Having read the news articles about the passing of Steve Jobs, I thought I’d share how he changed my world.
After graduating from university, I joined NCR (formally known as National Cash Register) as a graduate trainee, and spent the next nine months in training – training that included formal modules on how to sell against IBM. At the time, IBM was the dominant computer manufacturer with the elite sales force – so we were constantly reminded.
When the opportunity to move from selling retail point of sale terminals (read computerised cash registers) into the fledgling Personal Computer industry, I joined a Japanese trading company that was launching the Hitachi Peach. This was one of three fruits being marketed at the time – the other two were the Apricot and Apple. These were the days when PC stood for Personal Computer, not Political Correctness! As any farmer will tell you – if you don’t tend to your crops you will lose them. The Peach and the Apricot certainly did not last – but the Apple story continues to be written.
I came of age in the PC industry when I joined IBM as the Personal Computer Product Manager. Being with the largest PC manufacturer in the world gave you a sense of security, and a lot of arrogance. I knew about Apple – I sold against them at every opportunity. After all, the IBM PC, its siblings the XT and AT, and next generation PS/ 2 range, had THE superior keyboard for professional typists – based on the Selectric typewriter. My computers were built on an “open standard” – there were literally hundreds of “IBM Clones” out there – Apple had no clones.
People wanted to copy me. And the one that got the biggest rise out of the Apple sales guys – my mouse had two buttons.
I relay this for a reason.
IBM no longer make PCs. Compaq (our biggest competitor at the time) is now part of HP.
Steve Jobs founded NeXT computers- that was eventually rolled into Pixar (formally Lucasfilms). Pixar makes animated films for Disney – and eventually became part of The Walt Disney Company.
Throughout my career, I have had access to a wide range of technology to evaluate and use. However, the computers and phones I purchase and use at home are Apple. (The last remnants of IBM/Windows based computing is on a virtual section of my Macs!)
Steve Jobs showed me that complex things can be simple. User experience is key. Technology plays a major role in our lives – whether we admit it or not. If technology is too hard to use – we won’t use it. My 2 year old granddaughter can turn on an iPhone, select the pictures she wants to watch, and play games. I dare say my parents might be challenged to keep up with her! Don’t be fooled. The simple technology is complex – it just looks simple. And as users, that’s what we should care about.
Steve Jobs made a difference. As an entrepreneur, as in inventor, as a mentor. His vision changed the way we communicate, the way we work, the way we listen to and purchase music, and so much more.
Thank you Steve Jobs.