SJVN wrote, while criticizing RMS’s take on the departure of Steve Jobs, “we also know that Jobs was also essential to our modern computing world. Jobs was our generationâ€™s Disney, its Edison.”
That is nonsense. At the time M$ and Apple started, there was a swarm of small entities, seeds in the crevices of IT, just waiting to fill the space available. IBM was huge but could not supply the need for IT at an affordable price. I remember University of Manitoba’s System 360, 370 and then Amdahl machines. They filled rooms. They computed but unless you were fabulously wealthy or staff or student at a university, they were out of reach.
Along came the microprocessor, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a device whose time had come. Before that one needed a rack full of transistors and crude integrated circuits to make a minicomputer (and lots of time and money populating them). Moore’s Law and not some corporation was the essential element to bring computing to the masses. Apple was just one of the flies attracted to the honey. The world was awash in software. It just had to be ported to the microprocessor and stuff happened. Apple did it. M$ did it. SUN did it. DEC did it. ARM did it. The fact that some grew, some died and some stagnated is just the chemistry of the markets and opportunities. Nothing special happened at Apple except that Apple managed to keep investors interested and cash flowing long enough while they figured it out.
I can argue that Apple thrived in spite of Steve Jobs learning to be a business man on the job. In fact, Apple did not really thrive until Steve Jobs went out into the business world and learned a lot. He brought that back and made things happen.
So, I don’t agree with RMS on all things and I don’t agree with SJVN on all things but in this case, I side with RMS. The evil Apple has done with Steve Jobs at the helm matters. For a time school children and teachers were widely exposed to Apple’s stuff. That made IT unaffordable for many schools. That negated the advantages of Moore’s Law for kids. Schools in which I taught took a decade to lose the Apple habit. Unfortunately, they acquired the M$ habit which was worse but some found GNU/Linux and it thrives in education.
Fortunately for the world software freedom is a timeless idea and monopoly in IT eventually erodes just as mountains and continents do. Both M$ and Apple are diversifying because monopoly is not sustainable and the poor are finally having access to IT thanks to Moore’s Law and Free Software, not monopoly.
Intel did its best to be part of the Wintel monopoly but they at least worked to earn their money, producing a real product not just licences. Intel has been open to Free Software to a great extent so I give them a bit of a free ride but I sure am glad ARM hung in there all these years and has finally wiggled out from under the monopolists’ tent.
I, too, am glad Steve Jobs is gone. The world could be a better place without his manipulation. We shall see whether his replacement has a better moral compass.
UPDATE Joe Brockmeier also attacks RMS:“It’s no secret that RMS and Steve Jobs held firmly opposed views when it comes to software freedom. I didn’t expect Stallman to hold a vigil at an Apple store for Jobs, or even to say much of anything at all. But his ill-considered response does nothing for the cause of free software, and actually does a lot of damage.”
I think that’s nonsense. RMS does choose his words very carefully and RMS raises good points that popularity or commercial success can harm society by taking away people’s freedom to use software and hardware. That is what software freedom is all about and Joe Brockmeier does not seem to get it. In the battle between freedom and tyranny it does no good to ever let up the pressure on the tyrant. Any truce at all is invariable used to expand tyranny. That’s a step backwards. The tyrants never seem to miss an opportunity to attack the credibility of FLOSS. Joe Brockmeier never seems to miss an opportunity to criticize FLOSS. Going after a founding father is par for the course.