26 replies
  1. rugger9 says:

    He will be missed, because when he was running things there was more coherence in Apple’s conduct, combined with the visionary aspect. When he wasn’t running things, one or the other element was missing.

    God speed.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Glad to think that he was surrounded by family, and I sincerely hope their privacy is respected.

    I think of him as immortal, because so much of his spirit remains alive in the world.

    (The Guardian has some thoughtful, retrospective coverage.)

  3. Rirer Capital says:

    Let us all shed hot tears for a man who headed an entity that was one of the planet’s largest slave labor(including children) users. Let us also choke back sobs when we consider he, like Gates, used financial muscle to subvert and, at the same time, discover avenues to make copyright law more exploitable for his, and Apple shareholders(bien sur), benefit. Everything Occupy Wall Street protests Jobs embodied in excess. Nice to see the Gilded Age “Cult of the Entrepreneur” is alive and well with the emptywheel commentariat. Liberal tears over a slave master and information authoritarian! May his Slave Holding spirit endure forever! (At least emptywheel’s obit was ambivalent.) Not trolling. Cancer is a horrible thing. I tend to think exploiting other humans(especially children) and working to control access to media(information) by proliferating price points is evil. Let his family and friends mourn him. Outpourings of grief for a Corporate Star(CEO, Billionaire, Slave Holder, etc) by complete strangers is reminiscent of crowds whooping it up after Bin Laden was assassinated. It is a kind of jingoism.

    Love your work Marcy. Hope everyone doesn’t think I’m a douchebag.

  4. bmaz says:

    @Rirer Capital:

    First off, I put the post up, not Marcy, so you can focus your bile on and blame me. Nobody is perfect, and neither was Jobs. Frankly, I love the innovation and products that were the direct results of his talents; if you don’t then whatever, that is your right. It does seem a bit overwrought and whiny to scold people for having thoughts about a – gasp – public person when he passes.

  5. Rirer Capital says:


    I appreciate the correction.

    Adulation towards a slave holding, offshoring labor CEO is a bit odd on a site that champions civil liberties. It is akin to an American Abolitionist in the 1850’s penning a tearful obit for a Southern Plantation owner. “Sure he had slaves, but his talent and innovation produced the sweetest Tobacco leaves!”

    It is far more bilious and cynical to overlook the inhumanity Apple practiced in Asia to yield greater profits and consumer diversion.

    “Nobody is perfect.” Nice strawman. Enjoying the products of slave labor is not as blameworthy as championing the man who led his company in exploiting it with zeal. I believe Corporate parasites who exploit laborers(some children)for profit are abhorrent.

    His “innovation” and “talent” was in mainlining technology other companies(IBM, etc) already had but failed to promote properly. Jobs was a master of promotion. His products have not furthered civilization one iota. His main talents were in exploiting slave labor(many children) and copyright law. I am glad your enjoyment as a consumer ranks above the suffering his inhuman assembly lines caused. A Chinese girl leaped out of a window to escape the horrors. No mawkish tears from you over her death. She wasn’t a famous billionaire who made billions exploiting many like her for the diversion of sensitive consumers like you.

    I was having thoughts about the real suffering this “public person” created in far away lands, that still endure, while he lived. Pardon my honest thoughts.


    Gaspar Franks

  6. Bay State Librul says:

    @Rirer Capital:

    “He was a the 21st century’s enlightened technological despot, an uncompromising creator who was motivated as much by the spirit of disruption of 60s counter culture as he was by the magic of techonology.

    So much will be said of Jobs’ contribution to American business, culture and technology, in these pages and elsewhere. But what might be his most lasting contribution is his clarity of individual vision. He was notorious for never using focus group testing and data when developing his products. It was all within him somehow. His is a loss, especially for a country reeling for homegrown ingenuity, that will be impossible to replace.” Obit

    Thought you were a bit harsh on Bmaz.

