Now, their father, John Eisenhower, age 90, has added his voice in a letter to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. It is a quite reasonable letter, with at least one phrase that might have come from a planning or architecture school charette: “To my mind, though it is creative, the scope and scale of it is too extravagant and it attempts to do too much. On the one hand it presumes a great deal of prior knowledge of history on the part of the average viewer. On the other, it tries to tell multiple stories. In my opinion, that is best left to museums.”
Debates about such memorials have frequently drawn attention to public cultural divides. This one has been quite bitter, with modernists defending Gehry because of its author’s reputation but despite the actual design and classical architecture conservatives attacking it and any non traditional scheme.
John Eisenhower wants the basic traditional layout of a memorial for his father. In his letter he writes that “taxpayers and donors alike will be better served with an Eisenhower Square that is a green open space with a simple statue in the middle, and quotations from his most important sayings.”
The controversy is in contrast to the celebration that surrounded the opening this fall of the FDR Four Freedoms memorial on Roosevelt Island in New York. The story is familiar: how the last design of Louis Kahn was completed just before he died in 1974 but stayed unbuilt until recently, when it was carried out by the firm of Mitchell/Giurgula. The four acre park opened this fall with leading members of the New York and national Democratic party establishment like Bill Clinton and the Govs. Cuomo, pere et fils, in attendance.
John Eisenhower would probably be happy with something like the Four Freedoms park for his father. Kahn is regarded as a master of modernism, but the design of the Four Freedoms memorial is quite traditional. It comes close to the green space, statue and quotations formula. Kahn described the memorial as “a room and a garden.” It is a European park, really, an allee of trees protected by stone walls and a rip rap (protective barrier) of boulders at water’s edge. At the point of the island rise walls of granite and sort of box housing a metal bust of FDR by sculptor Jo Davidson. Nearby is a single upright stone panel bearing words from the 1941 speech that enunciated the Four Freedoms.
The Four Freedoms are no longer well known, so the place serves the purpose of reminding the public of their ideals. The Four Freedoms— freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear---were the stated ideals on which the U.S. fought World War II and the basis for FDR’s international ideals. Effectively a translation of the New Deal into global foreign policy, they were also the principles behind the United Nations, whose headquarters is framed in the view south of the new park.
Immediately after the end of World War II, the Four Freedoms became caught up in the reaction in the U.S. against international involvement. Isolationists and right wing Republicans, already heading toward McCarthyism and the Red Hunt, derided such thinking as “globaloney.” The perspective of time has also shown a certain naiveté about the internal contradictions of the Four Freedoms—what happens, say, when freedom of religion conflicts with freedom of the press or freedom from want? The record of the UN is achieving the Four Freedoms is to put it kindly, mixed.
But visitors to the new park won’t pay much attention to all that. Over the long run, the best memorials tend to function for recreation as much as commemoration—like such holidays as Memorial day and Labor Day. With more development set for Roosevelt Island, notably a campus of Cornell University, more and more people are likely to find their way to the grass and the views and never think about the Freedoms.
Like Ike, FDR had ideas about an appropriate memorial. He told Justice Felix Frankfurter that “if there is a memorial to me, I should like it to consist of a block the size of this desk.” His request was heeded. Not far from the Commerce Building on the Mall and rarely noted by visitors is a marble block the size of a desk. It is the official Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
There is of course a much more prominent and more visited FDR Memorial, opened in 1997 in Washington. If the Four Freedoms park is built around a room, the Washington park is a warren of rooms, a rambling tenement of plaques and statues, with areas dedicated to each term and all sorts of constituencies placated. Designed by Lawrence Halprin, it is built around a series of water features whose schemes are supposed to symbolize aspects of FDR’s tenure in office. Most visitors seem likely to miss this meaning. They are also likely to glaze over at the words inscribed on the walls, which read like a Democratic party platform. Even a ward boss couldn’t make his way through them.
What of the other presidential monuments? Lincoln and Jefferson are well known. But Teddy Roosevelt, their companion on Mt. Rushmore, instead of a marble temple is celebrated with a grove of trees on an island in the Potomac. LBJ, whose reputation lagged until recently, gets only a few stones imported from Texas and a few trees planted in a spot few people visit. (A revival of LBJ’s reputation began recently, with such books as Robert Caro’s biography.) No one to my knowledge has suggested that JFK needs any more memorial than the eloquently mute eternal flame on his grave.
Memorials are not built to please their subjects—or even their subjects’s offspring. They are there to remind and inspire us and teach us and our children moral and historical lessons.
Our Longing for Lists
By PHIL PATTON
Published: September 1, 2012
WITH school starting and vacations ending, this is the season of the list—of reading lists and class lists and buy for back to school lists.
But we are also living in the era of the list, maybe even its golden age. The Web click has led to the wholesale repackaging of information into lists, which can be complex and wonderful pieces of information architecture. Our technology has imperceptibly infected us with “list thinking.”
Lists are the simplest way to organize information. They are also a symptom of our short attention spans.
The crudest of online lists are galaxies of buttons, replacing real stories. “Listicles,” you might say. They are just one step beyond magazine cover lines like “37 Ways to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed.” Bucket lists have produced competitive list making online. Like competitive birders, people check off books read or travel destinations visited.
But lists can also tell a story. Even the humble shopping list says something about the shopper — and the Netflix queue, a “smart list” built on experience and suggestion algorithms, says much about the subscriber.
Lists can reveal personal dramas. An exhibit of lists at the Morgan Library and Museum showed a passive-aggressive Picasso omitting his bosom buddy, Georges Braque, from a list of recommended artists.
We’ve come a long way from the primitive best-seller lists and hit parade lists, “crowd sourced,” if you will, from sales. We all have our “to-do” lists, and there is a modern, sophisticated form of the list that is as serious as the “best of...” list is frivolous. That is the checklist.
The surgeon Atul Gawande, in his book “The Checklist Manifesto,” explains the utility of the list in assuring orderly procedures and removing error. For all that society has accomplished in such fields as medicine and aviation, he argues, the know-how is often unmanageable — without a checklist.
A 70-page checklist put together by James Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13, helped him navigate the spacecraft back to Earth after an oxygen tank exploded. Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger safely ditched his Airbus A-320 in the Hudson River after consulting the “engine out” checklist, which advised “Land ASAP” if the engines fail to restart.
