all bits considered data to information to knowledge

12Oct/111

Steve Jobs als Wille und Vorstellung

At a risk of incurring wrath of Apple aficionados I would like to ponder the question what made Steve Jobs a hero of the self-styled “free thinkers” with sizeable disposable income to plunk on gadgets…

Visionary? A hit-and-miss record rather

Moral authority? Uhm…not really

Philanthropist? Ahm… next question!

Technical prowess? Jobs' supposed opus magnum was a Breakout game - designed by Steve Wozniak, for which Steve Jobs got $5,000 bonus from Atari (generously paying Wozniak a whopping $375). Otherwise, name a single app that Steve developed by himself, or device - electronic or otherwise -  he had designed.

So, what’s left? Impeccable timing and marketing savvy, no-nonsense authoritarian leadership style, greater-than-life personality and healthy disdain for conventions. With these qualities he had changed the world - at least in minds of the consumer clamoring for the gadgets...

R.I.P, Steve. It was a great ride.

Yet I cannot help but wonder: Dennis Ritchie died on October 12, 2011. I wonder how many of those mourning Steve Jobs would know his name... Ritchie was one of the key developers of the original Unix operating system, and the principal designer of C programming language. Does not ring any bells?  Oh, the Internet basically runs on Unix; your iPhone/pod/pad run on Unix-derived system, your favorite apps - from Microsoft Word to Skype to Chrome Browser are written in C;  entire Windows/MacOS/Linux/Android operating systems are written in C or its derivatives.. The changes that Ritchie brought about are infinitely more profound than a slick package design, and has affected life of every single person on this planet - yet he's not a household name, and unlikely to become one...

P.S. An interesting post from Nuno Barreiro comparing respective contributions of Steve Jobs and Richard Feynman adds yet another perspective... alas, not in Steve Jobs favor.