    “Arise and drink your bliss! For everthing that lives is holy”
    William Blake

  7. MadDog says:

    I wonder just how often we’ll see in the MSM a “too cute by half” association of “Steve Jobs” with the word “Iconic”?

  8. MadDog says:

    @Rirer Capital:

    “…Hope everyone doesn’t think I’m a douchebag.”

    Can we have a show of hands? Thanks!

    Nope, everyone does indeed think you’re a douchebag.

  9. Rirer Capital says:


    Interesting concern for Asian Slave Labor abuse is considered “rude” on a blog promoting civil liberties and justice? This is also a blog that criticizes the expansion of corporatist power. Steve Jobs as Chairman of Apple, Inc. headed an entity that exploited workers to the degree that many were poisoned in plants producing gadgets for Western Consumers and Apple REFUSED to spend a penny to save them from dying.

    Fire up your search engines and read about some of the “innovative” and “talented” labor policies Apple, Inc. profited from in Asia. Employees were forced to sign “No Suicide Pacts”, etc. I just hope it doesn’t stop you sensitive types from enjoying iPods, iPads, and iPhones. Consumer appreciation outweighs slave labor’s misery!

  10. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: Eh, I think it is important to be honest about Jobs’ legacy. I’m a bit more skeptical about his business model (though maybe not his design brilliance). But it is very important to note that Jobs has also made precisely the kind of capitalism that is choking America sexy again.

  11. John Casper says:

    No one will dispute that he was a great engineer.

    I remember what the white supremacist blogs did to Steve Gilliard when he passed. When William F. #Ineverapologized4defendingsegregation Buckley died, Jane wouldn’t let people rip him, until after he was buried. #bythenitwasoldnews

    Even the anti-union press understood the issues. He brought that magnificent engineering to market in-expensively. It doesn’t help me make my point, but the fact is that the low cost helped a lot of people get around the MSM.

    From TIME Magazine: “Another Slavery Scandal in China” http://tinyurl.com/3fbytyf‏ From the Wall Street Journal: “Measuring the Human Cost of an iPad Made in China” http://tinyurl.com/6ewg4pd‏ From Electrical Engineering Times: “Apple reveals increasing Chinese child-labor problem” http://tinyurl.com/3j5f2d4‏

    The canonization by the Oligarchs/MSM imho has a double edge. First, it’s a failing attempt to suck oxygen away from OWS. 2nd, it reinforces their Ayn Rand theme.

    ew, check for $40 ($20/month) is in the mail. You should get it tomorrow. Sorry it isn’t more.

  12. John Casper says:

    bmaz, much appreciated. My regrettable lack of commenting has to do with other factors, completely unconnected to the ongoing quality of emptywheel.net

  13. MadDog says:

    @Rirer Capital: Yup, that’s what we all like to have for our breakfast; a big helping of hypocrisy scrambled with a side of feigned virtue.

    Unless you are wearing a hairshirt made out of your own hair, I suspect you are wearing clothes made by some of those very third world exploited people you purport to sympathize with.

    Unless you are magically appearing here by telekinesis, I suspect you are using some type of device with computer chips in it. Made by some of those very third world exploited people you purport to sympathize with.

    There are probably thousands of things you own or use that are made by the very same corporatists you purport to decry. The dye in your clothes probably comes from Dupont. Your toothpaste from Procter & Gamble. The car you drive (or the bicycle if you’re really a Birkenstocker) is made from steel likely from a third world country or at least from iron ore mines that have horrific environmental records.

    And we won’t even mention all of the petroleum-based products that you use produced by the titans of greed, those supremely corporatist oil companies.

    Yeah, other than that, you are a noble worshipper of Gaia with a mission to educate the rest of us on how to be better angels.

    Yeah, right.

    P.S. – I have never owned anything from Apple. No Ipod, no Ipad, no Iphone, no Macintosh or the current version of Apple computer.