At a local fast-food joint, I see checklists for cleanliness, one list for the front of the store and one for restrooms — a set of inspections and cleanups to be done every 30 minutes. The list is mapped on photo views, with numbers of the tasks over the areas in question. A checklist is a kind of story or narrative and has a long history in literature. The heroic list or catalog is a feature of epic poetry, from Homer to Milton. There is the famed catalog of ships and heroes in “The Iliad.”
Homer’s ships are also echoed in a list in Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter”: “‘The time has come,’ the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax — of cabbages — and kings.’” This is the prototype of the surrealist list.
There are other sorts of lists in literature. Vladimir Nabokov said he spent a long time working out the list (he called it a poem) of Lolita’s classmates in his famous novel; the names reflect the flavor of suburban America in the 1950s and give sly clues to the plot as well. There are hopeful names like Grace Angel and ominous ones like Aubrey McFate.
Borges was also big on lists. Michel Foucault famously referred in his book The Order of Things to a list from Borges’s story, “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins.” The story’s narrator claims to have found the list in “a certain Chinese Encyclopedia,' the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which it is written that animals are divided into:
1. those that belong to the Emperor,
2. embalmed ones,
3. those that are trained,
4. suckling pigs,
6. fabulous ones,
7. stray dogs,
8. those included in the present classification,
9. those that tremble as if they were mad,
10. innumerable ones,
11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
13. those that have just broken a flower vase,
14. those that from a long way off look like flies.
This list parodies the natural historian’s system of classification.
Simple lists of words can quickly take on many shades of meanings. In the 1800s, Peter Roget, an obsessive list maker and polymath, created the classification of synonyms that became “Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases.” The literary critic and language expert H. L. Mencken put together his own list of synonyms for the word “drunk.” They included: snooted, stewed, jugged, jagged and pifflicated.
Literary lists are celebrated at Listsofnote, a Web site run by Shaun Usher that regularly offers examples of lists of cultural value. Examples include a scrawled compilation by the punk rocker Sid Vicious of the 12 virtues of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen (No. 8: “Has fab taste in clothes”); F. Scott Fitzgerald’s advice to his daughter (“Worry about horsemanship”; “Don’t worry about insects in general”); and 47 suggestions from film studio executives for alternative titles to Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” including “The Shadow,” “Shadow and Substance” and “Shadow on the Stairs.”
Menus are lists of choices and they can tell a story too. Here is the cheese list from Terroir, in New York’s East Village:
Coupole, pasteurized goat
Brie, pasteurized cow
Pyrenees Brebis, pasteurized sheep
Timberdoodle, cow, sheep
Challerhocker, raw cow
Harbison Jasper Hill Farm, raw cow
Oro Antico, pasteurized sheep
Roomano, pasteurized cow
Colston Basset Stilton, pasteurized cow
But the menu at the Waffle House chain proves that even the most mundane lists can be packed with information. Like this offering for hashed browns:
“All the Way”
Scattered on the Grill and ...
Smothered — sautéed onions
Covered — melted cheese
Chunked — grilled hickory smoked ham
Diced — grilled tomatoes
Peppered — spicy jalapeño peppers
Capped — grilled button mushrooms
Topped — Bert’s chili
Country — sausage gravy
Visions of the future:
The Flair symposium at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin Texas this year looked at the future and Norman Bel Geddes, the visionary creator of such designs as the GM Futurama at the 1939 World’s Fair. There’s a big show of Bel Geddes at the Ransom now.
Our panel was about the famous exhibit Bel Geddes did for General Motors, called Magic Motorways—high speed super highways--which pretty much came true, circa 1960. What was fascinating was that the romantic phrase “magic motorways” compelled such emotion at the time—and how brief that period of magic was, before motorways became freeways and expressways and turned from romantic parkways to dull, jammed commuter routes.
The keynote speaker was cyberpunk novelist Bruce Sterling—very funny and shrewd. (He noted that Bel Geddes ocean liner like A4 Airliner included a full range of passenger amenities, including a masseur on board.)
Architect Greg Lynn was there, describing projects for (it seemed many) robot companies and Alan Hess, one of my favorites: he has redeemed the great popular architecture of Wayne McAllister and others in LA.
Visitors to the GM pavilion in 1939 came away with buttons that read “I have seen the future.” The Ransom has similar buttons too. Brilliant publicity, but also a hint of something deeper.
phrase recalled the journalist John Reed, who made a famous trip to the Soviet Union after 1918 revolution and came back saying
“I’ve seen the future.”
The rest of his sentence was "--and it works."
The 1939 World’s Fair was in many ways liberal capitalism's answer to the USSR—and to the ideologies on both right and left in the years before World War II. Like FDR’s New Deal, it was a sketch for a future without central planning, but one that was centrally planned.
“The future ain’t what it used to be,” as the old joke goes. Worlds fairs have faded, but that is because film, television and the internet present new features daily.
One can speak of the institutionalization of the future in the fashion system and all the familiar tropes of induced discontent and so-called “planned obsolescence.” But today technology is doing a fine job of creating obsolescence, with little planning needed.
And futurists are flourishing and they may themselves reflect the future. To judge from the Flair conference tomorrow will be full of super fit guys with shaved heads and high tech glasses—versions of Michel Foucault with a gym membership.
STEVE JOBS: OUT FOR REVENGE
By Phil Patton
Published: August 06, 1989
STEVE JOBS, SHIRT SLEEVES rolled up to his elbows, long hair over his collar, sits like a virtuoso at the keyboard of his new computer. Behind him, projected onto a huge screen, computer images -silvery letters and symbols - expand and shrink, leap and pop about as Jobs puts the machine through its paces. An audience of 200 business people watches as he demonstrates how, in seconds, the computer can find a reference buried in the complete works of Shakespeare or create a model of a bouncing molecule. Speakers boom out a message by way of the voice-mail system, and then broadcast a snatch of Bach - ''synthesized,'' Jobs boasts, ''from pure mathematics.''
He has named this computer NeXT. ''What we want,'' he tells the audience, ''is to create the next computing revolution. We want to push the envelope.'' The name NeXT stakes his claim to the newest standard in the industry -a PC with unprecedented power and versatility and an innovative programming system - but it is also an undisguised reference to curiosity about the next chapter in the story of Steve Jobs.
