why anybody would want one.

In 2009, the rumors of an impending Apple Tablet started to heat up. There was a report in March that Apple had ordered a bunch of 10-inch touchscreens. There were rumors in July that PA Semi, which Apple had acquired in 2008, was building the chips for the Apple Tablet. Then came the rumor in August from The Wall Street Journal that Jobs, who had just returned to Apple after a brush with death and a liver transplant, was spending nearly all of his time and energy on the development of a new touchscreen tablet. Oh, and in September, Apple hired back an original developer from the Newton team.

Ever since The Wall Street Journal article, most analysts, journalists, and observers in the tech industry have assumed that an Apple Tablet was coming. The main question was the timing.

The other big question centered around what the purpose of the tablet would be. Would it just be a big-screen iPhone or iPod Touch? Would it be a Mac laptop with a multi-touch screen and no keyboard? Would it be an e-reader? Would it be gaming platform (after all, games are a big part of the App Store)?

Ask five tech industry experts about the Apple Tablet and you're likely to get at least six different answers. Still the general consensus is the Applet Tablet will be a personal media device and it's primary function will be consuming digital content in various forms - text, audio, video, and a new breed of multimedia mashups.

The most revolutionary aspect of this device is that it could usher in a new era of interactive reading that would change books, newspapers, and magazines forever. As we heard Jobs say in his 2007 iPhone presentation, he loves to create products that can revolutionize industries, and a big swing for the fences like this one would be right up his alley.

It's no secret that these are all industries that are desperately struggling to adapt their business models to the digital age. If Jobs could provide a new platform for them to do it and bring the masses a 21st century reading experience in the process, it would rank as another major conquest in Jobs' prolific career.

Apple has reportedly been wooing content partners for months. Some have even posted their concepts for tablet-based content. Sport Illustrated offered a video of what its digital future could look like, and Ray Kurzweil's Blio eReader software provides a glimpse of what the future of interactive e-books could be.

Recently, Steve Jobs reportedly said, "This will be the most important thing I've ever done."

Coming from him, that says a lot. For that reason, it's also a tall order. Does he have it in him to slay another dragon?

Postscript: The iPad sold 15 million units in 2010, far exceeding even the most optimistic estimates. It is expected to sell 45 million units in 2011. It has caused a lot of people to rethink their ideas of what they want and need in a computing device. Today, I don't think there are many people who would argue that Steve Jobs slayed this dragon, too.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

154 comments
infosifra
infosifra

You said: "At the end of 1996, a badly-struggling Apple decided to purchase NeXT to help reinvent itself as a technology innovator." Question: How can a struggling company (Apple) have enough funds to purchase a money-making company (NeXT)? Invite: Please read my post "Steve Jobs, his departure, and my mysterious numbers" at logicdream.net/blog

mbrello
mbrello

I am a PC user, but I do have an iPod Classic and iPhone 3GS - I will probably buy the current iPhone when I am eligible for an upgrade. Even though we have four computers between the two of us, my husband has been trying to coax me into letting him buy an iPad for "us." (Yeah ... I don't see myself getting to use it much ... LOL). I have much respect for Steve Jobs and the impact he has had on the technology world. He was a true pioneer, and your article shines light on his accomplishments.

htaylor
htaylor

RIP Mr. Jobs, your legacy and life work have provided many of us support, development, and a myriad of other MIS/IT Jobs as well as countless hours of attacking each other on messages boards about which is better a pc or a mac when deep down the answer is whatever allows you to do what you need a computer to do at a price that you are willing to pay.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I think even now it's a fair honorarium for a very special person.

donnydo77
donnydo77

A lot involved with Apple but at the core of its operation mostly is the ability to repackage user friendly technology and use effective marketing schemes to maintain their niche and identity. Holding the user at bay as the sole source for software and even hardware support is not new but Apple does it extremely well. Even with the apps explosion, Apple still requires using its store as the only source or place that vendors and users must resort to make exchanges. Please provide additional information otherwise although I'm not criticizing but making observations on how Apple has developed and held a market niche. I've been interested in a portable touch screen device with use beyond my Toshiba Pocket PC and even interested in an iTablet. Keep up the good work Mr Jobs. If it wasn't for Apple's part in spurring competition through product innovation and marketing schemes, then the tech developments would likely be lagging and rather dull.