  14. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: I have no disagreement with you on the honesty about legacy discussion.

    As you know, my working habitat for over 30 years has been in the enemy’s camp of Microsoft. And I no more believe in the “Bill Gates is doG!” than I do in Steve Jobs as the savior leading us to the technology promised land.

  15. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    @MadDog: Time for me to slap a high-five for that comment. And I say that as an avid, 20+ year owner of all things Mac-related.

    And as for ‘Rifer’: Jobs wasn’t the a$$hole running the Senate Banking Committee in the late 90s that allowed derivatives, then put them on steroids by allowing them to be opaque.

    Jobs ran a company; he didn’t spend his days dreaming up legislation to enable derivatives and suck up to Wall Street campaign coffers.

    If Rifer wants to dump sh!t on someone, he’d be more strategic to go to the sources: the Phil Gramm, R-Tx/Enron/BigOil. The Richard Shelby, R-AL who was at the helm during the rollback of Glass Steagall. Hell, even Larry Summers and Rubin had more to do with the creation of laws enabling tax secrecy jurisdictions, opaque financial derivatives, etc than Jobs ever did. Jobs had to play by the crappy rules that a pack of neoliberal, neoclassical whackadoodles dreamed up from 1980 onward.

    The things you bitch about were enabled by corrupt politicians, enacting corrupting, economically bogus legislation. None of that was Steve Jobs’ fault.

    There is nothing about the process of producing an iPad that required that tax havens in the Caymans be allowed to host blind trusts. Nor is there anything about creating a Mac that required better offshoring to the Jersey Islands.


  16. person1597 says:

    It’s tough to comment about a person I never met.

    That said, for all the hoopla, Jobs seemed more of an iconoclast than an icon. He used talented people to accomplish his goals and was undeterred by norms and boundaries of conventional wisdom.

    Who will laud the incubator(s) that gave birth to the phenomenon? I’m talking about Xerox PARC whose Alto system was the inspiration for the Mac and Windows PC. How about Atari? How about Western Design Center (maker of the groundbreaking 6502 microprocessor used in all sorts of products of that era — including the Apple II.) These critical-path entities shaped the lives and dreams of many so-called Silicon Valley “icons”.

    There is much common history experienced by these uncommon people. The idea was to bring technology to “everyman” in a way that made it more democratic — no one should be excluded from using these powerful new tools just because they didn’t know bits from bytes.

    I remember the zeitgeist of the late sixties and early seventies. The personal computer changed how people regarded technology. Mainframes and minicomputers were weapons of the elite. Personal computers brought that computational power to the masses and a quiet revolution was unleashed. Maybe we should thank the inventors of the microprocessor for that.

    Some think Apple invented the computer “mouse”. Not exactly. The mouse was long in use at PARC and evolved from it’s cousin, the trackball. Apple hired an outside design firm to design and fabricate the device for the Lisa and Mac computers. You can read about that on the various mouse-Wiki posts. My old roommate from school did the industrial design but gets little credit for it. Nor does anyone really care (except me — I can say, “I knew him when”!).

    I’m saddened at the passing of Mr. Jobs. He struck me as kind of a jerk, but you know, he did alot of good for alot of people by making the computer more of an appliance than a inscrutable, unknowable, impersonal pile of hardware and software. I’m still a PC guy because I like the ubiquity and openness of that platform. I’m impressed by the Apple products because they cater to the needs of the layman through good performance, good customer service, and above all, an emphasis on good industrial design.

    Is there a dark side to this “triumph of the spirit” (through technology)? Perhaps so, as the enslavement of those who depend on technology for their livelihood becomes a black hole for the enlightenment of the soul. In contemporary times, maybe yes, the Redeemer is now the Master of our destinies as we become so dependent on the methods and machines to regulate our lives. The machines are not immortal, nor should they be. Only Nature promulgates life without ceasing. Man has mistakenly been co-opted into a system of knowledge that purports a mental solution to what can best be described as “living problems”.

