"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
-Oscar Wilde
Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
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"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It isn't just about the hit to my retirement planning
Posted by Jill | 9:15 PM
Back in 1995, I took the money out of my then-employer's 401(k) and put it into an IRA that contained mutual funds and some individual stocks. One of those stocks was Apple, and my new account had 40 shares of Apple purchased at $38/share. A 2-1/2 for one split later, and a small investment in Apple stock started to play a sizable role in my retirement planning, for all that the Apple products in my house consist of an iPad that was gifted to me and a PowerMac G5 that had outlived its usefulness at its former corporate home and had been relegated to the computer recycling dumpster.

Still, for all that Casa la Brilliant is not an Apple home, (unlike that of my father, which ought to be used in Apple commercials), the company in many ways led me towards my IT career. Yes, as an administrative assistant at Standard & Poor's I used first a Wang word processing terminal and then an IBM AT-class computer, which boasted a 286 processor, 512K of memory, and a 40mb hard drive; but it wasn't until I moved to the IT group and fell in love with the little white elongated cube that smiled at me when I started it up that I started along the path towards a world that led me to believe that I could write programs and make pretty pictures for presentations.

When the history of my generation is written, it'll be about the ones who crashed and burned, or the ones who we thought Changed Everything but ultimately changed very little. But if in the future, the gadgets that people use to enrich their lives and obtain information continue to evolve, it won't be Bill Gates that they'll remember as the great historic figure, it'll be Steve Jobs.

And so aside from the financial hit that I'm going to take tomorrow, as Chicken Little investors start dumping Apple stock (making it a good day to buy, as far as I'm concerned), I find Steve Jobs' resignation from the CEO position at Apple to be some of the most melancholy news I've heard today:
Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since Jan. 17, resigned as chief executive of Apple Wednesday, saying he could "no longer meet" the duties and expectations of the job.

Interim CEO Tim Cook was immediately elevated to CEO, while Jobs, 56, will stay on as chairman of the board.

"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Jobs said in a letter to "the Apple community" that was released by the company. "Unfortunately, that day has come."

It isn't that Jobs is saint. Unlike his peer and rival Bill Gates, Jobs never decided to parlay the ridiculous amount of money he made out of the company he started in his garage with Steve Wozniak so long ago into a post-midlife career as a big old cuddly philanthropist. And opinions vary as to whether he's this nice, humble, zen guy, or a ruthless asshole. But when you look at where technology is now, with a world of information at our fingertips, and how reports on the Weather channel giving advice on what to do about your phone service don't even MENTION landlines but show clip after clip of people carrying iPhones, or when you walk into an Apple store and whether you feel a lack in your life or not, you immediately think WANT. NOW. SRSLY. -- or when the Apple store itself makes it into a song lyric to a hit Broadway show, you know that what Steve Jobs has done over the years is nothing less than change the world we live in. It isn't so much that he created products out of thin air, but he has always had a sense of the intuitive mind and a great sense of design. Sure, Apple has always built great products which it's been able to sell at a premium price, but Jobs has arguably been the first CEO-as-cult-figure -- something all to rare in our greed-obsessed times.

While there are no accompanying reports about the state of Jobs' health, one has to assume that nothing could tear him away from this company except, as he wrote in his lette, he can no longer meet his duties as CEO, that a deterioration in his health is at least a contributing factor to his decision. I'd love to believe that he's accomplished everything he wanted to and now he feels he can step down, but someone with his drive and his constant yearning to explore the limits of technology and our potential to be enriched by it doesn't reach that point in a normal lifetime.

Steve Jobs is exactly my age, which adds another ominous dimension to his decision. No matter that he's achieved in his career a level of immortality that even the most legendary cultural figures can rarely hope to achieve; 56 is not a particularly old age.

I hope that he has many more years ahead of him to continue to explore and dream for his own enrichment after spending thirty years exploring for ours.


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Anonymous The Wifely Person said...
I have a sad feeling that the brilliant Mr. Jobs is preparing us for his final departure.

My first Mactinosh, a PLUS, had the signatures of all the developers _inside_ the case. In 1987, it was sent home from Cray Research where my husband worked, by the brilliant Thea Hodge who thought it was high time I learned to use a "machine."

My favorite t-shirt in the world had Mac Plus and mouse on the front with a wire leading to the back where it said "My other computer is a Cray." There is a picture of a Cray 1, the world's fastest couch.

Even my 88 year old mother is on a Mac. I remain a devoted mac-head.

Apple will go on, but it will lose a bit of his magical sparkle.