thamadgreek
thamadgreek

Lets just stick to the facts. Apple was crap till they moved to the UNIX core. If they want to stay proprietary then build your own stability and stop integrating another to make you look better. Oh wait Microsoft does the same so why not jump on the wagon.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I thought the iTunes app existed by another name and was purchased before Apple added any development into it. I also don't know the program's history so I ask for my own clarification.

skorpion771
skorpion771

Thanks Jason for all the Steve Jobs history, The man was an Inspiration and an Innovator,(NO JEALOUSY HERE) I bet many detractors wish they could claim just (ONE ACCOMPLISHMENT)that has touched the lives of so many. Thanks Jason well done.

ashish_pandita
ashish_pandita

Apple rocks let apple rule the technology. Apple rocks!!

JaimeLuz
JaimeLuz

I have to compliment Jobs and his team. For years they have churned out products that give technology a more human touch, and make them easy to use. They are frustrating for those of us who love to tinker and customize. I would love a tablet that does everything the iPhone does but adds TV and Ebooks. If I want to tinker I can install and play with Linux, if I just want to go with the right side of my brain and relax, I do apple.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

After reading this article and some of the responses to it, I have to say that one thing sticks out to me. Changing mind sets is really difficult. This has worked for Jobs and against him. First off, he realized this when he started to market to upper middle class non-technical people and has established Apple as a brand. The result is that if Apple started making tooth brushes, people would have the idea that Apple made the best tooth brushes and he could see them for $40 if he wanted. But it has also worked against him when it comes to people who work in the I.T. industry. Many of us, myself included, still see Apple as a niche market and don't take them seriously. The positive for Jobs is that this mind set is starting to change and this can be attributed to the IPhone. The same IT guy that would never buy an IMac will buy an IPhone. All the executives including our CIO and my boss have them and would give up oxygen before they would give up their IPhones. The only potential hurdle I see is the cost factor but then again, they market to a more affluent market which tends to spend regardless of the economy.

ssampier
ssampier

Okay, so we know that Steve Jobs reinvigorated Apple. How can tech leaders take these examples as lessons and learn from them? In other words, how can IT leaders slay their own dragons?

mely
mely

You forgot one more giant dragon he defeated: Death itself.

Boohga
Boohga

Hiner: functional illiterate extraordinaire!

JulesLt
JulesLt

In terms of Dragons, I think the biggest one Jobs slew was Apple's product range - when he came back they had loads of models, with overlapping prices points and ranges. These days, while you can customise via build-to-order, there is relatively little to deciding what machine you want - laptop, all-in-one, desktop - and then how much do you want to spend. That's problematic for those of us who have long wanted a medium priced tower system (iMac specs in a desktop form) but we're untypical customers. I've been involved in a couple of PC purchases with untechnical people in the last 12 months, and the hard part, for them, was deciding the 'best' deal for their budget (which of these 4 identically priced and cased Toshiba models with different specs is the 'best one') - and in one case led to going round 4-5 different stores, and buying a completely different brand from where we started out. I have the same problem myself with mobile phones ? too many similar models with different trade offs, yet not the exact combination of features I want. With the iPhone ? well, if you want a camera with a higher number of pixels, or a keyboard ? tough. The choice is whether you want what is on offer, or not. I think their rivals still underestimate the significance of this. Oh, and the first gen iPhone did have POP and IMAP email - the type consumer ISPs and webmail provide - it was just missing Exchange support - but as a device it was obviously aimed at consumers. It's amazing how arrogant a lot of business analysts are in predicting a product that doesn't meet the needs of business users must therefore fail.

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

Dragons are, like, obstacles. Big ones. You never told us what the five great antagonists were.

