Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Come On, People. Steve Jobs Was Not God.

  • Oct 06 / 2011
  • 60
technology

Come On, People. Steve Jobs Was Not God.

I am being inundated with wild claims of fans of Steve Jobs about how wonderful he was. The facts are a different patchwork:

  • He invented the PC – Nope. Not even close. I still have a working PC from 1980. The Macintosh did not emerge until 1984.
  • He invented the GUI – Nope. Not even close. He got the idea from Xerox who got it from … I was using crude GUIs in the 1970s and they were old then.
  • He inspires inventors – Nope. Many inventive people don’t even bother because some bully like Apple will sue them for inventing something.
  • He was a great businessman – Nope. The best that could be said was that he learned from his mistakes. He eventually learned to delegate which is why Apple’s share price has not tanked upon his death. He made huge blunders in the early days of Apple: trying to do everything in-house, building stuff like tanks full of heat sources and hot air, and delaying release to market by years. It was only after his “second coming” that he showed that he actually learned from his mistakes by making small computers.
  • He was a wonderful human being – Nope. He stole from his buddy, Steve Wozniak, he was a temperamental bully, and a deadbeat dad who lied about paternity.

UPDATE I have been criticized for writing ill of the dead but I am not alone. Marcel Gagne writes, “I believe in having the ability to choose what I want to run and how I want to run it. I believe in being able to select what to run on my computers. I believe in open standards and a level playing field for business large and small. I believe that vendor lock-in hurts consumers and stifles innovation. I don’t believe in restrictive and highly questionable software patents (see ‘stifling innovation). I don’t believe in restricting individual freedoms with digital rights management in regards to fair use (e.g. making backups, putting my media on more than one device, etc). I don’t believe in borrowing ideas from others and then turning around and suing them as part of how I run my business.

Steve Jobs was a great man who did what few ever manage to do in a lifetime. He changed the world. In many ways for the better. But not always.

Amen.

UPDATE Another article gives deeper insight.

Topics include:

  • Censorship and Authoritarianism – “Jobs never seemed comfortable with the idea of fully empowered workers or a truly free press. Inside Apple, there is a culture of fear and control around communication; Apple’s “Worldwide Loyalty Team” specializes in hunting down leakers, confiscating mobile phones and searching computers.”
  • Sweatshops, Child Labor and Human Rights – “Apple’s factories in China have regularly employed young teenagers and people below the legal work age of 16, made people work grueling hours, and have tried to cover all this up. That’s according to Apple’s own 2010 report about its factories in China. In 2011, Apple reported that its child labor problem had worsened.”
  • In Person and At Home – “Jobs regularly belittled people, swore at them, and pressured them until they reached their breaking point. In the pursuit of greatness he cast aside politeness and empathy. His verbal abuse never stopped.”

See What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs

60 Comments

  1. Sean

    A lovely string of dialogue. Enjoyable read.
    Jobb’s was nothing more than an artful plagiarist.

    Go back to DEC, RT11 RSX11M and see how their CLI developed into UNIX……….CPM then MSDOS and how Apple ripped of Xerox’s GUI and Creatives ‘IPOD’. KNow your history, it’s telling stuff.

    Jobb’s…….a skillful marketeer and nothing more. If Clive Sinclair had lived in the US; with the access to capital there, the super-hype and super hype junkies you’d never have heard of Jobbs.

  2. twitter

    Ha. Oldman said,

    “[twitter] is IMHO nothing more than an ignorant fool. You really should consider the possibility that all you do is make youself look like him, with all the negative connotations that that association brings.”

    More personal stuff, eh Oldman? Name calling is the first and last refuge for you Microsoft types. That and threats. It’s sad really, that so large a portion of IT is built on such an ugly base.

    I also see that there are threats of even more nyms. That’s what is meant, I’m sure, when you say that others will raise these points if bans are placed. It’s true. The Microsoft PR people have a near infinite supply of IP addresses to wage their wars of aggression, but the fight is worth while. PJ has done well tossing the obvious trolls over the fence.

