Bringing tablet computing, multi-touch, voice control, quality screens (IPS etc), video-calling on phones, small utility software, ubiquitous (real) web access, to mainstream (before someone attacks: yes, all these existed for a long time, but only became common place after Apple pushed them)? Pushing hardware design way past what anyone else was doing in the past half dozen years? Cornering the music industry with a digital distribution model that works?
I can't even begin to enumerate the things you see everyday that are influenced by Apple, besides their own products.
Well, just 20 minutes ago I was using my "TV" and it's nice unix shell to develop a cross-platform multiplayer game. And you could say it's usability and experience over configuration, not eye-candy (remember Aero Glass? KDE Plasma?), althought nice-looking interfaces can help with both.
No, he didn't do all this himself, but he was captaining the ship. Has Sergey Brin changed the way people use the internet?
You could just as easily alta-vista, or yahoo that because people used those search engines originally, and they existed way before Google did.
Google however turned a better product and has therefore captured the lion's share of the market. But they Google search engine is pretty much a copy in functionality of previous ones that came before.
Of course Google have brought other things to the internet (maps comes to mind), but the search engine didn't change how people used the internet - we were searching long before Google.
The same exact accusations could be (and have been) leveled at Apple. The fact of the matter is that Apple is a very, very good marketing company; as for revolutionary technology and being innovators, not so much.
Apple's innovations are myriad and subtle, particularly on the software side. Almost all of these things have been copied by the various Linux environments:
- Sub-second reconnection to wifi when resuming from sleep, using past remembered networks and IPs
- Bonjour zero-configuration service discovery for printers, network speakers, etc.
- Exposé window management and the GPU-accelerated desktop in general, not to mention just-in-time-compiled GPU accelerated image and video manipulation with CoreImage / CoreVideo.
- Spotlight indexed desktop search that's actually usable for real world filetypes
- Quicklook instant previews, not to mention native PDF support not involving Adobe Reader
- A mail program that autoconfigures based on just the email address, just by trying the obvious options
Add in the fact that Apple is still the only company to have multi-touch work properly on a desktop, that their hardware has been dominating geek conferences for years because of its travel-friendlyness, and there is plenty of innovation to go around.
While I started this comment thread, I do think Apple has done a lot of good putting quality back into hardware in many regards. It really pains me that I'm going to have them to thank for getting us out of the low PPI dark ages, but it is almost exclusively due to their market pressure for high pixel displays that will finally end the last decade of pixelated nonsense.
Opening up a market is a contribution (singular) to the community, but this is a thin line to call "tremendous contributor". Wallmart was one of the major players in pushing USB drives and 3g modems to the public. Does this mean that Wallmart is a tremendous contributor to USB?
In what way has multi-touch been pushed way past what anyone has done in the past? (say, compared to Sears et al work from 1990?) Actually, any of the technologies on that list, in what way were they pushed way past what anyone else was doing in the past? Cornering the music industry (legally) was an achievement indeed, but a tremendous contribution? My thought goes back to Wallmart and any product that they was first to successfully sell.
I didn't downvote because I disagreed (or agreed), but because your question seemed very accusatory and asked in bad faith, so it does not contribute to the discussion. A reworded question that made it clear you were honestly inquiring still might not get answered, but I wouldn't downvote.
Its useful to reiterate the discussion in case new facts or concept can be brought forth. mostly, I ask the question to confirm (or disprove) my own opinion. If a person states disproven facts, one should always allow the person the back his statements up.
It's even worse than that, as Woz effectively left Apple after his plane crash in 1981. He continued to officially be an employee, but didn't contribute a whole lot after that point. Quitting in 1987 was more of a formality than anything.
The last Apple computer Woz had a direct hand in designing was either the Apple II or the II+ (I can't quite figure out which), over three decades ago. Woz was a genius when it came to minimal and effective designs and it's certain that he played a key role in getting Apple off the ground, but he has had no real impact on the company or anything the company does for nearly as long as I've been alive.
Woz helped build Apple into a successful company, but the scale isn't even remotely the same. The Apple that Jobs subsequently built decades later now sells more hardware in a month (or so) than Woz's Apple sold during his entire tenure.
Well known inventors aren't well known because of their great inventions. They're well known because there's a corporate PR department promoting the legend. Ever heard of Thomas Edison? He founded a company named General Electric. Heard of Alexander Graham Bell? AT&T.
The reason fewer people have heard of Wozniak is because he left the company 25 years ago. He doesn't get the same PR treatment from the Apple marketing fund.
Now, here are some bonus questions: You all know who invented the transistor at Bell Labs, but who invented the LASER? How about the microwave oven? FM radio?
Actually, I don't know why few people know who invented the microwave oven, since the inventor was a big-wig at Raytheon. I guess Raytheon doesn't have much of a PR department.