DadsPad
DadsPad

With Apple success, especially with the iPod and iPhone, will the iTouch be the same inovate product? With the popularity of eReaders, an 10 inch iTouch with an iInk mode to make reading easy on the eyes and graphical at the same time, this could change this industry. Add full pc and internet functionality, could easily be another winner. If Apple/Jobs and keep looking at the market, analyzing what people want and is not offered, many things can be a winner. The industy envys the iPod and iPhone success (I don't have either), but where is the others producing products the same way?

dealguru
dealguru

Jason great post. Apple has become one of the best technology firms in the world and may be the best marketing/design firm in the industry. Still with only a relatively small market share they are able to generate enormous profits and have an outsized impact on the market. The next dragon is finding real replacements for the current leadership. Jobs can't work forever.

antplate
antplate

Wonder or Wander? "..and people could wonder in and try out.." nice article though.

elizabeth.stone
elizabeth.stone

Dragon #3: The Apple Store, para. 5: Did you mean to say "wander"? Funny that either word will fit.

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Seriously, Microsoft would be considered a Dragon, these weren't competition to be overcome they created them, and granted they created some great stuff. But not dragons, perhaps crocodiles but even that seems a bit too lofty. If Macs ever hit 40% market share we can talk about slaying a Dragon. However I'm not convinced that they won't then become the next Dragon.

kerryspline
kerryspline

"his two new companies ? NeXT ... and Pixar ..." Jobs may have invented NeXT, but Jobs bought Pixar from Lucasfilms in the latter 1980's. Jobs invented Pixar as much as Al Gore invented the Internet.

EliSko
EliSko

I have to disagree with you. Completely. I was an early Apple/Mac evangelist, and set up many retail businesses with Macs and Fat Macs, using HyperCard and pfs:File and the like to handle their needs. Mac didn't work in the embedded sector, though, and so I drifted away. I came back in 1998 when, after getting sick of a series of crappy Wintel laptops from HP, Compaq, et al., a customer overseas loaned me a Wall Street. It ran System 8.5, and when I installed MS-Office I found that I was able to continue doing my documents and spreadsheets, and show my PowerPoints, with an easy interface to a video projector display, no hassle Ethernet networking (remember aftermarket Winstacks?) and non-stop operation when switching between two batteries - one in each bay. I came back from that trip and told my PA, who was a Mac fanboy himself, to get me one before I had to go out on the road again the following week. I was hooked again, and didn't look back. Before OS X came out, I also started using ClarisWorks (later, AppleWorks) and it did most of what I needed from MS-Office, but did it quicker, and more simply, than Microsoft's bloatware. I also never found myself in "Word hell" anymore, when you could make a change in a large, complex Word doc and suddenly find that something else 15 or 20 pages later would get messed up, usually the formatting.... The pre-OS X days were much better than the equivalent technology for Wintel back then, too.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

I agree with what you said. We should use Jobs's accomplishments as a standard as to what we can accomplish instead of tearing others down to make ourselves feel better.

EliSko
EliSko

Finally, someone has posted a germane question and an enlightening new thought. Way to go, ssampier!

MmeMoxie
MmeMoxie

Time will tell the tale. For now, he has had a reprieve. Cancer is very insidious. It has been known to come back and haunt you.

jpratch
jpratch

It is amazing how a bunch of IT professionals who have to work their @$$es off every day can be so critical of a man who was wealthy, yet fired at age 30, who reinvented himself and several industries over the next 20 years and continues to be one of the major creative forces in those industries regardless of his company's market share. It is an accurate article, written in a positive voice and what is wrong with that?

