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David H. Freedman’s Ridiculous Steve Jobs Editorial

I have been casually (sometimes painfully) reading through Discover magazines year-end issue featuring “100 Top Stories of 2011”. I read magazines in an illogical order, so it has taken a while for me to get to Top Story #8: “The Man Who Gave Us Less For More” by David H. Freeman. I’ve probably read Mr. Freedman’s work before, but I’m not overtly familiar with him. Regardless, if the top story from 2011 is referring to Steve Jobs’s death, the title alone is a pretty insulting way to reference it.

Read it for yourself, but here are some of the main points of this ridiculous rant that attempts to make Steve Jobs look like a man that sells snake oil:

Original Macintosh

“What did this pretty beige box offer that a hundred other computers didn’t already offer, besides a higher price, much less choice in software and no compatibility with the rest of the world’s devices?”

Well, for starters, it had the first really successful, useful, graphical user interface powered by a mouse. This change in UI was so good and apparently successful that Microsoft made a really bad copy of it. I’m sure in your list of features and bang-for-buck you aren’t giving this important accomplishment much value. I just don’t see how, as an honest technology journalist, you can brush off the Macintosh as overpriced crap. Are you still working sans mouse today?

Apple Lisa

“Who remembers the Apple Lisa, a chunky desktop that sold for $9,995 in1983?”

OK. So the Lisa was a financial failure and a technological dead end thanks to the success of the Macintosh (see above). The price? Well, nobody put a gun to your head. Besides, Steve Jobs was kicked off of the Lisa team and as a result worked on the Macintosh. (see above)

Apple Newton

“Who remembers the Newton, a $700 PDA/paperweight?”

Try doing some research. You are conflating Steve Jobs with Apple. Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985. The Newton project was started in 1987. One of the first things Jobs did after becoming the Apple CEO in 1997 was kill the Newton.

NeXT

“Then there was the NeXT computer, to which Jobs devoted a decade of his life … starting at $6,500, Jobs sold only 50,000 units ever.”

Yes, the NeXT computers never sold well, but you make it sound like Jobs wasted a decade of his life on a complete failure. Maybe you didn’t know this – again, research – but the NeXT operating system was more highly regarded than the hardware. So much so that, when Apple was circling the drain after failing to build their own next-gen operating system, they purchased NeXT. This purchase is how Steve Jobs returned to Apple and also how Apple ended up with the operating system that it runs today. Without Steve Jobs’s return and that operating system – now called OSX – Apple wouldn’t exist today.

iPod

At this point you actually start giving Steve credit for creating something useful. But you still go on to piss and moan about paying higher prices for prettier things like Apple products have no real value above the competition. Never mind that you say this at a time when the rest of the consumer computer companies are struggling to build iPad and MacBook Air knock-offs at the same price point as Apple.

Discover magazine should be ashamed of themselves for publishing this misguided, lazy and factually incorrect editorial as though it were objective journalism. It makes me question everything else I read in their magazine.