    The deeply personal attacks on Pogson seen here are really unforgivable, especially in context.

  3. Robert Pogson

    Beautiful link! Thanks.

    “What Steve Jobs did was create an army of narcissistic, self-centered, self-absorbed, zombie clones by sucking their very souls into his world like Shang Tsung.”

    That does not even touch on the anti-competitive/business aspects but it completes the picture… Apple fans are like that. My brother used to be one but we saved him. Chuckle.

  4. Robert Pogson

    Schools have limited or no budgets for IT. A slug of money becomes available. If they bought from Apple then they go many years stocking up on software for Apple’s machines and are locked in. That’s how it happens. They were not thinking of lock-in when they made the first expenditure. It was just the “in thing” to do. It was a mistake they later corrected but it was a decade of deficient IT in schools. The last school I was in that used Apple’s products was 2000 when there was a lab full of iMacs. All the others mostly use ATX boxes with x86 inside. Even Apple’s migration to x86 has not brought them back because of the higher prices and the “walled garden”. It keeps people in but also keeps them out.

  5. oldman

    ““I am old enough to remember what Apple produced before the Mac, Apple I and II.””

    That would be nothing Pog. the Apple I was the first apple computer.

  6. ch

    “Read about the history of the Apple Lisa.”

    Short version: Apple built something innovative but too expensive, so it flopped. Then they built something more affordable (based on that innovation) and it was a success. Yes, when you innovate instead of imitating, sometimes the result will flop – that’s life. (And Apple had some shiploads of money at the time so it was not that likely they would starve.)

  7. ch

    “I am old enough to remember what Apple produced before the Mac, Apple I and II.”

    I don’t doubt that, but unfortunately you had written: “I remember the first Macs in schools.”
    Well, regarding the Apple II UI we agree.

    However:
    “That was what got into schools.”

    And _how_ did it get there ? Did Steve Jobs hold a gun to your head ?

    “It created a monopoly similar to DOS in the x86 world.”

    How ?

    “It persisted until about 2000″

    You were using Apple II machines until 2000 ? Tell me how SJ can be blamed for that ?

  8. Robert Pogson

    Read about the history of the Apple Lisa. How many years did it take Apple to crank it out because they tried to re-invent the wheel for every step of the manufacture? He was very lucky Apple did not starve to death then. That was bad business. Steve Jobs started Lisa in 1978 and it was not sold until 1983. They sold a few for $10K and it ended production in 1986 with thousands unsold and scrapped. That was bad business. Would a good business man have managed a project with so little regard to cost/benefit?

  9. Balton Fargas

    “He was a great businessman – Nope”

    Er… Checked AAPL’s chart lately chum? I think it went up like 13,000 % under his second tenure. And Pixar…

    I understand your having issues with the guy, but this shows that your reasoning is impaired by zealotry. And then acting as though the Mac was Apple’s first “PC,” saying it wasn’t usable and then ex post facto applying the absurd qualifier/unfair standard “compared to today’s PCs”? C’mon, I’m embarrassed for you.

  10. Robert Pogson

    ch wrote, “They all have GUIs, that’s essentially what makes them Macs.) So when you now write “a GUI at least””

    I am old enough to remember what Apple produced before the Mac, Apple I and II. They were run by floppy apps with crude graphics if any. I remember text-only apps.

    “The video controller displayed 24 lines by 40 columns of monochrome, upper-case-only (the original character set matches ASCII characters 0×20 to 0x5F) text on the screen, with NTSC composite video output suitable for display on a TV monitor, or on a regular TV set by way of a separate RF modulator.”

    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_II

    That was what got into schools. It created a monopoly similar to DOS in the x86 world. It persisted until about 2000 when schools realized x86 was superior in price/performance.