In l976, at the age of 21, Steven Paul Jobs co-founded Apple Computers with Stephen G. Wozniak, five years his senior, whom Jobs had known since he was a sophomore at Homestead High School, in California's Silicon Valley. Within five years, Apple had become a billion-dollar company. Then in 1985 Jobs was forced out - by John Sculley, whom Jobs himself had hired two years before to be the company's chief executive. Ever since, working in almost total secrecy, Jobs had been preparing a comeback. Now, at age 34, no longer the boy wonder of the computer industry, he was starting over.
IN SILICON VALLEY, A COMPUTER IS CALLED A ''box,'' a sign that the guts may be less important than the skin. The guts of Jobs's new machine are housed in a ribbed black magnesium cube. Keyboard and monitor are separate, connected by cables, the 17-inch screen dramatically cantilevered over a swooping support. ''Computers,'' Jobs likes to say, ''are the metaphor of our time. They should share a certain higher esthetic.''
Not that what is inside the NeXT box is unimportant: a new optical memory system that uses a laser to store and read up to 250 volumes' worth of information on a single disk, a sound system of CD quality, a powerful array of sophisticated processing chips, and innovative software.
''What other computer can you sit down to,'' he says, referring to the ''Digital Librarian'' feature of the NeXT machine, ''and blast through the complete works of William Shakespeare in just a couple of seconds?''
Although it looks like a personal computer, the NeXT machine is much more powerful than any PC on the market. It has the capabilities of computers known as workstations, previously used mostly by engineers and scientists. Like most workstations, it employs Unix, an aging but powerful basic software system. But at $10,000 it costs much less than most workstations of comparable power.
Business has traditionally eschewed the Unix system, and it still accounts for just 9 percent of the computer market today. But, thanks in part to NeXT, Unix is expected to more than double its share in the next five years. Jobs has encased its complexities in a new variation of the software, a ''user shell'' that will make it, he says, ''usable by mere mortals.'' Called NeXTStep, the software employs a Tinker Toy approach that allows novices as well as experts to combine pre-existing sections of instructions, or ''objects,'' to create the programs they need - an innovative technique known in the industry as ''object-oriented programming.''
What may be most revolutionary about NeXT, however, is not its technology but the fact that it is the first computer to be sold primarily on the strength of mystique.
Critics and champions alike - and Jobs has plenty of each - agree that he has always been at his best as a salesman and evangelist for the computer. Joanna Hoffman, who worked with Jobs at Apple and at NeXT, says, ''In some ways, Steve gets philosophical the way the Greeks did. He always wants the best. He has these esthetic notions of perfect shapes and perfect sounds. It is almost Platonic.''
Jobs's obsession with detail, with appearance, is part of his legend. When a small imperfection showed up on the first samples of the computer's cases, he flew to Chicago to work with the die maker. At NeXT's automated factory in Fremont, Calif., he had the machines repeatedly repainted to achieve the uniform gray he wanted.
Colleagues may use words like Platonic to describe his esthetic but for Jobs the technology is ''neat'' and ''whizzy'' - as opposed to ''bozo'' and brain-damaged. He has never claimed to be an in- (Continued on Page 52) ventor - creating computers, he has said, is a ''collective art.'' It was his partner Steve Wozniak who worked wonders to pack performance into the few chips of the Apple II. Steve Jobs was the front man.
''This is still a business of personalities,'' says Esther Dyson, a respected observer of the computer world. ''Perceptions are important, but there has to be some fundamental value underneath.''
Dyson compares Jobs's efforts to achieve credibility for NeXT to that of the party host who gets one prestigious guest to come by promising the presence of another. ''It is a confidence game in the old sense of the word 'confidence,' '' she says.
''Steve's an impresario,'' says Jeffrey S. Young, whose ''Steve Jobs: The Journey Is the Reward'' was recently reissued in paperback. ''He goes out and finds new technologies like they were rock'n'roll bands.''
T HESE DAYS STEVE JOBS wears suits as dark and elegantly designed as his new computer. When I first met him, at Apple seven years ago, he had on a worn tweed sports coat, jeans and hiking boots. His talk was full of the cosmic significance of his ''insanely great'' computers. ''At Apple,'' he said then, ''we want to make computers that will change the world. We want to put a ding in the universe.''
Computers were still ungainly machines with banks of flashing lights; Jobs's ambition was the personal computer, small machines for home or office use. It was an ambition born of the 60's counterculture. Jobs had sampled LSD, traveled to India and found a guru, lived on a communal fruit farm and studied Zen before he founded Apple.
Computer buffs routinely refer to Jobs as a ''folk hero.'' Hollywood has optioned a film about his life. But he also has a reputation as a difficult and sometimes egotistical boss. Apple employees nicknamed him ''the reality distortion principle.'' He made obstacles look like challenges, but he also made foolhardiness look like courage. He would dismiss a new idea and then come back a week later championing it as his own, now repackaged as ''this neat idea I had.'' He consistently overestimated demand for the Macintosh - once by more than 90 percent - and just as consistently convinced his team he was right.
Jobs's management failures were compounded by design failures: the Macintosh was not compatible with other computers, nor could it be used with hard disks or letter-quality printers. Jobs vetoed a hard-disk drive for the Macintosh because it offended his sense of esthetics: the fan necessary to cool the disk drive made too much noise. Letter-quality printers he perceived as old-fashioned, when compared to the laser printers Apple had in the works.
This uncompromising vision, defiant and dramatic, served Apple well when the personal-computer industry was young, but as PCs became more common the need for communication between different machines became vital. Alan C. Kay, the computer scientist who developed many of the technologies on which the Macintosh and NeXT are based, once described the Macintosh, with its clean lines and crisp screen, as a model of Jobs's mind: ''If you look at it from the front, it's fantastic. If you look at it from the back, it stinks. Steve doesn't think systems at all . . . about connectivity, about the ability to link up to a larger world.''
By the end of 1984, Apple was in decline, its stock price depressed. In the second quarter of 1985, for the first time in its existence, Apple declared a (Continued on Page 56) loss. At the same time, Sculley pushed Jobs out. Many think he saved Apple -and the Macintosh - from Jobs. It was only after Sculley ordered the Mac's memory increased, a second disk drive added and the machine ''opened up'' to additional equipment that it began to enjoy its major success. After he was ousted, Jobs spent a summer traveling and thinking disconnectedly about what he would do next. By September, he had formulated a comeback strategy. The two biggest customers for computers are businesses and schools. I.B.M. and I.B.M.-compatible equipment dominated the former, but Apple was pre-eminent in the educa-ational market. Jobs knew that he was still regarded as a prophet on campus. OVER A LONG LUNCH AT A PALO Alto coffee shop with the Stanford professor Paul Berg, a Nobel laureate and DNA expert, Jobs began to understand the need for more powerful, less expensive and easier-to-use computers to do genetic research and other scientific projects. Picking Berg's brain gave Jobs something like a rallying cry: he would give every student the theoretical equivalent of a DNA wetlab, put a model of a linear accelerator on every desk; he would deliver the power of a workstation in a PC.
