Friday, August 26, 2011

Steve Jobs is an artist

Homebrew Computer Club meeting
I only met Steve Jobs once -- at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting in 1976. Homebrew meetings were held in a stadium style auditorium at the Stanford University linear accelerator lab, and they featured a "random access" time, in which people in the audience stood up and made announcements or asked for help with a problem they were working on.

Steve Wozniak stood up and offered free copies of the schematic for the computer he and his friend had built.

After the random access session, attendees talked with each other and with vendors standing at tables in the back of the auditorium. Jobs was behind a table with a wire wrapped version of the Apple I motherboard, and we talked about the trade-offs in implementing functions in software or hardware.

Wozniak, Jobs and an Apple I
At the time, I was editor of Interface Age, a short-lived magazine with a national circulation, so I asked Jobs if he would write us an article about his ideas on design and his computer. He told me he would not be willing to write an article unless I would devote the entire issue to Apple.

I was pissed by the kid's arrogance, and walked away.

Inside the Apple I
But he was right to be arrogant. He is an artist who works on very large canvases.

Jobs does not create paintings or songs, he creates products and industries. Painters work with paint and brushes, musicians with instruments. Jobs works with organizations and capital. His artistic works include Apple Computer, Apple, Next, Pixar, Apple stores and iTunes and he's sculpted the personal computer, mobile music and phone, movie, TV and music industries. Now he is dabbling in architecture with Apple's proposed office complex.

Check this column by David Pogue for more on the industries and products Jobs imagined and then created.

Apple I