  11. ch

    “I was meaning to use by today’s standards, a GUI at least.”

    You wrote about _Macs_ in school. Have you ever seen a Mac ? (Note: They all have GUIs, that’s essentially what makes them Macs.) So when you now write “a GUI at least”, were you actually referring to Apple IIs ? Or did you really mean to say “Macs in 1984 were not as easy to use as current machines, and therefore I am glad that Steve Jobs is gone” ???

  12. Contrarian

    “it’s about something else…”

    So why don’t you focus on that “something else”? Wouldn’t that be more informative? If there are 100 or more people using a personal computer and only one using a Linux version, wouldn’t you like to know why?

    All due to illegal activities and continuing FUD, you say. Whether that is true or not can be argued, but even if it were the case wouldn’t you be somewhat interested in the exact mechanisms by which it occurred or continues to operate?

    All the computers on all the major retailer shelve in the USA, Canada, and Europe are still Windows or Macintosh computers. You say that doesn’t matter because people are now using cell phones to collect their email. There are still several hundred million PCs being sold annually, and the number is still increasing, though. Don’t you want to know why?

  13. Robert Pogson

    I will acknowledge the time-wasting. I do get tired of the same blather repeated endlessly. It’s about the applications but if GNU/Linux has all the applications most people need, it’s about something else… etc.

  14. Ray

    “Ever use an Apple I or II? It was like DOS, or GNU/Linux without a GUI. The GUI thing did not emerge until 1984.”

    Yes, but you did say PC, as in Personal Computer, not one that has a GUI. And yes, I have used an Apple IIe, with nothing but basic on it. What I meant by “user friendly” was that you just had to plug it in, as in an appliance. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not that much of a fan of Apple, and their overpriced stuff.

  15. oldman

    “To be more effective, Pogson should implement a filtering system that dumps Oldman and other trolls into the waste bin. ”

    Mr. twitter, you prove that you dont want real conversation, only complete concurrence with you position will do.

    As I have said many times Pog could ban me and I wouldnt care one bit. But the issues that I an others raise will still exist and still remain as IMHO major roadblocks to Linux desktop adoption.

  16. twitter

    Oldman asks a good question, “Is this how you think you are going to effectively evangalize your position?” I’ve answered that before, but and I’ll answer it again.

    To be more effective, Pogson should implement a filtering system that dumps Oldman and other trolls into the waste bin. Lately things have veered deeply into personal insult and attack for Pogson. The contributions of most have never been much more than standard Microsoft BS and time waste that disrupt real conversation.

  17. Michael Rudas

    Man, the trolls come out at night.

    Facts: There would have been no Apple II without the MOS Technology/Commodore KIM-1 (or Woz, for that matter—Jobs didn’t work alone). The Commodore PET came to market a month before the Apple II. Steve Jobs sold (illegal) “blue boxes” at the Stanford dorms to raise money (so we were told by Captain Crunch/John Draper, later indirectly confirmed by Woz, who built them). The original Macintosh was DELIBERATELY crippled, originally intended as only a terminal hanging off the Lisa. Sure Steve Jobs did a lot for personal computers, but he could have done a LOT more good—and a lot less harm.

  18. Robert Pogson

    What’s their sample? Secret? So it could be a bunch of M$’s sites, for instance.

    Strange that Wikipedia’s stats and W3Schools stats are so different. Not.

  19. Ivan

    “Facts not in evidence: 1000 times.”

    It’s called exaggeration, Bob. I thought you were smart enough to not take it literal.

    “That’s pretty good considering GNU/Linux has a tiny advertising budget compared to Apple’s.”

    You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that has never heard of Linux, yet by non-wiki or w3c stats Linux is still in the realm of statistical error:

    http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-ww-monthly-201009-201109 Linux has 0.8% of the hits measured by their counter.

    http://marketshare.hitslink.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=8 Linux has 1.04% of the hits measured by their counter.