That summer, Jobs began selling his Apple stock, which was worth more than $100 million. He hired half-a-dozen key employees from the Macintosh team - provoking a time-consuming lawsuit by Apple - and invested $7 million in his new company.
Long before Jobs tackled the engineering problems of his new computer, he was at work on esthetic ones. Characteristically, he decided to design his company's logo before anything else.
Four designers gave it a try before Jobs became convinced he had to have the grand old man of the business, then 72-year-old Paul Rand, who had created the logos for Westinghouse, ABC television, and, most significantly, for I.B.M.
In the old days, I.B.M. had been the enemy, the symbol of big government, big business, perhaps even Big Brother. Apple salesmen were given T-shirts bearing the legend ''Bluebusters,'' for Big Blue, I.B.M.'s nickname in the industry, taken from its blue logo. Rand said he had been under contract to I.B.M. for more than three decades and could not work for Jobs without I.B.M.'s permission. To the surprise of both Jobs and Rand, permission was granted. It was the beginning of a relationship vital to NeXT.
Rand flew out to Palo Alto, where Jobs briefed him, sharing his vision of a device in the shape of a cube - a crisp alternative to the table-top slabs or standing towers that he derided as ''big, hot boxes.'' Before he left the office, Rand had the basic idea. It took him just a couple of weeks to bring the logo to completion.
After dinner at Jobs's sprawling stucco house in Woodside, the hill town where the Silicon Valley's most successful entrepreneurs live, Rand handed Jobs a book outlining his proposal for the logo.
The book traced the logic behind the logo's design, suggesting possible alternatives en route. Rand watched Jobs's face as he read, his smile growing as each possible logo was suggested page by page and then discarded in favor of the next. On the last page was Rand's final design - a black cube set at exactly 28 degrees from level, with the company's name broken in half, on two lines. When Jobs saw it, he was so pleased that stood up and embraced the somewhat startled Rand.
To Silicon Valley, it seemed like (Continued on Page 58) classic Jobs: he had just spent $100,000 for a logo for a product that didn't yet exist.
TO TURN THE LOGO INTO THREE dimensions, Jobs, after several false starts, turned to an industrial designer he had used at Apple, Hartmut Esslinger, whose firm, called frogdesign, had designed products for Sony, General Electric and Kodak. Again Jobs had to get a rival's permission - this time Sculley's - before hiring the person he wanted; Sculley gave his assent only after Esslinger made a personal plea. It took the designer a weekend to come up with the dramatic cube and theatrical monitor.
Meanwhile, the NeXT team was at work making a computer to go into the box.
The work went slowly. Jobs pushed employees almost as hard as he had at Apple; 90-hour weeks were common. Some of the old behavior resurfaced. When Jobs first looked at software produced by a British firm called IXI, he dismissed it out of hand. A few weeks later, NeXT signed a deal with the company. The work was less chaotic than it had been at Apple, recalls Joanna Hoffman, but the pressure was the same. He was ''still the same energetic guy: it's him against the world.''
By the end of 1986, the computer was far from ready. The valley buzzed with talk that Jobs needed venture capital. Whether or not he was looking for money - Jobs denies it - money found him.
In February 1987, after seeing Jobs on a PBS show, ''The Entrepreneurs,'' the Texas computer innovator H. Ross Perot invested $20 million in NeXT, for which he received ownership of 16.7 percent of the company and a seat on its board of directors. Important as the money was to NeXT, Perot's involvement was most significant as a symbolic connection to an older, mainstream tradition of American entrepreneurship. And he was a great defender of Steve Jobs, whom he compared to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. At around the same time, both Stanford and the Carnegie Mellon University put in smaller amounts.
Even so, NeXT did not introduce the product in the spring of 1987, as it had planned, nor the following fall, when the company went on record as saying that the machine would be introduced by the end of the 1987-88 academic year. In June 1988, the introduction was delayed again.
The price of the machine was simultaneously creeping up, from the $3,000 Jobs had originally announced, before the machine was designed, to, finally, $10,000. As the date of its arrival kept slipping, the ''window of opportunity'' before NeXT's competitors would field rival machines was closing.
The jokes began: the name NeXT should be changed to Eventually. Someone at Apple created a button bearing a mock version of the logo. It read: NeVER.
ALTHOUGH VARIOUS ACCOUNTS have him angry and embarrassed at the delay, Jobs insists he never worried. ''We knew that something magical was happening,'' he says, ''and it was just a matter of wrestling it to the ground.''
The secrecy continued, and it guided the marketing as well as the engineering. NeXT created an advisory board - ultimately consisting of 24 professionals involved with the computer programs at their institutions - who made suggestions for the machine's features. Working under promises of nondisclosure, the members traveled periodically to Palo Alto, shrouded in an air of mystery. To their curious colleagues, they could say nothing.
Then, in the spring of l988, I.B.M. called. After getting permission to use Paul Rand, Jobs had had no other contact with I.B.M. In June 1987, he met John F. Akers, I.B.M.'s chief executive, at a social occasion - the 70th birthday party for the Washington Post owner Katharine Graham. Malcolm Forbes made the introduction.
The meeting paved the way for a call, some months later, from one of Akers's deputies, proposing a cooperative venture between the two companies. I.B.M. needed the kind of software system for its workstations that Jobs was developing for NeXT. The NeXTStep interface, which aims to make creating software as easy as the Macintosh made using it, will give NeXT something none of its competitors have: do-it-yourself programming for the amateur. In one early demonstration, a physics professor took just a few hours to create a map of changes in the earth's magnetic field over millions of years.
When I.B.M. called to discuss licensing the NeXTStep software, Jobs had not completely lost his suspicion of Big Blue. There would be no deal, he told I.B.M. executives in Armonk, N.Y., unless it was quick and simple. I.B.M.'s understanding of quick and simple was a 125-page contract, delivered by an executive to Palo Alto a few days later. Jobs dropped it on the table without reading it. ''You didn't get it,'' he said, and walked out of the room.
