The Origin of Everything is Shrouded in Mystery – looking at Apple’s history yields many clues, however…
PART I of a 3 PART SERIES:
Given the sheer size, breadth and power of the various “Tech Giants” as they have become known, many, if not most would be skeptical if an assertion were put forth that all of them were a direct product or outgrowth of Apple.
Although there is almost constant complaining that Apple is not the innovator it once was, or that they sell overpriced and overrated products, with more marketing than substance, tracing back through the history of tech a very different story emerges. Further, all the way to the present a pattern holds true that traces all big tech back to Apple in a direct route from at least 1984 or earlier.
The whole story is long and somewhat hidden; and it diverges from the accepted notions of how the massive empires of tech came about. In the end it is almost impossible not to see the behemoths now known as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others as little more than incidental occurrences, spawned the wake of Apple’s growth and innovation.
Apple is an entirely different company from what it seems from the point of view of the masses & the media. For example, just as now we have Biden vs. Trump we once had Jobs vs. Gates. You can decide which is which. Perhaps today it seems like a stretch, but up until around 1998 the two were considered opposites and as compatible as oil vs. water.
There have always been a huge number of people who are offended by the high-price high-quality ethos that Steve Jobs created and that the company carries forward to this day.
Much like Tesla owners are heckled by Toyota, Ford and Chevy pick-up truck owners, Apple has always had an army of detractors. And while for many years it was Windows / PC users now it is Android and Samsung. But if you set aside the Apple-derangement Syndrome, sister affliction to the fabled “Reality Distortion Field” there are some fascinating theories that could be put forth showing that Apple and Steve Jobs are the ultimate source of all tech since the Garden of Eden, or at least the 70s.
[Readers note: there are many accepted truths and fabled stories that will be addressed in this article. These are, at times considered “fact” and at other times questioned openly. If it bothers you when either of those choices are made to suit the narrative, you may, of course, opt-out at any time. All attempts have been made to remain true to historical fact, but no claims or guarantees are made of perfection.]
In The Beginning there was… XEROX?
In the beginning there was Xerox Parc. From that private think-tank of a copy-machine company emerged two incredible discoveries; the Graphical-User-Interface (GUI) and the Mouse (mouse). In the fable Steve Jobs is invited to visit in late 1979, to gather knowledge from the computer scientists and R&D gurus and later decides to “steal” everything he sees. Xerox, on the other hand, continues to believe that copy machines are the real future.
This fable / anecdote is often used to illustrate that Steve Jobs and Apple deserve no credit for the ultimate ubiquity of the software that emerged from the GUI concept and, the mouse that came about cause of the… mouse. It is also said, or at least implied, that Microsoft was fully justified in stealing anything and everything they could from Apple software innovations because “Steve did it first to Xerox”. These kinds of rationalizations are the reason why Apple is still, to this day, not recognized as the source for all tech in the universe.
The more accurate take on this origin story is that Steve Jobs was the first to recognize the ultimate importance of the GUI and mouse combo (after all Xerox never made any real commercially viable attempt to make and market the discoveries from its own R&D) and that the future of the tech world would be built on the bedrock of these early innovations.
“…In fact, turning expensive, hard-to-use, precision instruments into cheap, mass-producible, and reliable commercial products requires its own ingenuity and creativity. This marketplace intelligence is different from, but not inferior to, the intelligence of the laboratory; it just gets far less attention by journalists and historians. In the case of the relationship between the work at PARC and the development of the Macintosh, this blindness leads us to underestimate the originality of Apple’s own work, and the differences between the Alto and Macintosh. “— Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of “Making the Macintosh“
Further, at the time Bill Gates was madly in love with the wonders of MS-Dos and in particular the money he could bank in licensing it to IBM and all bidders… It was only years later in 1985 when he famously decided to steal the GUI_ Mouse based system software apple was using, in spite of his promises to refrain from stealing when he was shown the secrets during his fabled meeting with Steve Jobs to discuss word and excel, early versions of which were already on the Macintosh. Hence the echos of “Steve did it first to Xerox” became the rallying cry for all those that seemed to justify the direct theft of Macintosh OS to create the clunky-named system called “Windows”.
This story carried on throughout the 80s and 90s and, all the while, a 1988 lawsuit was pending resolution, which has at its center the accusation, by Apple, that Windows 1, released in November 1985, was directly copied, a.k.a. inspired by the Macintosh OS. In the end, in another famous fabled incident, the suit was settled out of court in 1997, by then obscenely rich Bill Gates, for $150 million, thus rescuing Apple from almost certain Bankruptcy.
Moral of the story? Windows, PC’s and everything Microsoft ever became, can be directly traced back to Apple. This is the most obvious of the various lines of creative attribution leading back to Apple and Steve Jobs.
The next saga: Google’s connection and the debt owed to Anti-trust and Apple, will be more subtle but all the more timely. Timely as in right now this minute. Stay tuned for Volume II of “How Apple Created the Entire Tech Universe and it Finally Makes Sense”
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