Posted by: guinness222 | October 14, 2011

“What we really are killing off in this country.”

You can’t have spent any time on this planet if you haven’t heard of Steve Jobs,…in fact you must be a total alien from some other place. (I even know citizens from Xenon who think highly of Steve Jobs.) In this current economy, and the re-discovery of what America SHOULD be and all, that aspect of Steve is overlooked. How many people go from college dropout, to founder and CEO of the largest company in the world. How many people have so deeply and profoundly changed so many lives, created so many jobs, and in his own words, can “Leave a dent in the universe”

One of the “oldie” channels was running a re-run of “The Pirates of Silicon Valley” last night and though I’ve seen it a couple of times I watched and remembered good friends, good times, and all brought to me by Steve Jobs. I go way back with Apple. In fact the very first “personal computer” I owned was an Apple.
A good friend back in the early 80’s was a graduate of the Air Force Academy and was in Data Processing (hows that for a dated term?) and had an Apple II with no cover and he tinkered with it, a clunky old 3″ floppy disk drive and an old beat up dot matrix printer (look it up under ancient and indestructible). I used to get a kick out of the fact that he wrote little programs for it, played some stupid little games and otherwise loved it. He told me about a brand new model about to come out, the “Apple IIe”, so in the best interests of getting my young children something useful and productive, he and I went about 75 miles to a new Apple Dealer one Saturday afternoon, and left with big clunky white boxes with little apples on them. I took it home set it up and ,….well the kids were really too young for this new fangled techno stuff, so even though it was in our 7 year olds room for “justification purposes” that became my first “computer pit”. I bought two floppy drives so it could run a bigger program and save data to the other, and of course the clunky old dot matrix printer. I was truly in awe because my past twenty years or so had been working in business, starting with the old “wire’em yourself” board that went into a machine as big as two refrigerators, you loaded “punch cards” into it and it would sort and print them IF you wired it correctly. Then I got into the “Monsters” from IBM, the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of these new fangled computers. Sterile computer rooms, raised floors with miles of wire underneath the removable floor panels, magnetic tape drives as big as a 30 cubic foot refrigerator, rooms with ten to twelve “keypunchers” just sitting there eight hours a day pounding keyboards and creating fodder for the “mainframe”.

I actually have a picture of me at my desk in 1974 with only an adding machine on it. And I was the  Accounting Manager of a pretty big company with seventy some odd retail department stores. That’s when I learned, we worked for the computer, not the other way around.
Every month when it came time to do the financial statements for the company, I would take home a big briefcase full of pages of analysis paper and calculations and Journal Entries, eat supper, watch a little TV and go to bed, waiting for the phone to ring,..and ring it would, as soon as the computer started to print the financial reports. The Computer Manager would call me whenever that was, 1am, 3 am,…it didn’t matter. He would start reading the financials to me, I would compare them to my hand written entries and pencil statements and if all was correct, I would say “Go ahead.”. I got to go back to bed. If not we burned hours at a time trying to find out what went wrong and correct them because in the morning at 9 am my phone at the office would ring and I would hear “Do you have the new statements?” It got hairy sometimes  believe me. I’d be shaving for work with the phone on the counter by the sink and waiting for the computer guy to let me know if the correction we did worked.

Then I moved up to a MacIntosh, and then a Macintosh SE, by now they were writing programs for them commercially. My first major computer program purchase was an accounting program for my business. I had taken some classes and could write a few rudimentary programs. I started to design a program to route the truck drivers of my little medical supply company, then the BIG fork in the road occurred,  LISA versus the PC. I weighed the options and,….was going to get the Lisa next, and in fact probably two or three of them and this new thing called “networking” was just beginning. 
I could see it going bigtime eventually, imagine hooking two or three computers together and let them share information! But LISA quickly turned into a high priced boat anchor, and the pundits were touting IBM as THE machine for business with this great new DOS operating system made for business.
At about the same time Apple began to focus on the education market. (Probably Steve Jobs biggest mistake.) The logic must have been something like “get’em when they are young hook’em on Apple and when they graduate THEY will demand Apple in the business place and we will win”,….but it didn’t work that way.

I still believed in Apple and kept my Mac SE but had to concede the business to IBM and the “dreaded”PC with it’s “blue screen of death”. I never did like them, and frankly still don’t compared to the Apple. But it’s like trying to buy a special type of lead for your mechanical pencil that is made by one little Tibetan Monk in Nepal and sold out 16 years in advance. If you want to get along in business you gotta “go along” with the prevailing thought,…hence IBM PC and DOS.