tracy.walters
tracy.walters

I was a pretty big Apple fan back in the Apple ][ days...spent quite a bit of money on the hardware and software and loved it. That was back in the early to mid eighties. The PC came out and Apple had the Mac...it just didn't meet the needs of hardcore business like the PC did. Yes, there was an issue with prejudice against the GUI, but most got over that. The issue was and still is (for both Mac and Linux) the availability of applications to meet the industry needs. I really like Woz and liked Jobs, and when NeXT was born, many of us jumped in with both feet. I was part of a government organization that bought heavily into NeXT products, only to be abandoned a very short time later. I realized at the time that this was standard practice for Jobs, he did it with the Apple ][ (despite the Apple II forever campaign), he did it with the NeXT, he did it with the non-Intel Macs, and he'll do it in a heartbeat again when it serves his purpose. I met Jobs twice during the NeXT implementation process, and despite my predispostion to support him, I always felt like he would betray me if he had a chance. He certainly did it more than once to Woz. His mystique is interesting.

jgaskell
jgaskell

This is a list of achievements, not dragons. I think Mr Hiner has misunderstood the "slaying dragons" metaphor here. I am already very familiar with this list of Jobs' achievements - I thought I was clicking on something a bit more interesting.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You might say that, but then, somehow those windmills turn into dragons at the last second, and have influenced the world. He's not slaying the dragons, unless you figure resistance to change as a dragon. Rather, he's creating new dragons that are slowly devouring the competition. The only way to fight a dragon, is with a dragon of your own.

boggs
boggs

Right, just like we all read in the article. "Over the following decade, his next two companies ? NeXT Computer (which he founded) and Pixar Animation (which he bought from George Lucas") I can't find the delete post button but I guess I read the article after a tweak or change for clarification.

joeaxberg
joeaxberg

I dont' think the article implied he invented pixar. However without Jobs' money and influence, I don't think Pixar would be where they are today.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I tweaked the sentence to make it clearer.

dhearne
dhearne

Al Gore never said he invented the internet. Educate yourself so you don't look foolish. www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp

frenches
frenches

You mean Al Gore didn't invent the internet? What about global warming?

rick
rick

You are correct that Jobs didn't invent Pixar. From my understanding, when Mr. Lucas was going thru his divorce in the mid 80's, he needed to dump some net worth or he was going to get stuck paying the ex a hefty sum. I believe he sold Pixar to Jobs for $10 million. But I still think we have to give Jobs some credit here. Look at what Pixar was in 1986 versus 1996 when he went back to Apple. He turned Pixar into a company that made Toy Story, and they haven't really changed their strategy since. The other movies (Monsters Inc. etc.) you could argue came after he was back selling fruit but they are still using the same basic concept today as they did with Toy Story 1 when Jobs was there. And believe it or not, I am a PC guy :)

sirsowk
sirsowk

That's right. It seems pc, software, and mobile companies besides are lacking innovators nowadays. Either they are honing the crabs in bucket theory or they are plainly gutless people. I wondered what happened to true American spirit with full of ideas? Well, at least, I'm glad we have people like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozinak who are pushing our technologies to unknown realms.

jgaskell
jgaskell

...Steve Jobs is already dead and has been replaced by a lookalike named William Campbell.

david_horsman
david_horsman

Yeah, you're right. Ever had tech support ask you what YOU did to cause a problem? Jobs makes us feel nervous and inadequate. Must be something wrong with him ;)

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

The negative comments about this article and Jobs show a sad side of human nature. What Jobs did was admirable. Say what you want, since he took over, Apple went from a company on the brink of being a footnote in history to changing the direction of technology. Apple has gone from the hunter to the hunted.

jpratch
jpratch

You were in a Government Organization that went "NeXT". In 1983 I was in an organization that went with the DEC Professional 350 as an Engineering Desktop Computer. The PDP-11 that fit on a desk! Ken Olson said that "personal" computers would never catch on. The DecMate, Rainbow and Pro 350 were great machines backed by a non-visionary and died as did DEC. The Pro 350 was a cool beast for the time. I still have one in my attic. It kind of puts Steve Jobs' accomplishments into a context. In 1984, I hated the GUI and wanted DCL (Dec Command Language), CP/M, UNIX Command Line or a DOS prompt to "TELL" the machine what to do. And then I bought a used "Fat Mac", put a MacRescue card in it and got seduced. Back in the Fat Mac and Mac Plus days you COULD tinker with hardware and if you were brave and had "ResEdit" you could even tinker with the software. I learned a lot about Object Oriented Software concepts using ResEdit on that Mac!

