Steve Jobs (1955–) & Steve Wozniak (1953–)
|Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are not Hitchhikers in the Valley of Heart's Delight this summer.*|
SEVENTIES SYNCRETIC COLLABO-VISION
The Seventies were a syncretic decade, the freedom of the Sixties plus a postmodern cynicism and marketing craftiness, that then bloated (like women's shoulder pads) into the businesslike Eighties. Seventies boyz Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were a rock n' roll collaboration. As other garages housed Punk rockers, these two--an intensely disciplined marketing nerd and a technologically adept playful hippie throwbackgot into computers. In the Homebrew Computer Club they rubbed shoulders with older engineers and younger acolytes, all absorbing both technical acumen and cool-kid buzz. With electronic parts filched from their summer jobs at Hewlett-Packard, Steve and Steve's first Apple Computer was the Teisco guitar (OK, Ford Model T) of personal computers.
Wozniak sunk his fortune into a rock festival, then a symphony orchestra, and turned his attention to early education. The story of how Jobs lost, than regained, his corporation is a heroic struggle like that of Odysseus. Jobs' successor as Apple CEO (in the three years I labored there) was John Sculley. Trying his darnedest to be a Silicon Valley visionary too, Sculley's tame book shouldn't have been called Odyssey, merely Events. Steve's impossible return meant the importance of good designand that Barnumesque ol' marketing savvyruled again, first with candy-colored iMacs, then convenient iPods.
Once when I complained to my wife that the prices in Palo Alto Whole Foods Market were too yuppie for me, I looked over to the next checkout and there were Mr. & Mrs. Steve Jobs. Following the 2000 Apple Stockholders' meeting, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison carelessly crossed busy DeAnza Boulevard, and these top dogs' Type-A rivalry was evident as each one trying to stay a couple steps ahead of his friend as they distractedly chatted and plotted; I noted how a speeding truck might have changed the course of the industry.
Is this collaborative project with Julie Newdoll and
Jim Pallas like a band? A virtual construct like the Monkees, Archies
or Gorillaz? An album assembled from afar track by track? A short-lived
supergroup like Blind Faith?
* Although Wozniak and Jobs have a special historical connection to the author of this page, Mike Mosher, they are not from the same time period as the pioneers we set on the road. In the words of our engineer, Mario Wolczko, "I like this project because it honors some of the (mostly unsung) inventors and engineers whose breakthroughs and business skills made Silicon Valley possible. Ask the person in the street for a name they associate with Silicon Valley today, and it will most likely be a businessman: Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, maybe; I bet quite a few people will name Bill Gates, even though Redmond is nearly a thousand miles away. Ask again, what is the dominant industry of Silicon Valley, and they'll most likely answer 'computers' or 'software'. But the Valley's 'core competence' is electronics, and the pioneers we celebrate as hitchhikers were electronic engineers. Each, in his own way, helped shaped what the Valley does, and how it does it."