Thursday, July 15, 2010

Let's Be Pirates!

Have I ever told you about the day I almost met Steve Jobs? I know it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but I kid you not. Ahhh, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the spring of 1989. I was just a freshman at the University of Cincinnati and a computer science major, pursuing my goal of becoming a programming superstar. (We all know how that turned out!) Jobs was scheduled to speak at an on-campus colloquium touting his new line of NeXT computers, and apparently my FORTRAN (yes, FORTRAN) professor thought highly enough of me to invite me along. But what did I do? Dumb kid that I was, I blew it off and never went! Now you're probably wondering what this has to do with anything. Well, about a month ago I watched a favorite movie of mine, Pirates of Silicon Valley (yes, I do own it), which of course made me long for those glorious childhood days I spent exploring the holy trinity of home computers: Commodore, Apple, and Atari. It also prompted both the memory above and a reading of Jeffrey S. Young's iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. This book takes you from Jobs's early days of phone-phreaking ("completing calls by playing certain frequencies of tones into telephone receivers") to Apple's lowly beginnings in his parents' garage to his unceremonious ousting from the company he co-founded and beyond. And all along that gloriously bumpy road you're riding shotgun, witness to both Jobs's legendary ability to inspire those around him and his equally legendary tirades and tantrums. Personal facts abound as well, such as Jobs's relationships with his daughter Lisa, his wife Laurene, and his sister, bestselling novelist Mona Simpson (betcha didn't know that one...neither did I). So, whether you're a closet nerd like me or you'd simply like to know more about the man behind the gadgets you can't live without, give iCon a spin. It's one heck of a ride, and I trust that it's not over yet! 

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