EliSko
EliSko

... was known as the "Jobs' Reality Distortion Field" [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_distortion_field ] going back to his first stint at Apple. It's the inspiration of feeling that you're in the presence of vision and genius, rather than arrogance and despotic over-control. I think that he's kind of a benevolent Hitler... If the little Austrian with the big mustache had spent more time in business than politics, and less time trying to blame Jews for everything, he might have have been a Steve Jobs a half century earlier, and who knows where the German economy might have gone, then.

JMHtech
JMHtech

Thanks for sharing the experience with NeXT. What did your organization migrate to after the NeXT flame-out?

kerryspline
kerryspline

It may seem a minor point, but the unintended implication comes from the many people who for whatever reason actually do believe Jobs was the original creator/inventor of Pixar. Someone once told me that Jobs himself implied such in some speech he gave at a university in a manner similar to the Gore quotations quoted in some of the other comments to my original post. Though I don't know that for fact. Maybe someone can enlighten us about that.

dcolbert
dcolbert

It is *right* there in the Snopes article. That isn't a paraphrase, that is a direct quote from Al Gore. "I took the initiative in CREATING the Internet". (Emphasis is mine). The article then goes on to say "Clearly, although Gore's phrasing might have been a bit clumsy (and perhaps self-serving) he was not claiming that he "invented" the Internet." No, if his phrashing is "a bit clumsy and perhaps self serving", then CLEARLY his original statement was about as transparent as dirt - at best. Snopes is the Internet, just like Wikipedia, and you should still exercise common sense and critical thinking when referring to Snopes to prove or debunk a claim. In this case, I think it is reasonable that political bias has a lot of influence in how an individual does or does not interpret Al Gore's original statement. The one thing that can't be denied is Al Gore's direct quote. Here, I'll repeat it, from Snopes, one more time, just for good measure. "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initative in CREATING the Internet". During my time at MCI, I took the initiative of CREATING the eBusiness model. (I really mean I was part of a team and my contributions were key, if minor factors in the success of a very early model of eBuisness delivery of services by a major corporation that was among the first early adopters to provide eBusiness servers, services and products via dial-up public network. CLEARLY that is what I was trying to say above, I was just clumsy, and maybe a little self serving, in how I worded it)... *eyes rolling*.

KansasITGuy
KansasITGuy

Seriously? you are using this argument to call him foolish? "Al Gore never said he invented the internet. Educate yourself so you don't look foolish. www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp" If you read through the article, it does a very bad job of trying to redeem Al Gore by "creating" a difference between the word "create" that Gore used, and the word "invent" that everybody assumes he said. The fact is, if there was that much difference between the 2 words, the rest of the media/world would not STILL be making fun of him for that faux pa. His speech was sloppy and obviously not proofread by someone intelligent, and he deserves the criticism.

sirsowk
sirsowk

Sold to Disney for 7 billion dollars(if I remembered the price correctly) And that made Steve the largest shareholder of Disney. Not bad for 10 million dollars purchase.

supermadman
supermadman

The relative success of Apple and its association with high-quality and high-polish products, as well as easy-to-use interfaces, is evidence towards Steve Job's genius. No, the products aren't for everyone, and no, sometimes they're not the absolute best be-all-and-end-all solution on the market, but through way of clever design and intelligent marketing (with the exception of the more recent Mac vs. PC adverts), Apple has become a company that few haven't heard of. I also happen to think that Steve Jobs' charismatic traits have some part to play in Apple's success, as I consider him and the presentations of his products to be a powerful marketing tool as well. The products are brilliant, and that's why they sell at all: that doesn't mean I don't hate them (which I really, REALLY do!). Again, it's not because the product is bad, but because it isn't necessarily aimed at people like me as a target market/consumer. Also: Apple has gone from the *hunted to the hunter. ;)