Within hours, a senior I.B.M. executive was on the phone. ''You write the contract and send it to us,'' he said. In a few days, a much smaller contract went to I.B.M. and the deal - for a figure industry analysts estimate at more than $10 million - was completed.
When Jobs finally presented the NeXT computer, last October, the news coverage was overwhelmingly favorable. Almost obscured was the fact that the machines he was showing were prototypes, with a finished product not likely to be available for months and basic software still incomplete. But perhaps nothing about the machine was quite as surprising as the announcement of the I.B.M. deal. For Apple veterans who had followed Jobs to NeXT, it seemed almost a betrayal. But as one industry analyst commented at the time, ''The I.B.M. alliance catapults NeXT into a position as an industry leader.''
DESPITE THE BACKING of Perot and now I.B.M., progress on NeXT still went slowly. By March of this year, only about a thousand test models had been shipped, with only the basic software they came packaged with.
Sales projections were low - only 10,000 units in 1989, by the most optimistic independent estimates. (NeXT doesn't make its own projections public.) This would account for only a few weeks' production in the expensive robot-run factory Jobs had built in Fremont, where each computer circuit board was to be assembled ''untouched by human hands,'' in just 20 minutes.
Perhaps more important, programmers could not afford to develop more sophisticated programs for a computer with this small a distribution. NeXT had announced that such major software firms as Lotus were working on programs, but until production reached a certain volume, the work would probably not be a high priority. The industry was buzzing with questions about where Jobs and NeXT were going.
Then, in March, Jobs signed an agreement with Businessland, the nation's largest retailer of personal computers. Businessland would distribute his machine to the general public. The idea of targeting universities was abruptly dropped. Businessland's CEO, David A. Norman, promised to take $100 million worth of NeXT equipment - at wholesale -in the first year and predicted that he would sell more than that. Experts saw sales of a quarter of a million machines a year by 1992.
Jobs had one more rabbit to pull out of his hat. In June, he announced that Canon, the Japanese firm that developed the optical disk in the NeXT computer, had bought 16.7 percent of the company, giving Canon the same share as Perot owned, for $100 million. The Canon connection meant financing for development of a second-generation machine, gave NeXT a Japanese distributor and, once again, provided a crucial boost to the company's credibility. If the value of the shares Canon bought is used as a yardstick, NeXT is theoretically worth $600 million. The $12 million Jobs has contributed to the company over the years is now worth $300 million.
IN THE END, DESPITE the succession of deals, Steve Jobs is relying on the sheer elegance and drama of the NeXT computer to make it a success.
''This machine,'' says one analyst, ''is for the executive who has to have the prettiest secretary and the fastest car.'' NeXT has been called ''the BMW'' of computers, and in fact Jobs has hired BMW's advertising firm.
So sharp is NeXT's resolution that even hardened and skeptical observers of the computer industry were taken with the stunning, sharp images, designed to a high level of sophistication. The ''icons,'' symbols for programs and functions, are animated cartoons, not just silhouettes, like the international road signs in earlier graphical interfaces. The symbol for deleting a file is a ''black hole,'' a swirling whirlpool shape and cosmic witticism.
But there are dissenting voices. NeXT is not a breakthrough but simply a packaging of technologies, some say. Bill Gates of Microsoft, the most important figure in the world of software, who before the I.B.M. deal had called NeXT the most beautiful computer he had ever seen, emerged to blast it. It was nothing innovative -merely an assemblage of off-the-shelf technology. Gates has his own ax to grind: sales of Microsoft's software for I.B.M. machines could suffer if I.B.M. aggressively supports NeXTStep. Gates also doubted that NeXT would ever become commercially viable. Many others agree with Gates's assessments.
It is not a criticism that bothers Jobs.
''We spent a lot of time rummaging through laboratories,'' Jobs acknowledges. They were looking for the best new technologies. The sum of the parts, Jobs's defenders say, is greater than the whole. Even though he wishes Jobs has gone further technologically, Alan Kay asserts that ''the NeXT machine will push others to innovate.'' Whether NeXT succeeds or fails in establishing itself as a practical industry standard like the I.B.M.-PC or Apple Macintosh, it has already become a standard of excellance - an esthetic model to aspire to.
FOR NOW, NeXT IS STILL A small player in a world of big ones. If it weren't for Jobs's reputation, one industry analyst says, NeXT would be just another start-up company. I.B.M., Digital Equipment and others are introducing new machines that, like NeXT, bridge the gap between PCs and workstations. Sun Microsystems has nicknamed its new Sparcstation computer a ''NeXT killer.''
The question, says Jonathan W. Seybold, publisher of a leading newsletter on desktop publishing, is whether NeXT can grow into a billion-dollar company without the crises even the best-run start-ups in Silicon Valley have faced. ''So far,'' says Seybold, ''I've been impressed with the way they listen, and the quality of the decision making.''
Now that the creation of Jobs's new machine is finished, he will be managing instead of developing, and that is where he got into trouble at Apple. NeXT machines at last are in retail stores, where people can see and touch them. And Steve Jobs, having made his connections, will now have to get along with his allies. He will have to depend on others to create the programs to fill his black box. NeXT is now able to boast that some 80 firms are writing programs for the machine. ''Emotionally, programmers wanted to develop for NeXT,'' says Seybold. The Businessland deal, he says, gave them ''rational justification.''
When Alan Kay looks at the NeXT box, he sees something new about Jobs. It is, he says, a machine that reflects not just Steve Jobs but ''a whole team behind him,'' and an ability to connect with other computers. Says Kay: ''Steve has finally discovered networking.''
By contrast to the Macintosh, a look at the back of the NeXT computer shows all sorts of connectors, neatly arranged. They represent what may be Jobs's solution to resolving his conflicting needs: an esthetic of connections.
Jeep: Design by Committee
A camel is a horse designed by a committee, the saying goes. But a camel is a pretty good design and for the desert a better design than a horse.
Created in 1940 in the fervor of war preparation emergency, the Jeep is a kind of automotive camel, a functional design with endurance and toughness rather than the speed and grace of a horse. It became an icon of functionalist design. Rectilinear and basic, it was a machine with personality---its slot grill face and bug eyed headlights suggested a touch of Mickey Mouse—and its name came from a cartoon character. The original Jeep was a playful figure in the Sunday newspaper comic Popeye whose name apparently echoed in “GP” for general purpose, the U.S. Army’s designation for the small vehicle.