  20. oldman

    “Amen.”

    Pog, the only thing sadder than the sour grapes that you have poured on a dead mans grave is your seconding of the pure ignorance of someone who purports to be your ally, but is IMHO nothing more than an ignorant fool. You really should consider the possibility that all you do is make youself look like him, with all the negative connotations that that association brings.

    Is this how you think you are going to effectively evangalize your position?

  21. twitter

    Thanks for compiling this list of false accolades given to Jobs. False attribution robs the real inventors of credit. In this case it also creates a picture that harms actual science and industry, that a lone tyrant is responsible for all good things in computerdom. The fact of the matter is that real technical progress is made by many teams working independently of each other. False attribution is followed closely by warped rewards and society is poorly served when resources and power move from actual research to mega yachts and marketing. Corporate media is owned by people like Jobs and Gates, so the praise is nauseating narcissism.

    The Microsoft TE reaction in comments is disgusting and does more of the same damage to society. Here we see the mean spirited side of the hype machine. It is not enough for the marketing people to take the money and glory, they must mock and curse voices honest voices of dissent. Rather than address the issue at hand and show where Steve Jobs’ accomplishments are real, they turn to vicious personal attack on the messenger.

  22. Ivan

    “Apple is a niche player providing luxurious products to rich people.”

    “GNU/Linux appeals to a much wider spectrum than Apple.”

    Yet Apple’s user base is easily 1000 times that of desktop linux. Does that make Linux a niche player providing halfassed products to the poverty stricken?

  23. Contrarian

    “GNU/Linux appeals to a much wider spectrum than Apple”

    There is no evidence of that, either, #pogson, but the fact is that Windows is the broadest based IT technology ever and you should therefore be eager to get on board since you like that sort of thing, or so you say.

  24. oldman

    “GNU/Linux appeals to a much wider spectrum than Apple.”

    ROFLMAO!

  25. Contrarian

    “I like IT that has a broader base”

    Then you should really love Windows, #pogson, it has the broadest base in the history of computing by an order of magnitude. Two orders of magnitude if you compare it to Linux! :-)

  26. Contrarian

    “Yes to a lot of people Windows 95 was a cheap Apple imitation and DOS is a cheap knock off of CP/M.”

    Perhaps you losers who so deeply resent Microsoft’s success think that way, but then you are in the extreme minority, #oiaohm. By the time Windows 95 took over the Wintel space, Apple was in the dumper and a year later needed a handout from Bill Gates himself in order to stave off bankruptcy. Apple was passe’.

    As to CP/M, it was gonzo in 1980 once 16 bit processors became the norm and the IBM PC took the market lead.

  27. Robert Pogson

    I was meaning to use by today’s standards, a GUI at least.

    Apple is a niche player providing luxurious products to rich people. I like IT that has a broader base. I don’t like “walled gardens” and the tyrants who run them.

  28. ch

    “I remember the first Macs in schools. They were not powerful nor easy to use.”

    Not powerful – ok. My buddy had the original Mac with 128k, and eventually upgrading to 512k made quite a difference. But “not easy to use” ??? Please tell me which machine in 1984 was easier to use ?

    “He finally did seem to get half the concept of the small cheap computer but keeping the price high does not do the world of IT any favour at all.”

    Apple is not after the “cheaper is better” part of the market – they are in the premium segment. You might have noted that Apple is doing just fine.

  29. Mats Hagglund

    Al in all i have opinion that mobile phone has changed world perhaps more than pc-computer. Why? Because it really gave boost to economicy and finance – and especially in so called 3rd world (best example is of course Africa).

  30. Mats Hagglund

    People tend to believe that computers were found just after WWII. In fact, if you study some history you should know that antic romans had already computers in 2nd and 3rd century AD. And that propably means that chinese more likely had found it much before.

