This has been a remarkable week, providing moments to reflect over the past 35 years for technology. When you have lived through the times, it is not quite history but more about points in transformation. It is remarkable how the personal computer has changed our lives — how we interact, live with technology, integrate into the day-to day.
I remember disbelief and delight when I saw the first Apple Mac, writing my first Excel spreadsheet on the Mac, setting up my first network with Apple Chooser, all small feats by today’s standards, evolutionary at the time.
There has been quite a bit written about Mr. Jobs this week. Along with the storm of outreach, I want to say thank you to Mr. Jobs for his revolutionary contributions — changing how we interact and consumer technology and what we have learned.
Going back to the not-so-distant past, conventional thinking for Apple Computer and Apple products was not exactly what it is today. Back in 1999, the outlook for Apple Computer was not so certain — once popular Mac publications were closing and consolidating; friends and family were jumping ship and trying their first Windows based machines; just two years earlier, rival Microsoft had invested $150M, bolstering Apple’s cash reserves; application providers were analyzing Apple’s declining market share numbers, unable to justify support for the Apple platform…all of this reflected in the stock price’s low point at $10 per share.
Conventional thinking at the time was that Apple was an anachronism. It’s core strength was tight coupling of software and hardware design. While important in the early days of the personal computer, software had evolved and over-taken these advantages. Simply put, Windows 95 was good enough; with Moore’s law and lowering costs for hardware, there was not enough room for innovation from design… but then came the iMac, iPod, Macbook Air, iPad, showing a burst of new innovation, bringing together sparks of progress from smaller, lighter, cheaper hardware with new usability paradigms from software.
In 1997, Steve Jobs became Apple’s CEO again; today we applaud Mr. Job’s role as CEO taking Apple Computer from $10 to $400 a share, largely based upon his vision for the company. Again, back in 1997, the outlook for Apple Computer was not so certain. Criticisms were launched against Mr. Jobs and his ability to run a business; concern flaired that Apple would become a design shop with little market relevance. One of the harshest criticisms launched suggested that the inmates had overtaken the asylum. But then again, Apple share price $10 to $400, suggesting that vision, tenacity and flawless execution (alright a few missteps along the way as well) trumps bean counting anyday.