It a design that has been acclaimed by high and low alike. It was hailed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which included it along with the Rolls Royce and MG in a show of great car designs in 1951 and placed it in the permanent collection. But it was also celebrated by foot soldiers and generals— Dwight Eisenhower praised it as the single most important piece of equipment of World War II—by cowboys and prospectors, explorers and adventurers.
The jeep is minimal design, a cartoon of a car, engineering reduced to its lowest common denominator and an ideal example of the modernist dream of beauty discovered in the most rigorous constraints of function.
(The great cartoonist Bill Mauldin got to the essence of the Jeep’s appeal by showing an unshaven U.S. soldier averting his eyes as he puts a wrecked Jeep out of its misery, like a downed horse, with his sidearm.)
The lesson of the Jeep is that despite all proof to the contrary, committees can sometimes produce great designs. Bureaucrats can produce masterpieces, such as the U.S. Constitution, say, or the USB computer port.
With all committees, the post mortem assignment of credit or blame is both inevitable and impossible. “Blamestorming,” it is called in the case of failure—but is there an equivalent term for assigning praise?
Was the most important person in creating the Jeep the man who wrote the original specs, Maj. William F. Beasley, Chief Engineer of the Quartermaster Corps?
Was the key figure the chief engineer at Bantam, Harold Crist who personally picked out the materials and off the shelf pieces for the first prototype? Or was it the brilliant consulting engineer, brought in by Bantam to draw up plans, Karl Propst? Perhaps instead it was Delmar G. “Barney” Roos, who stole away the contract from Bantam for his company Willys and in the process gave it the heart of his strong beating Go-Devil engine? Or was it the forgotten Ford production engineer, who gave the vehicle its characteristic stamped out seven slotted face?
The Jeep was created by an army committee and contractors in the summer of 1940, when a rearming U.S. military was reeling from the example of Hitler’s blitzkrieg sweeping across Europe. Automobility for the infantry would be as important as tanks, it seemed. As with all military equipment the Jeep began as a request for proposals from contractors. That request was issued by an army organization called the Ordnance Technical Committee, at Camp Holabird on the edge of Baltimore. The request included specifications: Weight: 2160 pounds. Payload 800 pounds. Four-wheel drive and climbing ability, high ground clearance and a low silhouette for safety on the battlefield.
The man in charge of the committee and often credited with the Jeep’s physical appearance was Maj. Beasley, the army engineer who laid out specifications for the vehicle and even supplied a rough sketch in June of 1940. The resulting document was a request for proposals, as the government phrase goes, that was distributed to some 135 automobile and truck manufacturers. But recovery from the Great Depression and rearmament meant that most of the companies had plenty of business already. They were asked by the proposal to produce a design within a month and a finished, working prototype in three months, by September.
But one firm looked greedily at the chance to produce such a vehicle. It was Bantam, a languishing auto company in Butler, Pennsylvania, which had enjoyed a flurry of success building for the American market the small British Austin car --a vehicle better known for its cuteness than its utility---before falling on hard times.
Bantam was so short staffed that it hired Detroit engineer Karl Probst, who in just three days in July created blueprints for the Bantam vehicle. Probst claimed he only took interest in the rush job after reading about “Winston Churchill's bulldog determination after the debacle at Dunkirk—'…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight in the streets.'" True or not, it provided a good story for the war effort. He drove straight from Detroit to Bantam’s office in Pennsylvania and threw himself in to the job.
Competition came from Willys-Overland, in Toledo, Ohio. In truth, Willys should have been disqualified. Its entry was late. Bantam built a prototype by September, meeting the deadline, while Willys sample was not ready until November. True, the Willys unit had a much stronger engine. But the new engine also pushed the vehicle above the weight limits.
The third competitor was Ford, whose entry was called the Pygmy.
Buying weapons is a monosophy, as economists call a market with only one customer, as a monopoly is market with only one seller. The weird effects of such a market are visible in many famous Pentagon stories of $500 hammers and the like. During the design of the Jeep, the army kept changing the rules. They increased the allowable weight of the vehicle. This is typical for the military. Often planes, tanks, trucks, radios or any military equipment grow during development in weight and complexity as contractors plead their special cases and services add features they desire.
So it happened with the Jeep. Willys managed to persuade the army that its engine offered so many advantages that it should increase the allowable weight of the vehicle. The top weight was lifted from 2160 to 2175.
This was arguably unfair to Bantam. The rules were changed in mid competition---and unfair practice and yet one that turned out for the best and improved the final product.
And even the 2,175 pound target was unrealistic—as Willys might have known it would be. Outfitted with the Go Devil engine, the finished Willys's vehicle weighed a full 2,423 pounds--nearly 250 pounds too much.
So famously, the chief Willys engineer Delmar G. “Barney” Roos cut out weight.
Roos was a legend among engineers in Detroit. He had worked at several companies in the motor city and since taking over at Willys, in Toledo, Ohio, he had improved the company’s basic engine in every detail, increasing its horsepower from forty five to sixty by these gradual improvement. The result was the “Go Devil” engine .
Now he had to reduce weight by the same thorough going process of incremental and detail attention that he applied to the engine.
Roos set his engineers and mechanics to work to remove every possible fraction of an ounce from the vehicle, a purgative editing that made it better. They reduced the sizes of nuts and bolts and washers and cotter pins, reduced the thickness of the steel and finally used lighter alloys. In the end, they reduced paint to a single coat.
Decades later, Jeep became a trademark owned by first Willys then American Motors and then Chrysler. Jeep used the slotted grille in its graphics and threatened legal action against companies which imitated it. But the original Jeep grille was series of rods; it was clever Ford manufacturing engineer, looking for ways to simplify production, who came up with a single stamped piece with slots. During World War II, Ford ultimately built nearly as many Jeeps as Willys.. Ford built 277,896 and Willys 335,531. The last Willys unit rolled out of its Toledo factory on August 20, 1945.
Bantam got no contract to produce vehicles, only trailers for them. The army judged it was too small to reliably turn out the jeep, but it claimed the design. Bantam proponents argued that the army had gotten most of its ideas for the first specifications by testing two British vehicles Bantam had lent it.
After the war, Willys produced civilian models. Ralph Lauren famously bought a blue civilian model, a 1951, from a passing farmer spotted near his ranch in Colorado, the story goes. He displayed it as one of the stars of his auto collection, but also drove it around the Hamptons. The Jeep quickly became known and adopted around the world. The Italian police in the film Roman Holiday (1953) patrol the Eternal City in leftover Jeeps.