dcolbert
dcolbert

Like the infamous Gates "PCs will never need more than 640k of ram" unquote. In retrospect, it sounds just plausible enough to have been heard and taken out of context - but unlikely enough that it seems doubtful anyone as successful in the industry as Bill Gates has been would have made it. Now, a politician saying something absolutely stupid - they do that *all* the time, regardless of if they ride donkeys or elephants. :)

david_horsman
david_horsman

Hi D Colbert, I missed your response but thought I would add a response (6 weeks later.) You raise several good points and have strong views on this issue. My original motivation for researching Gore's Internet comment was due to the massive number of times I've seen reference to it. It seemed disproportionate and highly political and on that basis a little suspicious. My tongue in cheek claim that he did invent it after all was intended to draw attention to the importance of the role of legislators in making a technology rise to significance rather that disappear into obscurity. It has always been clear he misspoke, but at the same time he is entitled to claim a good deal of credit in making it a reality (politically.) From a technical standpoint, not to be an apologist, he may have assumed nobody would think he contributed technology and was being brief. At the same time, in making his claim, to not specifically mention the individuals and organizations that did ?invent? the Internet was phenomenally rude. You are right to draw attention to Gore?s involvement in global warming. There is a huge list of actions and commitments he could have taken on a personal basis to legitimize his role as a ?crusader? on this issue where he has instead done nothing. The level of hypocrisy displayed is indeed very disappointing. I don?t really have any issue with the details of your response for the most part. However, I am not political or partisan, but fairly curious. Having heard years of references to his statement without ever once hearing a reference to his legislative efforts in this area struck me as very political. My motive was objectivity, and Gore?s sad performance in the other areas you mentioned (where I concur) does not erase his track record in this one instance. So there you go, I guess Al did invent the internet? and global warming too. Respectfully, Dave Horsman

dcolbert
dcolbert

This (Al Gore statement) comes across like the self-serving rhetoric of a middle or executive manager taking credit for the ideas, creativity, and hard work of his employees. At the worst, it sounds as stupid as any tongue-tripping phrase George W. Bush ever uttered, but potentially worse because Al Gore doesn't have the benefit of being well known as a horrible public orator recognized for his ability to muddy simple phrases. In either case, the reason it lives on (especially among people working in technology) is because it is a particularily galling example of a politician with no significant understanding of technology making broad statements that are as annoyingly off base as most scenes of computer use in Hollywood blockbusters. I'm not political either. I wish Orrin Hatch (R) - Utah, would stop voicing his opinions on technology matters too. I heard Rush talking about MP3s about a decade ago and how the dynamic range was so horrible that it would never be adopted as a replacement technology for traditional media, and wanted to crawl through the radio and beat him with a Creative Xen Jukebox. Defending Al Gore on this issue is accepting his behavior on this issue, and his behavior was unacceptable. He misspoke, he spoke in ignorance, and he discredited himself in the act of doing this. It isn't as bad as scenes of him flying over the Amazon in a private jet spewing carbon into the atmosphere, a tear rolling down his eye like a Native American looking at a land-fill, with a PowerBook carefully positioned in the middle of the frame. But it is close. There are multiple examples of Al Gore behaving in this general manner. I bring them up whenever I get the chance because I hope that my critical thinking skills will rub off on people who read my posts, and they'll start calling politicians on the same behavior I observe. That is why *I'm* unwilling to let this one drop when I have the opportunity to address it. It is but one grievence I have about Al Gore and his political activities. We can also talk about how he sat as the President of the Board of Directors at Apple and pardoned Steve Jobs of any wrong doing in the SEC case of post-dated options. How many times do we have to illustrate that this guy is a protypical corrupt politician before people stop drinking his Kool Aide without ever questioning it? If you can't see the hypocrisy and political contempt for the average voter in either of these examples, then it is hard for me to chalk that up to anything other than partisian, political bias. My opinions are absolutely political, but they're not partisan. I'm willing to call out any politician acting the fool. Most frequently, I find that this is Democrats - but Republicans certainly aren't immune.

