As a reminder, Steve Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson was interviewed for 60 minutes. That interview will air tonight (Sunday, Oct 23rd) at 7pm Eastern/Pacific. Also included are interview tapes in which Jobs tells his own story.
Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs is due to launch officially on Monday, and is already available in some parts of the world on iBooks.
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Don't think so, but you could use a proxy app like TunnelBear (http://www.tunnelbear.com/) and watch it on the website.
How the Mac+ Saved Me From Getting Eaten By Sharks
Today marks one week since Steve Jobs died. I’ve had a chance to reflect back on what this man meant to our country and to me. My Apple story…
It was August, 1986, and I had just resigned from my job as a precious metals broker and decided to start my own company. I needed to communicate with my potential customers, so I had to have a way to produce and mail hundreds of letters every week. I wanted to personalize each of them—and I didn’t have a clue as to how I would do that.
As a young man, just one year younger than Jobs himself, I grew up on an IBM Selectric typewriter, so that was the only thing I knew that could produce letters. I knew the newer electric typewriters had memory, so you could compose your work “on screen” making any corrections needed before committing to paper. This sounded like it was just what I needed, so off I went in search of the new electric typewriter.
I quickly realized that in late 1986, the electric typewriter, with memory or not, was destined for extinction. In its place was a new type of machine, one I was completely ignorant of––the computer. Everywhere I went I was told the same thing, “Writing, mail merge, printing,,, you need a computer.” And each time, I would refuse, stating that I didn’t know anything about computers and didn’t particularly want to know anything about them. In fact, they scared me. I would be happy if I were to get through life without ever knowing anything about them.
That idea quickly went out the window. It soon became clear that I needed a computer. But what kind, how to set it up, how to use it,,, the questions seemed to never end. I needed advice. So I called a good friend, and he suggested I call another friend of his, a middle manager at AT&T. If anybody knew the answers to my questions, it would be this guy.
Delighted that I could talk to such a knowledgeable expert in the field, I immediately placed a call. Mr. AT&T wasn’t in, so I left a message. Then I grabbed my yellow pages and found some local computers stores.
I knew enough about computers to know that there were two basic players in the business, Apple and the IBM compatibles, or PC’s as they were called. And any one of a number of companies provided these PC’s.
I quickly located two computer stores, one Apple and one PC, right across the street from each other. So it was early one afternoon in late August, 1986, that I jumped in my car and drove first to the local Apple store to learn about computers. The Radio Shack across the street was to be my second stop. I never made it.
I walked into the Apple store and was greeted by a fellow who asked me what I was interested in. I told him I had no idea, but I wanted to compose, personalize, and print hundreds of letters every week. He deftly said, “No problem. Let me show you the Mac Plus computer. It’s brand new and I think it will do just what you need it to do.”
He took to the back wall where 3 or 4 rectangular boxes with small TV screens flashed logos of an apple and small smiley faces. He explained things like word processors, data bases, memory, and hard drives. He explained what a mouse was and how to open documents. Later he explained how to create a new document by clicking on a “pull down window” and selecting the size, font, and font size to be used (I didn’t even know what “font” meant until he explained it). Finally, he explained how to merge my database with my letter composition with another pull down window, and how to print with another pull down window click.
Man, I was impressed! Exactly what I needed to do, and simple enough even I could do it. Frankly, even though a better computer might exist across the street, I had found exactly what I needed. I was sold. I wrote out a check and loaded the Macintosh Plus (Mac Plus), printer, and external hard drive into my car. Delighted that my fear of computers had been totally unfounded, I carried my new gear up to my home office and noticed a message on my answering machine.
It was the AT&T expert I had left a message with earlier in the day. I was eager to call him back and tell him about my new purchase.
“Take it back,” was the first thing he said after I told him about my purchase. “The whole world will belong to IBM compatibles,” he said. I hadn’t yet opened the boxes so I could take them back. He told me the PC’s could do everything the Mac Plus could do, and that Apple would probably be out of business soon anyway. He convinced me. I loaded up the boxes and drove them back to the Apple store. The salesman was understanding but disappointed. I told him that I needed a PC and was going to look at the new TRS-80 across the street at the Radio Shack. He had to know I’d be back…
Ever look back on an experience and realize then how close you came to disaster? Almost eaten by sharks? That late August day was one of those, but I didn’t know it as I opened the door to the Radio Shack.
There was “Bob.” I told Bob the same story I told the Apple sales guy earlier in the day. Same reaction. “No problem. I’ve got just the thing. A brand new TRS-80.”
It was big. This thing was twice the size of the Mac Plus, and it wasn’t very friendly. No smiley faces here. But not to worry I thought as I sat down under Bob’s tutelage. Open a new document? No problem. Simply type “control/O/backslash/backslash/shift/D,” or some such sequence. I was dumbfounded. I said, “Bob, no, I just want to open a new document.” “That’s how you do it,” he said. I couldn’t believe it. Did this guy really know computers I wondered?
It continued. More archaic keyboard commands for anything you wanted to do. Change the size of your document. Change font or font size. Open the database. What were these people thinking? Who in the world could or would learn this stuff just to type a letter?
The end came nearly an hour later, when I asked Bob how to merge my names in the database to my new letter. He asked to sit at the computer to show me. It was like trying to fly an airliner. I didn’t have a clue. More importantly, I didn’t think I’d ever have a clue.
I thanked Bob and left. I had seen the future. It wasn’t here. I was going to go back across the street and get it.
It was just before closing time when I re-loaded the Mac Plus in to my car for the second time that day. I’ve used dozens of Macs since that day, and I’m composing this letter on a fabulous 27” iMac (just wish it had a matte screen). I am “all things Apple” because Apple took a scary concept and made a machine that was friendly and easy for millions of people to use.
To this day I wonder if all those people using PC’s ever knew what Mac users were doing while they were living in the computer “stone age.”
I still feel sad that he's gone and what other wonderful things he could have make.