The civilianized, post war jeep was appreciated as an artifact and design. Arthur Drexler of the Museum of Modern Art included it along with a Bugatti in a 1951 show and said it possessed the "combined appeal of an intelligent dog and a perfect gadget. . . looks like a sturdy sardine can on wheels . . . one of the few genuine expressions of machine art." Implicitly recalling the ball bearings and propellers of Philip Johnson’s 1934 landmark show Machine Art, Drexler called the Jeep “one of the few genuine examples of machine art.” “The Jeep is an automobile we Americans can be proud out,” The Jeep, now, that’s an automobile America should be proud of.”declared Charles Eames
The Jeep became an icon of functionalist design. Rectilinear and basic, but with personality---its slot grill face and bug eyed headlights suggested Mickey Mouse. Its name came from a cartoon character; Eugene the Jeep was a playful figure in the Sunday newspaper comic Popeye whose name apparently echoed in “GP” for general purpose, the U.S. Army’s designation for the small vehicle. Popeye’s Jeep, who came on the scene in 1936, was a rounded creature with a bulbous nose—a long, curious, vaguely obscene nose like the that of Kilroy, the cartoon graffito of the American soldier, chalked on wooden fences and stone walls around the world.
Historians and buffs battle over details and key personalities of the Jeep’s creation. There were partisans of Bantam and of Willys, of the Army and of individual engineers. They fight it out in such publications as Rooster Tails, the Journal of the Austin Bantam Society. Historian William Spear surveyed the literature: he cites the claims of an article from 1942 called "The Story Behind the Army Jeep" by John W. Chapman that credits Col. Bill Lee, Chief of Infantry with the key role. There is detail of the testing in "One Summer in Butler" published in 1974 in Automobile Quarterly (Vol 14 #4, p. 430) Paul Hackenberg in the 1953 "True's Automobile Yearbook" produced an article called "It Doesn't Pay to Invent a Jeep" which focuses on Harold Crist. In the mid 60's a detailed article by John Underwood supported Bantam’s claims. Karl Propst staked his claim to the jeep’s paternity by spreading out the drawings he had made for Bantam in 1940 the day he died—at his own hands as he faced incurable cancer.
The theme of most of the claims and the many tales is the unfair neglect of the true creator.
Many folk heroes---Lincoln, Moses--and indeed works of folk art—blues songs, quilt patterns--- have mysterious origins, the better to illustrate that they spring “from the people.” The stories give the jeep uncertain and even magical paternity.
The stories that emerged over the decades about the creation of the Jeep mostly focused on some unsung inventor or another. This was apt given that the Jeep was seen as the vehicle of the unseen ordinary soldier. Like folk heroes and folk art, rival creation tales competed.
Specifications as well as rough sketches from June 1940 support Beasley’s claim, argues designer Bill Porter. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1991, with the perspective of time, credited Bantam, Willys and Ford. Each company added key features to the product.. But it did not mention the Quartermaster Corps of the Army Porter complained.
William F. Beasley. Porter argued that “from the outset, the Army’s relentless and absolutely merciless testing of prototypes s and resulting feedback to the industry engineers undoubtedly played a crucial role in identifying design issues and r validating their resolutions”
Several key figures and two companies—Bantam and Willy’s--competed over the rights to claim the Jeep’s paternity. In 1941 Senator Harry Truman’s committee investigating defense spending examined charges that Bantam had been unfairly deprived of production contracts for the vehicle. In April 1942 with the nation taking up arms with post Pearl Harbor fury, Willys began an advertising campaign that proclaimed it had created and perfected the jeep. After complaints by Bantam and others the Federal Trade Commission ordered the company to cease claiming that it invented the jeep, although allowing it to claim it had improved it.
There is a convincing case to be made that no company should own the term Jeep, since it was supplied by the American G.I. or the American people.
David Lewis, one of the great interface designers, died last fall without proper attention in the media.
He was the respected designer for Bang & Olafsen in Denmark. He pioneered the wheel and arrow control system that was celebrated on the first iPods as an elegant, simple and approachable interface.
I had a rare interview with Lewis a few years ago and discussed the wheel system, which is now showing up more and more in automobile controls. . He said he first devised something like it for a 1960's audio equipment project for the Danish company. It was inspired, he said, by the big knobs on stereo equipment at the time, but placed flush with the surface of the electronics box and equipped with a "dimple" or depression for a finger tip. He used it on the Beocom 6000 telephone in 1997 and then on the Serene mobile telephone and Beosound 3 audio system, in 2005, as well as the novel but unsuccessful Serene mobile phone, an expensive model offered jointly by Samsung and Bang & Olfafsen.
"That tactile feedback of turning and clicking is reassuring,” he told me,
The idea was to concentrate many functions in one button. T he wheel control, he said, “was not based on extensive user research. Our approach was wholly intuitive. That is an approach that is out of fashion. We were building on established conventions that were known and understood, going back to the early telephone."
"That is terribly important when there are so many buttons."
Lewis called the iPod "a rather nice copy" of the B&O wheel. But he was not proprietary. At a time when high tech companies sue each other relentlessly over patents for email software, interfaces and other ideas, he said, “It never occurred to us to try to patent the wheel.”
On later versions of the iPod the mechanical wheel was replaced by an electronic membrane like a touch pad, with a wheel shape.
“The idea was to develop good ideas,” he said. If they were picked up by others, that was testimony to their success, he believed. He regarded the wheel idea in the same light as the basic arrow and box controls. These were used in the first audio tape recorders and later in disc players and software interfaces. That standard control, known world wide and translinguistic, is one of the basic good examples of a de facto standard, unenforced by government or international organization.
The wheels system was also a triumph of esthetic and functional “haptics” as the science of touch and feel is called. The roll and click produced satisfying, reassuring feelings in the fingers.
The Enzo Ferrari Birthplace Museum opened in March in Modena, Italy.
Built next to the home where the founder of Ferrari was born, the museum was the last work of the star architect Jan Kaplicky.
It has been a long time coming; the building was designed in 2003. After Mr. Kaplicky’s sudden death in January 2009, the structure was completed by his former colleague in the firm Future Systems, Andrea Morgante. Mr. Morgante, who kept a blog to record the progress of construction, spoke to Wheels on Thursday.
“It was a burden to be without him,” Mr. Morgante said of Mr. Kaplicky. “He is missed every day. I would turn towards the sky to say I hope we are doing this right.”
