Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Too Soon


Father's Day

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.  The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify them or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy.  How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? We make tools for these kinds of people.  Because while some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. And it's the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world who actually do." -Apple Marketing circa '99

I find myself sitting here tonight thinking to myself "holy crap, what are we going to do without Steve Jobs?", without a hint of irony. I never knew him, except through the companies he created. I never even worked for one of his companies. But the decisions he made at those companies were unlike decisions that could ever be made at any other company in the world.

Those companies came to define my reality, and the reality of the entire world.

Apple was to many in my generation: our Beatles, and Steve Jobs was our John Lennon.

The thing that made Apple special in those days, and to a lesser extent these days, was one simple thing: they gave a crap about quality. More than that ... it was the only thing they cared about. It was quality and quality only that mattered. Late deadlines be damned, profits be damned. It was insanely great or it wasn't shipping.

It inspired an entire generation of programmers, myself included, to be able to look past requirements and deadlines ... to look past the way things were and to see the way things could be, and to make that your vision.

This story from Apple's early days, when they were literally inventing the first macintosh, is one I've always found inspiring. It's more than the story of how they got some real primitive hardware to be able to do fast circles and rounded rectangles: it's a story about a workplace that values the creativity of it's workers, that is a fertile ground for great ideas to take root and blossom into world changing stuff.

In all seriousness. Is there any company left in America that is even remotely focused on building great shit anymore? I'm not sure what exactly Steve Jobs was at a technical level, but he must have been one hell of a manager ... and I haven't even mentioned Pixar.

Damn, damn, damn.  It feels like the tech world is on it's own now ... like the last grownup has left the building.

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