    Some of the latest studies are showing also that people of Roman Empire has better standard of living than europeans in 18th century and as good as americans and europeans had in late 19th century. This is just preface to info that neither Jobs nor Gates have founded nothing very special under the sun. Their influence in historical perspective is actually very, very poor.

  31. facts4facts

    Wow – talk about a bitter zealot.

    Fact is that the news, media and world leaders are all praising what Jobs had done. Even your Linux loving Google is paying tribute to him on their home page.

    Fact is that the entire world knows who Steve Jobs is and I’ve never even heard of you. Somehow your low-class blog became a joke at the office.

    Jobs was a somebody while you will die in obscurity like the pathetic nobody you are today.

    Good-bye and good riddance.

    PS – I doubt you have what it takes to post this comment.

  32. Robert Pogson

    I have accomplished a lot in my life. Thank you. I was at or near the top of my class everywhere I went in school and in my career. I was once listed in the top ten distance runners in Manitoba (only 9 good runners showed up for the race but at least I finished). I developed one of the first drift chambers for charged particle detection in Canada and designed parts for cyclotrons. I even wrote a control system for a cyclotron. I have had several careers and done well at most of them. What have you done, Barkley?

    When I see how much my wife spends on luxuries, I kind of wish I lived on the skids…

  33. oiaohm

    Contrarian and you love to forget history.

    MS Dos was something loses used who could not afford Apple or IBM back in the day as well. Yes remember PC Dos only shipped with IBM hardware.

    Yes to a lot of people Windows 95 was a cheap Apple imitation and DOS is a cheap knock off of CP/M.

    Being a cheap imitation is not a bad thing long term. Means you end up with more market share if you live.

    The computer world is based on knock off products get use to it.

  34. Contrarian

    “That makes Apple the copier”

    You foget that no one cares, #pogson. The reality is what people believe and they believe that the smart phone was and continues to be the iPhone. Everything else is a cheap imitation. iPhone beat the BlackBerry in that department. Android is just something cheap for the losers to have. That is what people believe.

    Just like they believe that a real computer has Windows and a Mac is different and much more chic. Huff and puff all you want, but you will never blow the Microsoft house down. It’s made of brick.

  35. Barkley

    I was ticked off that individuals could be so ignorant but also that the improbable combination of that and the entire production team would route those comments to my TV.

    You wreak of bitter old man who failed in life and is living in the skids – which you are.

    Fail is your middle name.

  36. Ray

    About the PC, Apple made a ready-to-use one back in 1977. And he brought designs to the computer and made them user friendly.

  37. Robert Pogson

    It’s not. Apple says it’s not. They say they have the best tech in the world and know how to do everything the best way. Surely they would not do anything the same way that other, mere mortals, would. It’s a GUI, for pity’s sake. Apple has no claim to it.

    Apple did not invent the smart phone, “The first smartphone was the IBM Simon; it was designed in 1992 and shown as a concept product[5]“. see WIkipedia. That makes Apple the copier. Clearly the thing was black, shiny and did more than talk/listen. Then Nokia got in on the act. Then Sony. Apple copied them all with iPhone around 2007, 15 years after IBM.

    Google purchased Android in 2005 and worked on if for years before Apple released iPhone. It’s not a copy of iOS which was released in 2007.

    Don’t believe the hype. Apple is about marketing, not innovation.

  38. oldman

    “Have you seen the source code, oldman? I thought not. Google wrote Android with help from Linux and others. Apple had little to do with it.”

    Who gives a crap if the code is different Pog, the interface and presentation to the user is a clone of iOS pure and simple. That was my point.

  39. Robert Pogson

    They are phones that function much like a general-purpose computer. Beyond that, there’s little similarity. Size, shape, weight, logo, model name, price, and cpu are all differentiating features. How are these copies of anything but themselves?

    What triggered me to write this post was CBC news interviewing people on the street and they actually found people who would utter the words, “inspire inventors” and “invented the PC”. I was ticked off that individuals could be so ignorant but also that the improbable combination of that and the entire production team would route those comments to my TV.

