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Apple, Mac and nuclear

October 23, 2011

Ben Rosen, former Compaq Chairman now an avid Apple user and evangelist, shares his personal memories of Steve Jobs back to the very beginning of Apple. It’s worth a read, the things you’ll probably won’t find in Walter Isaacson’s bio of Steve.

Ben on how Apple II wowed everyone back then in just one demo:

I opened a beta version of VisiCalc, the world’s first practical spreadsheet. …..  I populated the rows and columns with a financial model (something that bankers could understand), changed the value of one cell, then hit the recalc key. The value of every cell in the worksheet was instantly recalculated. “Wow” resounded throughout the room. They had never seen anything like this before. Their resistance melted, their approval was given, and a Morgan Stanley check was cut to purchase one Apple II for me.

The simple things people hadn’t thought about before at that time, is happening all over again with the iPhone and iPad today. Just one simple word to explain what Apple is throughout times: “Wow”.

And how the Mac computers could have been named differently:

 “We have a crisis looming,” Jobs told Rosen, from the back of the room. “We’ve got to decide what to call Mac. We could call it Mac, Apple IV, Rosen I. How’s Mac strike you?”

“Throw thirty million dollars of advertising at it,” Rosen said, “and it will sound great.”

Ben also told a story of how the young Steve had a lot of passions besides Apple:

 But rather than tout the greatness of Apple, or the potential of personal computers, or anything material or mundane , Steve spoke passionately for 40 minutes on one subject — the dangers of nuclear warfare. That was it.

The audience, needless to say, was dumbfounded. Steve spoke, took no questions, and sat down.

So when Steve said that he’s willing to go thermonuclear war against Google on Android, he was really angry and really-really mean it. Oh Steve, you crazy you, we miss you.

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