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david927 1561 days ago | link | parent

The Apple II had little in terms of "polish". Back then it was just about the technology, and the Apple II had it in spades. The Mac was more Jobs than Woz, but as I mentioned, the Mac was almost stolen outright from Xerox PARC.

visionary leaders

Can you tell me what vision Jobs added to the Apple II?



ynniv 1561 days ago | link

Woz' retelling in Triumph of the Nerds (pbs.org/nerds) was that he had little-to-no self-confidence while working on the Apple I. The Apple I itself was a wooden box full of parts, barely suitable for a hobbyist, used to play simple games. The Apple II had a proper stylish case (with fancy logo), documentation, advertising, and a vision of a platform for personal computing to compete with the mainframe. It was a salable product, and extremely successful.

Mac was almost stolen outright from Xerox PARC

Also incorrect. The Xerox Star was an expensive prototype used for research. Many ideas were taken from the Star, but while the first Macintosh looks a lot like a modern computer, the Star was quite different, even having windows that couldn't overlap and other things we would now consider silly.

But, Jobs didn't create the Macintosh - he just hired the engineers who worked on the Star to join his great engineering team to polish and productize it. His contribution has always been to set the bar and only allow things that are great into the final product. This is possibly the most important thing an executive can do, but rarely properly executed.

Cringely did a good job with Triumph of the Nerds (based on his book "Accidental Empires") - if you haven't seen it, I'm pretty sure that you can find it on YouTube.

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david927 1561 days ago | link

Mac was almost stolen outright from Xerox PARC Also incorrect. The Xerox Star was an expensive prototype used for research.

Well, Adele Goldberg, head of the Star, and who held the meeting with Jobs, is still around and would tend to disagree. She fumed at the idea of sharing the GUI and had to be strong-armed into giving away the technology.

You might want to read "Dealers of Lightning" which details a lot of this. It's a great read.

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ynniv 1560 days ago | link

Adele Goldberg, who held the meeting with Jobs is still around and would tend to disagree.

Adele is right that the Star pioneered graphical computing. I a somewhat amazed at how little credit people today give to Xerox PARC team. But to say that it was stolen is misleading. The Mac was not a clone of the Star but a derivative system with usability improvements and resource compromises to allow it to run on consumer hardware. (Compare this to Windows, which was a half-hearted implementation of the Mac, compromised to run on common consumer hardware.)

If Xerox had actually productized the Star, it would have sat on the desks of publishers and C-level executives, and probably have been mostly forgotten. Jobs certainly stole Adele's thunder, but I think that he did the right thing.

You might want to read "Dealers of Lightning" which details a lot of this. It's a great read.

I'll check it out. Much of this was also covered in Triumph of the Nerds.

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david927 1561 days ago | link

Woz says that because he's a sweet guy. There's no right or wrong answer here, but I can tell you I was there and no one cared what color the case was. The Apple II was a genius product for reasons that had NOTHING to do with: the case, the logo and the advertising. I'm sorry. Woz may be nice about it but historians will remember Steve Jobs as "the guy standing next to Woz in the photos."

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ynniv 1560 days ago | link

The Apple II was a genius product for reasons that had NOTHING to do with: the case, the logo and the advertising.

Well, yes... but there are many things that are genius that I have never heard of. And plenty that I know of that will never be well known.

no one cared what color the case was

Well, Jobs did. As a programmer with some depth, I know how little engineers care about product development and marketing. Great things sell themselves, right? I used to agree, but after seeing the waste of unwanted products and the tragedy of unused pearls, I can no longer believe the Field of Dreams mantra (If you build it, they will come). The guts of the Apple II didn't sell themselves, and the color of the case does matter to buyers. Certainly it was a feat of engineering that would have been impossible without Woz. I also think that it would have been a forgotten player without Jobs.

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