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Steve Jobs – The Early Years
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Steve Jobs – The Early Years

Today, October 6, 2011, I just watched a number of videos from CNN where they show Steve Jobs doing his amazing product introductions.

What a show man!

You can hear the audience laughing in the background, but you can also sense the anticipation, the impatience, waiting to see what electronic marvel Steve Jobs was going to unveil that day.

The product is finally shown by the master showman who does an amazing demo of the capabilities, ease of use, unheard of features of the new product his was introducing to the world.

The Apple computer brand has become such an incredible magnet, that many dyed in the wool PC users are swearing that they are going back to Apple computers.

I just heard this a few days ago in a discussion in a forum, where several people who were long-time PC users announced that they couldn’t wait any longer to go back to Apple products. It’s totally unreal!

But even though I was awed by the CNN videos showing Steve Jobs the innovator and consummate showman, my thoughts turn back to my introduction to Apple computers when hardly anybody knew there was such a thing as a computer you could place on your desk.

This was back in 1980 – 1981. I was in the early years of my long career in international marketing at Eastman Kodak Co. This was at the height of Kodak success and prosperity. It was a forward looking company that employed the best talent, especially in the Kodak research labs. They undoubtedly employed more PhDs than many medium size universities of that day and age.

I was fortunate back in 1980 to have as my direct supervisor a man that had come from the Kodak technical community to work in our international marketing group. He had a PhD in Applied Mathematics, and was probably one of the smartest people I have ever known.

What I soon discovered is that my new supervisor was taking all these weekend trips and vacation trips to the Bay Area in California. We finally learned that he had been working as a technical consultant to Apple Computer Company, although no one around me knew this company existed.

We soon found out when we had our first view of an Apple computer sitting on our desks. No one had heard of desk top computers in our working area. So far as I know, no one else at Kodak had a computer on their desk.

We got these computers because my supervisor was a consultant for Apple. As I think about it now, they were probably test units to see how a bunch on non-technical office workers would react and adapt to using a computer on our desk.

I must confess that after the initial shock at having these marvels on our desks, after all they had a whopping 56K memory, and could do wonderful numbers crunching which we otherwise would have to do on one of the bulky calculators of that day.

But we soon found ourselves so involved with these machines that we wondered how other people could do their work without them.

Not too long after that, we heard about this amazing new computer that Apple was introducing that was called the Lisa.

When Lisa finally made her entry into our offices and was placed on our desks, we were in total awe at the many features and functions of this devise. My memory is somewhat fuzzy, but I am pretty sure that one of the wonders that Lisa introduced us to was going from one application program to another just by switching screens! It was awesome!

However, Lisa did not have sufficient memory to support all these advanced functions. Therefore it was woefully slow. But in spite of that we loved her. So much so, that when our supervisor, fresh from one of his weekend trips to the Bay Area, had these new funny looking machine, with a tiny screens placed on our desks.

We were being asked to give up the large, bright screens of the Lisa for these new computers with their miniscule screen.

Much as we gripped, the Lisas were taken away and the new McIntosh computers were provided for us to work on.

It seems hard to believe that after using the Macs for a few days, we were so overtaken by the speed of the Macs that we forgot all about poor Lisa.

This was probably around 1984, and by now we were so dependent on our desk top Macs that we couldn’t imagine how we ever did our work without them.

I’m not sure when my supervisor stopped making his frequent trips to the Bay Area, but it was probably in the mid 1980s when apple had grown to a couple of thousand employees, and was becoming a household word around the world.

So, I didn’t ever meet Steve Jobs in person, but I worked for a man that I am sure was hired as a consultant by Steve Jobs himself.

We benefitted by this connection by having access to the latest Apple products at a time when Kodak was reputed to be one of the largest IBM customers. Those Apple computers would not have found their way in without the Apple connection that we had through my supervisor.

As the years went by, I continued to follow Steve Jobs performance in his many new product introductions.

But for me, the most vivid and priceless impressions are of those early years when we experienced Apple products with a few other people as these products were been introduced to the world for the first time.

Street Talk

Thanks for sharing your story! What a blessing to have experienced Apple products in your day to day work in the earliest days.

  about 6 years ago

I don't have a question, and I'm not an expert on Apple computer history, but I would be delighted to answer questions about my experience with Apple computers when they were first being introduced.

  about 1 decade ago
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