EliSko
EliSko

Thanks, David, for a very thought-provoking article. Maybe I was being a little harsh, but ... back in the day I worked in Bell Labs with the very guys who were doing a lot of the actual work to make the Internet what it is today. And I don't remember that Al Gore's name ever came up at Murray Hill, Summit, Middletown, or Holmdel. He might have been cheerleading for us on Capitol Hill, but I think of guys like Steve Bellovin, who sat across the hall from me, and Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, from the main building, as being more directly involved.

david_horsman
david_horsman

If speaking of the eBusiness model, or the Kermit protocol that would be true. If you said you took the iniative in CREATING a safe planet nobody would think you did it single handedly, but were involved. Everyone knows you did not create the planet, safe or otherwise. Possibly in a central manner yes. In the eBusiness case, knowing you so well, I would assume you contributed as a technician. Were you a politician, I would not assume you were the technician that created it. More to the point. Though I might consider your comments self-serving, I doubt I would spend years using that faux pac to discredit you and destroy your reputation. What does that say about politics then. It's kind of like harping on an author over one spelling mistake, or a poster for having commited a faux pux. Did you not mean to say "in CREATING" rather than "of CREATING". And the interview ended there without another word to further clarify this context? I hear this Gore reference in all kinds of threads and would of (did I mean have?) appreciated a more complete and unbiased sample of the interview. Wow, how many years has it been now? Snopes seems reasonable, you seem political.

DNSB
DNSB

Does Esperanto have words like poppycock and gobbledygook? Given that Esperanto is an artificial language and quite a few words have been added to it over the years, no reason why it would not have those words added. The spelling and grammar would use the structure of Esperanto so they might end up looking a bit different. There was an Esperanto translation of Lewis Carroll's poetry a while back. Jabberwocky came out even odder than it reads in English. Kiel alta muso kiam ĝi turnadas?

dcolbert
dcolbert

In Spanish, if I have one complaint, it is when conjucation of a verb creates a completely different word so that you have to understand what is being said in *context* otherwise it makes no sense. Comer conjucating into como is one example that comes readily to mind - but there are countless other examples. Regional dialects and pronounciations are tricky also, as can be strings of words sounding like a totally different single word when strung together. I think all languages have these issues, and agree, English is probably the *worst* offender - but I still prefer English to French. I prefer RUSSIAN to French. French, like so many things in French culture, just seems overblown with it's own self-importance - difficult just for the sake of being difficult - with a quality of pride and arrogance about it. Weird that a language can reflect the cultural values of an entire people.

lulu
lulu

Does Esperanto have words like poppycock and gobbledygook?

DNSB
DNSB

For the one language that is the worst, you have to nominate English. How many other languages can have words with the same spelling but totally different pronunciation and the opposite with different spellings but the same pronunciation. At least in French you would never bow to the queen but take your bow and arrow out hunting. Nor could you write an equivalent of the tough cough and hiccough sentence. A paraphrase that I think is very appropriate was to the effect that "English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar and loose vocabulary". Esperanto anyone?

dcolbert
dcolbert

You say val-lay-ho and he says va-yeah-ho. Tomato, tomatoe... :) Once you get into Spain, all bets are off. The Spanish don't seem to like to talk to fluent Southern Americans, let alone have to listen to some white dude from California butchering their language... and that is Spanish. Get into Catalan and all that, and not remembering to lisp your "Cs" is the least of your communication problems. :) Gave me that much more respect for immigrants in our country trying to learn the language. It is weird that there seems ot be a universal response to be dismissive of someone trying to learn your language who doesn't quite get it, yet. I wish I could be conversationally fluent for just one day. :)

