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Jobs: A lesson to remember

October 11, 2011
By Richard Clark , Daily Press

ESCANABA - In the 1960s students wrote term papers on typewriters. For Generations X and Yers - a typewriter had a keyboard but no spell checking, no cut and pasting, no grammar check and paper came off a roller, located where the screen is located on a laptop.

Rewrites were a grueling affairs of retyping everything.

In the late 1960s a few students walked around college campuses with punch cards, stiff rectangular paper with small rectangular holes. Punch cards programed computers. Computers were the realm of math and science majors, not English and history majors.

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Richard Clark

While visiting friends during Christmas time in 1978 I asked about their teenage son. I was directed to the basement. Walking down the steps into the basement I could see a green glow against the basement floor.

At the bottom of the stairs sat the young man in a chair with a television like screen containing green squarish letters sitting on top of a keyboard.

He had written a computer program. When he entered numbers the computer automatically added them.

The computer, an Apple II, became the first commercially successful home computer. The Apple II was developed by a couple of guys in a garage, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Their vision revolutionized our world.

In 1984 Apple computer introduced the Macintosh computer, a box, taller than wide, with a built in screen. It was the first personal computer that used a graphical user interface, GUI, pronounced gooey.

Team Electronics, located in Delta Plaza, sold Apple products. Team had the new Macs. Visiting Team for the first look at the Mac was magical. Using a mouse, the operator could draw an object, select it and move it around on the screen using the same mouse.

Steve Jobs did not invent GUI or the mouse or the Mac, but he pushed and promoted and developed gooey, the mouse and the Mac.

The Mac television ad, 1984,, ran once during the 1984 Super Bowl, two days before the Mac went on sale. Reflecting Jobs' approach at Apple, the ad was a metaphor of Apple's pursuit to break the computer dominance of IBM.

Mr. Jobs' parents sent him, an adopted child, to a small liberal arts college in Oregon. After six months he looked around and felt he was wasting his working-class parents' money and stopped attending the regular curriculum. For the next 18 months he took classes that interested him.

One of the classes Mr. Jobs pursued was calligraphy. In a 2005 commencement address at Stanford,, he credited his study of calligraphy with development of the variety of fonts for used on the Mac. He said that because other companies copied the Mac for its fonts, his calligraphy experience is responsible for all the fonts on all the world's computers.

In his 2005 address Mr. Jobs told the Stanford graduates to follow their intuition and passion.

He noted that the calligraphy class had no practical application to his life at that time he attended it but later became very important.

How different Mr. Jobs' ideas are from the present prevailing thought that emphasizes education as a training ground for employment. Here is what Mr. Jobs said at Stanford,"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Jobs' idealism is in short supply. If Mr. Jobs had stayed in college and burned through his working-class parents' money, his required courses would not have included calligraphy and our lives would be different. We would be looking at square green letters on a black background.

Mr. Jobs didn't squander his parents' money and we live in a world of more color and design elegance from Apple. A lesson to remember.


EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at



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