Yesterday, I watched your biography on A&E TV. Very impressive and
depressing at the same time. Impressive because of your accomplishments.
Inventing the PC and promoting concerts that's amazing. Depressing to
see that you were kind of left out and used by Steve Jobs (at least that
was my impression after watching a movie and your biography) and to think
that was it.
I believe there is more to come. Invention wise. You changed the world
like not many others, so whats next. My suggestion is to make apple computer
more interesting for PC user. Like making it possible to use PC software?
(There is more available and it's cheaper) What about using the Mac system
usable on a PC for testing purposes.
Here is the catch:I would like you to check out our [motorcycle] web site
and let me know what you think about it.
I know that you get tons of e mails and you are busy like everyone else
but I would appreciate your comments or an advice.
No time for advice. I'm getting overrun with this stuff. Sorry.
It's hard to explain the concept of my being overrun by Steve Jobs. I'd
say that I did design some incredible machines that may have been a needed
step to kicking off this new market, as Mike Markkula said in the biography.
But someone like Steve Jobs was needed to turn that product into a corporate
success and to change the world and get them accepting it. So we both
had important roles. My role was much more short lived but I put everything
into it and could have done no better. I would never have wanted the attention
and responsibility for more than my own work, which is what Steve Jobs
has. I had certain strong personal ethics that would have rendered me
a poor businessman, regardless of how much training I could have come
Your web site is quite exciting. If I were younger and freer I'd want
to join up. I did commute for years on my motorcycle to Apple, and the
feeling of a bike is the most fun thing ever in my life. It was much more
fun than flying planes. It was like skiing to work every day, riding in
the open air. I never wore strongly protective clothing but I was cautious
and never went down while riding once I got my license. I always hoped
that I'd give up riding before crashing and after a decade I did just
that, although I always take the motorcycle test to keep my license valid.
I couldn't love a machine as much as the passion that was put into
building it. I bet you had more fun building that middle finger than you
ever did making calculators. Or at least I would like to think you did.
That is all I wanted to communicate to you. from one designer to another,
or from one human being to another. Passion is a good thing.
You're right. Steve Jobs and Allen Baum and myself made it. The graduation
was Steve Jobs' and it was at our high school. We spent 4 nights in a
row working out a scheme that wound up with two ramps guiding 2 skates
over the edge of a 2-story building right where half of the graduates
exited after graduating. The skates pulled the sheet over. Tennis shoes
and other things kept the sheet from blowing away. The skates were weighted
down. Everything, including the tennis shoes, was tied together so that
it couldn't hit anyone on the head below. 40 lb. Fishing line held the
skates at the top of the 2 ramps and ran down the side of the building.
The next morning the sign was down. Steve and I determined that the line
had been cut at about waist height. It hadn't torn. The next year, at
Berkeley, I ran into one of the seniors working on another senior prank
the last night that we got our sign working. He said that Steve Jobs had
told them what we were doing up on the roof and had even shown them where
the fishing line was. So they cut it themselves for fun. Too bad, it would
have been funny.
We tried another very ambitious graduation prank there the next year but
that's another story.
When you die, I think that your ration of laughs to frowns is the most
important thing to judge.
Sorry to add to the likely incredible spate of email you are likely
getting after the Biography special, but I just really didin't think I
could NOT drop you a line, even if it is getting awfully late here. I
just thought I should take the opportunity to thank you, and to ask your
advice. You can ignore the rest of the message from here on if you want
to, and I will not be (too) :hurt, since its not your job to be an advice
First of all, thanks for the Apple II and all its progeny. Its had a major
impact on my life. In 1978, I was eight years old when my dad introduced
me to the first Apple II that the University of Saskatchewan ever bought.
He was (and is) a prof in Educational Technology at the U of S, so I always
got to play with the newest and coolest technologies when I was young.
I've been an Apple person ever since (I'm writing this from my G4 400
at home). I'm a user support person at the U of S now, supporting Mac
users in the Health Sciences at our university. So, I make a comfortable
living off those ideas you had so long ago (in computer years, of course).
But, you know (and you prabably do, from what they said about you in the
Biography special), its more than that, more than just a way to make a
living. Its (to me at least) a philosophy, a dream almost. Apple was always
the company that helped people do things, to solve problems and to do
it in a way that was friendly and understandable and different from the
conventional. I have always tried to keep to that philosophy in my work
life, and I think I have been relatively successful over the past 12 years.