    Nature is interested in only two things – to survive and to reproduce one like itself. Anything you superimpose on that, all the cultural input, is responsible for the boredom of man.

    But they probably felt something similar about the telephone. Or the radio. Or TV. Or alternating current. Really, it is all about communication. Sharing information is a big deal amongst living organisms. I dare say, it always will be. We’re married to a technological world “for better or for worse”. The better part is that we can chat on this blog. The worse part is that our lives are even more dependent of some cultural powerhouse to maintain the status-quo. That, above all, troubles me.

  17. bmaz says:


    Excellent comment; very thoughtful and thought provoking. I love Apple products, my family has all of them with the exception of an iPad, which I didn’t have because, well, I had an Air and it is basically an I pad with a keyboard cover. Will probably get my daughter one for Christmas.

    At any rate, my love is purely one of design and functionality. I have had PCs, they work too. Just not as elegantly and cleanly, and do not look anywhere near as stylish and smooth doing so. There is something to be said for that. Long before computers were an everyday item for people I have been into automobiles. The best designers and engineers did not invent the auto, nor most of the components that comprise it. But they made it better integrated, safer, smoother and more appealing to own and use. Jobs did that with tech in a way that few others, if any, have.

  18. person1597 says:

    How did the Apple/Microsoft mouse come into being?

    Mighty Mouse

    Like many practical products — a triumph of the unrelenting perseverance of visionary men and women. (Like the good folks here at emptywheel.)

    Funny, with all our underlying technology, it’s still all about the user experience. Underneath the veneer, it’s the content that counts.

    Long live bloggers!

  19. JohnLopresti says:

    The 6502 was an important design and scale. When Steve Jobs was looking for help, realizing the garage was going to be even more cramped quarters, we had a discussion about the vision for bringing computational functionality to every person. It really was a changer of the social milieu. Steve saw it; the then Wall Street Journal would not admit on page one what was occurring with the new availability of an 8-bit central processing unit chip such as the 6502, but WSJ had some brilliant economic technology reporters who, on p.4 at first, were telling the business world’s entrepreneurs about the 6502’s promise, and the anticipated unique pricepoint, the ease of writing code in small chunks, the whole scope of cyberintelligence Woz captured so well in the subsequent breadborded machines based on 6502 assembly language. There’s lots more, but I appreciated “1597’s” reminder, in the comment above in the thread. Lots of experimental folks at ibM, xrox, and other places, all were trying to get to the same place as the 2 steves and homebrew; so, it was a colloquy, an important first implementation, too, of things students had talked about in the spring time, working on the basis of a diversely owned media, correlating the reported, the studied, and the monolithic visages of bureaucracies. 8 bits were going to be a datapath much better than the 4 bit pongworld prototypes. Steve was part of the ‘fire in the Valley’ h/t M.Swaine et al., and I think he got singed talking with me a few times. I had agrarian employment to pursue and no time to delve beyond the peculiar myths of the outfit Meg Whitman just got hired to administer. ibM finally leapt over the retaining wall, too, around that time, enunciating a vision which remarkably resembled cloud computing, redux all over again; though ibM code was so exquisitely organized like a classical language. After about ten tagging-along years in various university courses, I decided that 6502 assembler was not a linguistic exercise, nor the cure for too many lame philosophic doldrum imbued writers whom I read in core curricula; so, the manuals got given to a school, with my best wishes; 6502 was for the folks who really wanted to write assembler at midnight. And thanx to all of them. Though Jobs was not a coder. He just knew; the students saw how to improve the world; he was an interface designer, in my reference. He was much more to friends of mine. I did not know him, except those few talks.