jksenter2
jksenter2

what be actually said in an interview with WOLF BLITZER was " I took the initiative in creating the Internet." COMPLETE INTERVIEW FOLLOWS CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly Transcript: Vice President Gore on CNN's 'Late Edition' March 9, 1999 Web posted at: 5:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT) CNN'S WOLF BLITZER: Mr. Vice President, thanks for joining us on Late Edition. VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: Glad to do it. BLITZER: You're going to be going to Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming days. Less than a year from now, we probably will know who the Democratic nominee is, who the Republican nominee is for the president. Why do you want to be president? GORE: Well, Wolf, I haven't formally announced my candidacy yet, but when I do, I will lay out a vision of what I want to see in this country in the 21st century. And the campaign won't be about me, it'll be about the American people, and I hope they'll choose that vision of a nation with strong families and livable communities, in harmony with all of our diversity and fully prepared to lead the world. BLITZER: You've created an exploratory committee, though. When do you make the formal announcement? It's not going to be... GORE: Later this year. BLITZER: It's not going to be a surprise. GORE: Well, perhaps not. But it won't come until later this year. BLITZER: When? GORE: Haven't picked a date. BLITZER: Are you looking at some precedents, some previous examples? When Vice President Bush, for example, made his announcement? GORE: No, I won't base it on previous campaigns, I'll just look at see what seems like the right time. BLITZER: Some people have suggested that you will try to emerge from Bill Clinton's shadow during the course of the coming year. Others say you don't want to emerge from his shadow. The question to you is, do you want to emerge from the president's shadow? GORE: Well, I don't feel like I'm in his shadow. I think the job of vice president is very different and very distinct from the job of president. And for the last 6 years-plus, I've concentrated on doing the best job I can as vice president to help he be the best president he can be. And I've really enjoyed that. It's been a great privilege and honor, but as a presidential candidate -- when I become one -- I will be in a very different relationship to the American people. And at that time, I'll be speaking about my vision for what I want to see in this country in the 21st century. And I'm looking forward to that. I'm very excited about the chance. BLITZER: And the Al GORE vision will not be necessarily completely the same as the Bill Clinton? GORE: Well, no, because the challenges we face in the future are different from the ones we face in the past. I have been very much involved in shaping our current economic policies, and I feel as if I know a great deal about how to keep our prosperity going. We have a governing coalition willing to support the ideas that work for the American people. I have also participated in shaping our environmental and education and crime fighting policies and other initiatives, but the challenges are going to be brand new. You know, the 21st century is not only the beginning of a new millennium, it's the beginning of an entirely new era in human history and we have to take new approaches. BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and international issues in a minute, but let's just wrap up a little bit of the politics right now. Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process? GORE: Well, I will be offering -- I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be. But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Them trills and the "j" and the Castilian that gets you laughed at around here.

dcolbert
dcolbert

But you've got to admire the guy for trying *that* line... Especially when you think of what Hillary might be capable of. Anyhow, I don't think that was the *Democrat* Bill Clinton speaking, so much as the *lawyer* Bill Clinton speaking... and there are a lot of lawyers on both sides of the political fence on Capitol Hill. Which is probably part of the problem. :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

If the French spelled things right - people wouldn't make so many mistakes trying to spell in French. Letters that are there that are silent, letters that aren't there that are pronounced. French must be one of the most ornery, pretentious languages known to man... c'est la vie. No parlez vous francais. (Really? "Say la vee. No parley voo frahnsay"?!? How you get those sounds out of the letters above is a complete mystery). I like the in your face simplicity of Spanish, myself. /French Rant

EliSko
EliSko

Ya done saved me the trouble of perntin' out yer very own fox paws....

EliSko
EliSko

How about the fine distinction between fellatio and intercourse, and what constitutes adultery? Of course, that was Al Gore's running mate-with-anything.....

lulu
lulu

I mean we're

lulu
lulu

Faux pas

EliSko
EliSko

Didn't Al Gore invent the Internet ahead of time so that he would have a way of publicizing the threat of global warming after he went on to invent that? [just kidding!] But I do believe that, given all of the contradictory metereologic / climatological data that has until recently been suppressed, the threat of global warming WAS an invented thing. As for the Internet ... well I used to use it, banging out enough emails for a gopher to find, when it was Arpanet, while Al Gore was still an "Atari Democrat" in the House, waffling between the Democrats and licking Reagan's rear. That was before Tim Berners-Lee gave three double-yous a Whole neW tWist....

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