Tag Archives: Rebellion

Halt and Catch Fire – the TV series about innovation (without Silicon Valley and start-ups)

I will always remember the day when one of my former bosses told me I should focus on (watching, making) videos rather than (reading, writing) books. I am a book person so I will probably not follow his advice ! Still from time to time I discover movies about High-tech innovation and entrepreneurship, start-ups.

Halt and Catch Fire is not precisely about start-ups, it is not a documentary, it is not a movie. It is a TV series that is certainly more serious (and less fun) than HBO’s Silicon Valley. It is an interesting accident that I began watching it while reading Isaacson’s the Innovators. Both talk about the early days of Personal Computers in a (rather) dramatic manner.

I am still in the beginning of Season 1 so my comments come as much from what I read as from what I saw! Halt and Catch Fire takes place in Texas (not in Silicon Valley), in an established company, Cardiff Electric (not a start-up) where three individuals who should probably have never met, a sales man, an engineer and a geek (not entrepreneurs) will try to prove to the world that they can change it. So why Texas? According to French Wikipedia: “Season 1 (which takes place in 1983-198) is inspired by the creation of Compaq launched in 1982 to develop the first IBM-compatible portable PC. Compaq engineers had to reverse engineer by disassembling the IBM BIOS to make a compatible version rewritten by people who had never seen the IBM BIOS in order not to violate copyrights.” (My Compaq cap. table below.)

Scoot McNairy as Gordon Clark, Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe and Lee Pace as Joe MacMillan - Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

Scoot McNairy as Gordon Clark, Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe and Lee Pace as Joe MacMillan – Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 1, Gallery – Photo Credit: James Minchin III/AMC

I should credit Marc Andreessen for helping me discovering this new AMC TV series. In a long portrait by the New Yorker, the Netscape founder mentions the series: “He pushed a button to unroll the wall screen, then called up Apple TV. We were going to watch the final two episodes of the first season of the AMC drama “Halt and Catch Fire,” about a fictional company called Cardiff, which enters the personal-computer wars of the early eighties. The show’s resonance for Andreessen was plain. In 1983, he said, “I was twelve, and I didn’t know anything about startups or venture capital, but I knew all the products.” He used the school library’s Radio Shack TRS-80 to build a calculator for math homework.” […] “The best scenes with Cameron were when she was alone in the basement, coding.” I said I felt that she was the least satisfactory character: underwritten, inconsistent, lacking in plausible motivation. He smiled and replied, “Because she’s the future.”

According to Wikipedia’s article about the series, “the show’s title refers to computer machine code instruction HCF, the execution of which would cause the computer’s central processing unit to stop working (“catch fire” was a humorous exaggeration).” It the series is not about entrepreneurship and start-ups so far, it is about rebellion, mutiny. There is a beautiful moment where one of the heroes convince his two colleagues to follow when they are about to stop. They are on quest.


I haven’t seen many movies and videos about my favorite topic so let me try and recapitulate:
– I began with Something Ventured, a documentary about the early days of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
The Startup Kids is another documentary about young (mostly) web entrepreneurs. Often very moving.
HBO’s Silicon Valley is funnier than HFC but maybe not as good. Only time will say.
– I saw The Social Network which seems to remain the best fiction movie about all this, but
– I have not seen the two movies about Steve Jobs. It’s apparently not worth watching Jobs (2013) but I will probably try not to miss Steve Jobs (2015)

So as a conclusion, watch the trailer.