  20. JohnLopresti says:

    Adding to [email protected]: And Jobs brought “32” bit processing to the desktop by employing the 68000 chip, and commissioned his programmers to produce the 1 million lines of code comprising the Mac OS just 7 years after the 6502 appeared in a desktop computer. At the time in 1982 ibM and Msft still were writing workarounds for 16-bit CPUs; no way they could compete with the capabiliies of the 68000’s bandwidth by comparison. There was tech talk at the time, more literary than scientific, which recognized that some mysterious divide had led Jobs’ outfit to prefer chips in the “6” nomenclature, while ibM churned away at OS’s based on chips like 8080 et seq. with “8” in the chip’s name. I am sure Dvorak knows why the disparate companies standardized on 6’s and 8’s. It’s now ancient history, though; and Intel fabricated a different world with its silicon artistry which is the basis of modern computers. This note ain’t going to give credit to intel’s competitors here, however,in 2011.

  21. JohnJ says:


    Ha, a little esoteric note here; I think we would have reached the point in uP’s we are now a lot faster if Jobs and Woz had liked the crappy Intel chips and IBM had gone with the far superior Motorola chips.

    Intel just kept throwing transistors and silicon at the crappy 8080 design using the gobs of money they made off the PCs to get where they are today. The whole Motorola line was a far less convoluted than, and better thought out than anything Intel produced at the time. (BTW, I always thought the 6502 was designed at Rockwell by defectors from Motorola’s 6800 programs. Are my memory cells aging?)

    I spent a little time in the bowels of a Supercomputer prototype (with a logic probe!) and the 68000 series already had a lot of the same line of design in it. In fact we used a 68000 to run the I/O section, while ironically we actually used an Apple II to download the test programs into the mainframe’s program memory. (Time frame was the release of the crappy 80286).

    This whole thing has always reminded me of what the boss said of his friend Cray; “he just froze an IBM 360, I have the architecture”.

    The 5% or so market share that the technologically superior Mac has suffered is, and was due to Jobs ego.

    But this is ignoring the rest of what apple accomplished under Jobs.

    The great question is, would Woz’s design engineering genius have gone as far without the business drive of Jobs? Would IBM have even attempted to hit the PC market if Apple hadn’t made it famous? (BTW DOS was just a 16 bit port of CP/M, and Gates had nothing to do with CP/M!)

  22. pdaly says:

    I remember the fun I had playing with all the fonts available on Apple computers in the mid and late 1980s.
    Then it was sometime in the 1990s , when Apple was in decline and seemed to be disappearing from the earth, that I heard Jobs disparage Microsoft (I think it may have been the 1996 Charlie Rose Show):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upzKj-1HaKw (this youtube clip for some reason has a delay between voice and video)

    I was struck by Jobs’ mention of ‘proportionally spaced fonts’ and’ typesetting from beautiful books’ and realized that Jobs was inspired by beauty and art. From that point forward I was hoping Apple would make a come back. Fortunately it did (and unfortunately for me, I didn’t buy any of Apple’s $5 per share stock).

    This article speaks to the same aspect of Jobs’ search for beauty. And check out the first picture in the article–the photo is of Jobs’ head silhouetted in front of the Apple logo.

    Jobs and Pixar has been a boon to entertainment and great storytelling, made possible by George Lucas selling off George’s computer animation division of Skywalker studios to Jobs. Like ‘person 1597′ mentioned above, Jobs benefitted from the incubators that existed in close proximity to Jobs’ environment. Perhaps preservation of this concentration of abundance of riches should be the end of life project for all icons/iconoclasts whom have benefited from such in their own careers.

    This summer I read about poorly paid, overworked/chemically overexposed Chinese factory workers, responsible for producing Apple products, jumping to their deaths to escape their contracts. The ‘I promise not to commit suicide’ forms factory workers were encouraged to sign were disturbing as well, as Rirer Capital mentioned above.

    I hope that Jobs gave some thought about this in his remaining weeks of life. Or perhaps his family or coworkers will do this and make amends and changes for the better, including bringing back to America jobs for jobless Americans. Imagine how “insanely great” that would be.

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