But I was a stubborn hold out, in some respects. I tried to run my entire Country Western Club/Irish Pub and restaurant all on my Mac SE, and it worked. One of my soon to be good friends was a “Apple head” as well, and he and I used to play with my SE and try different things.
We found this newly announced thing called “BBS” or Bulletin Boards, and from there into the Internet. BUT since there were not any real “civilian hookups” yet, we lavished pints of Guinness and “Irish Nacho’s” on a girl who frequented the Pub and worked in the “Data Processing Department” at a Major local University, and “voila” we had an in, a user name and password to get on this new fangled thing Al Gore claimed to have invented called “THE INTERNET”.

Meanwhile Mr. Jobs was cranking out bigger better, faster, more reliable, machines, etc., my friend (the alien from Zenon) got into programming, self taught I might add, for his Mac. For several years we had a ball playing on the Apple computers, then , my businesses went South, (NOT because of Apple but because of Country Western fans in the Northeast who were too cheap to even buy two beers for a night’s entertainment and fun), BUT so did I, and I went to work for my friend cleaning buildings at night.
One of those buildings was a new Apple Computer dealer in the next City over. One thing led to another and one night about 1 a.m. as I went in to clean the place I noticed someone working upstairs so I stopped in just to say “Hi, Just the cleaner, don’t shoot me or call the cops”, and again here was another guy I knew from seven years before that, and another business that was successful for me. He was trying to start a company back then, and needed some equipment to comply with the State Laws and I sold him all he needed, (in the back of my mind it was a “flyer” and I really did not expect to see the money anytime soon from him.) I was right, he went under, and now here he was the manager of this new Apple Store. We got to chatting and about a week later he offered me a job selling Apples. I of course LEAPED at the chance. I was going to get paid to play,….YEA!!!

About six or eight months later he got promoted and I was made manager of that store. We were doing quite well and things were growing, and Apple just kept sending bigger better systems, and I wound up becoming an Apple Certified Technician on the side. Meanwhile as the small Apple community was growing with us “crazies” I was loving it. Then I was asked to go to MacWorld in San Francisco with several other employees to man a booth for our company. Again I leapt at it and had a four day whirlwind in “all things Apple”. One of the best experiences of my business life. I knew despite all that was being gossiped and rumored around the internet and computer world, that Apple was here to stay,….then the unthinkable happened. Steve Jobs was dumped (actually a Palace coup by the typical American CEO type named Vince Scully who knew business, but lacked “VISION”, that Steve brought in to Apple.

I wound up leaving the Apple store, starting my own business AGAIN, and moving on and eventually here to Florida. My trusty Mac 9600 with all parts tweaked and maxed out three hard drives, etc still sits below my desk, and occasionally I will play with it and wallow in the ease of use, the lack of the traditional “blue screen of death” and permanent flaws and shortcomings of every Windows product introduced since Bill Gates and company coughed up It’s first Hairball (Windows 95).

As time progressed I bought and iPod nano, eventually an iPod from e-bay, another iPod for my wife, and am now in deep plotting trying to figure out what I have to do to get an iPad! (Oh yeah, bought the wife an iPhone a year or so ago, and she, (Miss non-tech) loved it. SOoooo I got myself one, and love it.

My old hacker buddy is still writing “apps” for the iPhone, moved to Malta and last I heard was in Ireland, ALL my Apples still run great, and I just can’t bear to part with them, even for an upgraded one. I may be getting too old to become “more techie”, but if I could put together an all Apple Network, with server and communication properly, I’d do the deal like Faust.

In fact just bought a Mac “airbook”, and this little thing about as big as a half gallon of milk that is a 2 terrabyte backup and router with a hookup to “iCloud” that stores programs, data, and allows multiple computer connections ,….(holy crap,…sounds like a “server” to me!)

Long way around, but Steve Jobs was a real power and model in my mind of the entrepreneurial capitalism, and had the vision I’ve never seen in anyone else, and had his finger on the real pulse of design, simplicity, and the forward thinking that has marked America for the past three hundred years of entrepreneurial zeal and growth.

Rest in Peace Steve,…somewhere out there there will be others who will move forward and build on your example and share their life with the world as you did.

God knows we need more of those with his thinking, and “guts” in the worst era of American history since the Revolutionary War!!




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