He said that part of the challenge was selling the city’s elected officials and citizens on the design, whose curved yellow roof with vents would come to be known locally as “the Hood.”
“This is one of the most traditional cities in Italy, so it stands out like a yellow thumb,” Mr. Morgante said. “It is an oversize crossbreed of car design, architecture and the most advanced engineering. After seven years, it is quite an amazing achievement.”
The museum was the product of an alliance of civic groups who wanted to lure tourists to a town best known for its vinegar and its 12th-century cathedral and piazza. The officials hope visitors will come to the old Ferrari house, where Enzo was born in 1898, to view effects from his daily life, like his famous pen and signature purple ink, as well as the bold structure next door. The complex is about 12 miles from Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello.
Beneath what appear to be huge air vents, the museum houses 21 vehicles, engines and other exhibits about the motor history of the area, “from the street circuit of Modena to the motor racing circuit to the Mille Miglia; from Scaglietti, Fantuzzi, Stanguellini to Maserati, Pagani, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, as well as Alfa Romeo,” accoring to literature from the museum. The contrast between the yellow, taken from the Ferrari shield, and Ferrari red, the Italian racing color dominant in Maranello, could not be starker.
The new museum has had a somewhat uneasy relationship with Ferrari the automaker, whose attractions at Maranello include another museum, the factory and star architecture in the form of a wind tunnel by Renzo Piano. “We are like a stone in their shoe,” Mr. Morgante said.
“We did it with a small budget of 18 million euros,” he said. “Ferrari was not financing it.”
In 2003, a competition was held among eight architects selected by Domus magazine. The winner, named in 2004, was Future Systems, which included Mr. Kaplicky and his partner and wife, Amanda Levete. The firm, which was based in London, was known for dramatic, rounded structures called bionic or blobomorphic designs, the most recognizable of which are the massive, bulging Selfridge’s department store in Birmingham, England, and the media center for the Lord’s cricket ground, which resembles something out of the cartoon show “Futurama.”
But the partnership, and the marriage, foundered. Mr. Kaplicky’s last major project, a library for the Czech Republic, was canceled in 2008. The next year, he died suddenly in Prague, the city of his birth, at age 71. The Design Museum in London mounted a commemorative exhibition of his work.
Mr. Morgante said the “car as museum,” as Mr. Kaplicky described it, summarized the architect’s fascination with everything that moved, be it cars, planes or boats. “That motion was a constant source of inspiration,” he said. A boat builder was called to consult on the construction of the hull-like aluminum roof.
Mr. Morgante expects many visitors to come not just for Ferrari, but for Kaplicky.
The other day in Barnes and Noble I noticed the area dedicated to the Nook reading device had new furniture: big chunky Parsons tables just like those in the Apple stores!
Those tables struck me as a symbol of the danger of learning the wrong lessons from Apple and especially these days from Steve Jobs.
It is fair to make anyone’s death the occasion not just to celebrate but to learn from his life and character, which is exactly why we should perhaps wait a while to study Steve Jobs.
Having dealt with Jobs at several stages of his career, from the early Apple days to NeXT and the era of the store launchings, I had a strong impression of his approach.
He was constantly implying of his questioners in the press that they lacked adequate faith, that their belief was too shallow. He could be both impatient and condescendingly indulgent in this view. But with employees and others he dealt with this attitude was given freer play. He could be a bully.
The authorized biography suggests a man who mellowed and learned to be more patient with other human beings. But it shows too that even late in life knew he tended to feel he knew better than just about anyone else about anything. He was given to shoot from the hip advice to CEOs and presidents.
Oddly, the focus on the authorized biography has failed to lead people back to the earlier books about Jobs. These are worth looking at. They document a consistent pattern of behavior. Jobs hated most of them and even tried to ban one. There is a pattern to the perspectives of Steve Levy in Insanely Great, Frank Rose in West of Eden, Michael Moritz in The Little Kingdom, Randall Strauss in The Next Great Thing.
Jeffrey Young’s The Journey is the Reward includes a page or two of the famous memo from Mac developer Jef Raskin about Jobs management faults. (He is late to meetings, he cuts off answers.)
Several years later, in 2005, when Young and his co writer William L.Simon came out with an expanded version of that book called iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, Apple not only banned it from Apple stores but cut out all orders of books from its publisher, John Wiley, for the stores.
The obituary considerations of Jobs suggest the danger of taking away from the his story the belief that his faults are necessary virtues in generating good design.
In any case, the Jobs story is not a simple lesson—“wouldn’t it be great if CEOs cared about design?”
Jobs’s fundamental faults continued even as his virtues increased. Ideas were junk until he bought into them. His toughness was not always about seeking the best—there was a lot of bullying to it.
We shouldn’t—and don’t-- have to depend on beneficent tyrants to foster good design an innovation in business organizations any more than we should have to depend on them to foster civil fairness and economic justice and prosperity in governments.
That is like thinking General Patton was successful in war because he slapped shell shocked soldiers or that chair throwing Bobby Knight is the only kind of basketball coach who can win.
We need more history of Apple. In many ways the early year of Apple were years of lost opportunity. With such a superior product, if Apple had priced and marketed more aggressively it could indeed have become the “computer for the rest of us,” the Volkscomputer, cheaper and better than rivals, like the Model T.
Instead, the IBM PC clone became the dominant computer standard. Apple was better but expensive and quirky. Windows was “the Mac for the rest of us.”
That was because it came from closed thinking.
A few days after Jobs death, Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab discussed Jobs in speaking about the One Laptop Per Child project. He said that Jobs resisted the idea of One Laptop.
The machine struck him as crude, yes, but most of all he resisted the idea of using open source software.
Closed source was key to the best and worst of Apple. The closed source assured quality and control of detail. It nurtured the so-called Apple ecosystem that developed innovative apps and attachments. It is on this ecosystem that not just brilliant creators of are dependent. So are those carts in the malls full of blinged out iPod cases, and Betty Boop and University of Texas longhorn cases. They are Apple design too!
But by contrast with IBM’s open standard for the PC, of course, Apple’s Mac strategy also provided profits.
The paradox of the closed world is one subject of a play The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, at the Public Theater in New York. The one-man show explores Jobs’s lack of apparent concern with working conditions in the Chinese Foxconn factory. It was a vision of reality that intruded uncomfortably into the neat clean dream vision of Apple culture.