That dream is threatened for me now, as it has been for some time. The
writing is on the wall at my institution as far as I can tell. Macs are
on the way out at the U of S, to be replaced in due time by (what else,)
a Microsoft-dominated solution. Some small, rational part of my brain
tells me that this is no big deal, they are only computers, I have skills
that are applicable no matter what computer platform or group of people
I am working with. But there is another part of me, deeply ingrained,
that hates to see the dream die at my institution. I hate to see people
say "Oh, we are getting rid of our Macs because everybody else has PCs,
and we need to be compatible. It's too much work to keep the Macs." I
hate to see the machines that I have always associated with "nice guys"
(like yourself) be replaced by machines powered by a company that seems
to win by forcing everyone to conform to its standards and crushing anyone
that does not conform. The two companies were started by people with dreams,
but from my point of view they are vastly different dreams.
My question for you (oh wise one :>) is, since you are the original dreamer
who started us all down this path, what should I do? Should I listen to
that rational part of my brain? If I had already, I would not be writing
this email. Should I give up the fight? That is essentially what it has
become, a fight for survival of the Macintosh, both in my local situation
and on a global scale. It isn't supposed to be a fight, I suspect you
are thinking, and you never intended for it to be [and its not really
your responsibility, and why the heck do people email you and ask you
these kind of questions anyway? :>]. But I am really kinda stumped here,
and I am hoping you have maybe faced this type of question before in your
And maybe you could do me a really big favor. If you still have any contact
with the other Steve, and let him know that there are people out here
in this kind of situation (more than one in this town at least). Ask him
what he is going to do for all the people like me that have subscribed
to what is essentially (as I see it) your dream (Besides telling us all
that we need serious psychiatric help :>. That's that little rational
part of my brain butting in again!). He needs to be very careful, because
the next year or so is going to make or break Apple(even if people have
been saying that from 1982 on, this time it may really be true), and there
is only so long that us "Mac Faithful" can remain that way (By the way,
moving to fee for incident service on the Apple help line may make financial
good sense, but it is suicide for Apple's rapport with its users, particularly
when in many cases when people like me call the support personnel at Apple
learn new things as well).
If you have read this far, thanks for listening, and I am really glad
to know that a nice guy can once in a while finish first. Maybe there's
hope for me yet! :>
I understand your anxiety and frustrations and sadness because I live
them every day of my life. I have the same fears as you.
There was a time, perhaps between 1984 and 1993, when the Macintosh alone
stood for a new humanistic world of computers. The Macintosh dreams included
concepts like software that was so clear that you could intuitively figure
out what to do. If you made mistakes, the computer gently told you what
you'd done and guessed what you wanted to do and told you how to do it
or offered to do it for you. Error messages were understandable and complete.
Everything was plug and play and nothing went wrong. The GUI world needs
The PC world in this time frame lived with less human concepts of computing
and claimed that their way was correct and better for serious work. The
Macintosh approaches for normal people (humans) made it too weak a machine
for real work. We Macintosh users knew how much baloney this was and we
held onto our good and correct dreams for humanity.
Now all computers have a GUI. But they all fail in the areas of what I
call the Macintosh dreams. Software is crap wherever you look. Layouts
aren't standard enough to follow. Messages are incomprehensible. Dialogs
and menus lead you to wrong choices and unintended errors. Software crashes
too much. It loses data. Files get corrupted. Checkboxes are used when
radio buttons are called for. Operations become deactivated at particular
times for no reason, other than that you might have hit some key in a
particular hundredth of a second.
Both Microsoft and Apple are monopolies. Mostly, dedicated Macintosh users
buy Macintoshes and they won't likely buy a PC. The number of Macintoshes
sold does not depend on how much quality is in the software. The dreams
are nearly dead. With no incentive to create intuitive and modeless software,
like Control Panels for instance, that actually work, why should any company
try to make them better for humans to use? The emphasis is always on some
new product and the broken and non-working crap that's around just sits
forever. I'm amazed at how many times I see software that takes steps
backwards from great things that were done more correctly and humanly
Technology and the money of big corporations has become much more important
than human beings. That was not the original intent of personal computers.
They were to put more power in the individual's hand. As we store our
data and apps on the internet, our computing world becomes a big corporate
entity that makes individuals less and less important in the process.
The era of truly personal computers is fading in many ways. The computer
platform we use is becoming less and less important. This may be a boon
to Apple, but there are many forces working against it, all for the sake
of money. Apple has to be very different than all the others in terms
of what it's products symbolize to buyers. Right now, it's the "think
different" campaign. Some of us will make sacrifices to be included in
A lot has been lost. Apple is not the only example.