  40. Contrarian

    “No penalty at all for calling a troll a troll.”

    You must be a Michelle Bachman fan, #pogson, thinking the cure for having put one foot in your mouth is to insert the remaining one! William Shockley would be famous today for inventing the P-N junction and precursor to the transistor and all that has derived from it, had he been silent in regard to his opinion regarding another race’s hereditary mental capacity.

  41. Contrarian

    Well count me in on #oldman’s side, #pogson. On the one hand, you can take a hairsplitting point of view that the code is a lot different, although you have not seen the iOS code or the Android code either, and you would be technically correct. But #oldman used thhe term “perceived” and that opens the door for regular people to vote on what they think they see, and that is the fact that a Droid phone is accepted in the market because it looks identical to an iPhone.

    From a product management point of view, the Android phones are copycats (if you want to be picky about “clone”) of the iPhone and that’s the truth.

  42. Robert Pogson

    As far as I know, oldman is the only one on the planet who would suggest Android/Linux is a clone of iOS. Have you seen the source code, oldman? I thought not. Google wrote Android with help from Linux and others. Apple had little to do with it.

  43. oldman

    None of this changes the reality of job’s contributions. If anything the reality that android is perceived as nothing more than a clone of iOS only enhances jobs legacy.

  44. Robert Pogson

    No penalty at all for calling a troll a troll. Tablet form factor has been around for thousands of years. No one in recent history invented it. That’s where Star Trek and all those ’60s sci-fi things got it from. Shiny and black is also not new. The aspect ratio of the Galaxy tab was different but Apple doctored images to make it look as though that was “slavishly copied”. How petty. How ignorant. How rude.

  45. Robert Pogson

    The digital age began long before Jobs was born and will continue long after his death. I remember the first Macs in schools. They were not powerful nor easy to use. He didn’t start to get things right in IT until he returned to Apple with a much better plan for software. The gadgets, too, were interesting but his policies needlessly limited what they could do. The rise of Android/Linux is proof of that. If iOS was the way to go Android/Linux would not have overtaken iOS. He finally did seem to get half the concept of the small cheap computer but keeping the price high does not do the world of IT any favour at all. Within a few years, iOS will be the Symbian of the world of smart thingies unless Apple diversifies the product line. More choices will be made in the Android/Linux world simply because there are more choices available.

  46. Contrarian

    “greatest patent trolls in the world.”

    15 yards for piling on, #MatsHagglund! Or a red card if you’re European.

  47. Contrarian

    I may have to give up on Contrarian! I am horriby outgunned here. :-)

  48. oldman

    “Perceptions, not reality.”

    Irrelevant. Steve Jobs will be remembered for his contributions to the life of the digital age. All of the issues you bring up are beside the point.

    This IMHO is an unfortunate post. All you succeed in doing is sounding like some graceless crabby old man.

  49. Robert Pogson

    Yep. That’s probably the biggest negative in his legacy. There was no need to do that and it gained nothing for Apple. It may have even given the competition free advertising. If Samsung succeeds in getting the iThingies banned for wireless issues the whole thing goes off the rails. Samsung is limited to FRAND but they can delay Apple’s bringing stuff to market for months. I have never seen a successful business that tried to offend the majority of potential customers… They were riding a wave of adoption. All they had to do was live and let live and they would have made tons of money and friends. As it is, I see only negative results for all of IT and even for Apple.

  50. Robert Pogson

    Perceptions, not reality. Steve Jobs actually delayed the development of personal computers by dithering on design and production. His real genius was not going under in the process. He was a good salesman apparently.

  51. Mats Hagglund

    I will always remember Steve Jobs as one of the greatest patent trolls in the world.

  52. oldman

    An unfortunate post, Pog. Whether you like it or not Steve Jobs will be seen as a major contributor to computing, while you are not.

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