Friday, October 7, 2011

Apple's Influence On Boomers

The passing of business luminary Steve Jobs this week should serve as a time of reflection for Boomers everywhere. Sure, Apple has had a profound effect on people of all ages around the world in the last 13 years since Jobs rejoined the company. But Steve Jobs' innovative spirit and vision for how computing and media could change our lives started more than a decade before Apple purchased his Next company. For any of us with more than 25 years of professional experience, Jobs' influence was truly transformative. The 1984 introduction of the Apple Macintosh desktop gave birth to the "almighty" cut and paste and mouse pointer concepts, forever changing our proficiency to develop and easily edit written content. I remember the excitement in our small agency office the day the MacIntosh units were set atop our desks, still draped with a branded grey cover so none of us could really see what we were getting. The "unveiling" occurred in unison when an Apple tech representative spent the day with us to "launch" our new system. Never having anything closely remote to this in college, you can imagine our collective awe as we saw the new color screen turn on and icons line the home page of our Apple OS. The best and most exciting feature was that we could begin writing our press releases, go back to any part of the release by clicking the mouse feature, copy text and paste it anywhere in the body of the release and save it on an external disk that we could share with our colleagues. Wow! that was huge then and it dramatically increased our office's productivity. We could now create boilerplates for the end of releases that we didn't have to type each time we wrote a new press release. And while the MacIntosh was huge for communications businesses, it revolutionized every sector. Lawyers could easily adapt agreements, professors and students could enhance research papers and administrative assistants could easily organize their executive's correspondence. It's ironic that Boomers can best appreciate Steve Jobs by looking into their past, given that he was all about the future. But even someone as visionary as Jobs, I think, would admit that the best way to figure out where you're going is to know where you've been.     

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