The Compaq Capitalization Table at IPO


The Innovators by Walter Isaacson – part 3: (Silicon) Valley

Innovation is about business models – the Atari case

Innovation in (Silicon) Valley: after the chip, innovation saw the arrival of games, software and the Internet “As they were working on the first Computer Space consoles, Bushnell heard that he had competition. A Stanford grad named Bill Pitts and his buddy Hugh Tuck from California polytechnic had become addicted to Spacewar, and they decided to use a PDP-11 minicomputer to turn it into an arcade game. […] Bushnell was contemptuous of their plan to spend $20,000 on equipment, including a PDP-11 that would be in another room and connected by yards of cable to the console, and then charge ten cents a game. “I was surprised at how clueless they were about the business model,” he said. “Surprised and relieved. As soon as I saw what they were doing, I knew they’d be no competition”.
Galaxy Game by Pitts and Tuck debuted at Stanford’s Tresidder student union coffeehouse in the fall of 1971. Students gathered around each night like cultists in front of a shrine. But no matter how many lined up their coins to play, there was no way the machine could pay for itself, and the venture eventually folded. “Hugh and I were both engineers and we didn’t pay attention to business issues at all,” conceded Pitts. Innovation can be sparked by engineering talent, but it must be combined with business skills to set the world afire.
Bushnell was able to produce his game, Computer Space, for only $1,000. It made its debut a few weeks after Galaxy Game at the Dutch Goose bar in Menlo Park near Palo Alto and went on to sell a respectful 1,500 unites. Bushnell was the consummate entrepreneur: inventive, good at engineering, and savvy about business and consumer demand. He was also a great salesman. […] When he arrived back at Atari’s little rented office in Santa Clara, he described the game to Alcorn [Atari’s co-founder], sketched out some circuits, and asked him to build the arcade version of it. He told Acorn he had signed a contract with GE to make the game, which was untrue. Like many entrepreneurs, Bushnell had no shame about distorting reality in order to motivate people.”
[Pages 209-211]

“Innovation requires having three things: a great idea, the engineering talent to execute it, and the business savvy (plus deal-making moxie) to turn it into a successful product. Nolan Bushnell scored a trifecta when he was twenty-nine, which is why he, rather than Bill Pitts, Hugh Truck, Bill Nutting, or Ralph Baer, goes down in history as the innovator who launched the video game industry.” [page 215]

You may also so listen to Bushnell directly. This is Something Ventured and the Atari story begins at 30’07” until 36’35” (you may go on Youtube directly for the right timing).

The debate about intelligence of machines

Chapter 7 is about the beginnings of the Internet. Isaacson adddresses a topic which has come back has a hot debate these days: will machines and the computer in particular replace humans, with or despite their intelligence, creativity and innovation capabilities? I feel close to Isaacson whom I quote from page 226: “Licklider sided with Norbert Wiener, whose theory of cybernetics was based on humans and machines working closely together, rather than with their MIT colleagues Marvin Minsky and John mcCarthy, whose quest for artificial intelligence involved creating machines that could learn on their own and replace human cognition. As Licklider explained, the sensible goal was to create an environment in which humans and machines “cooperate in making decisions.” In other words,they would augment each other. “Men will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking.”

The Innovator’s dilemma

In the same chapter which tries to describe who were the inventors (more than the innovators) in the case of the Internet – J.C.R. Licklider, Bob Taylor, Larry Roberts, Paul Baran, Donald Davies, or even Leonard Kleinrock – and why it was invented – an unclear motivation between the military objective of protecting communications in case of a nuclear attack or the civilian one of helping researchers in sharing resources – Isaacson shows once again the challenge of convincing established players.

Baran then collided with one of the realities of innovation, which was that entrenched bureaucracies are resistant to change. […] He tried to convince AT&T to supplement its circuit-switched voice network with a packet-switched data network. “they fought it tooth and nail,” he recalled. “They tried all sorts of things to stop it.” [AT&T would go as far as organizing a series of seminars that would involve 94 speakers] “Now do you see why packet switching wouldn’t work?” Baran simply replied, “No”. Once again, AT&T was stymied by the innovator’s dilemma. It balked at considering a whole new type of data network because it was so invested in traditional circuits. [Pages 240-41]

[Davies] came up with a good old English word for them: packets. In trying to convince the general Post office to adopt the system, Davies ran into the same problem that Baran had knocking at the door of AT&T. But they both found a fan in Washington. Larry Roberts not only embraced their ideas; he also adopted the word packet.

The entrepreneur is a rebel (who loves power)

One hard-core hacker, Steve Dompier, told of going down to Alburquerque in person to pry loose a machine from MITS, which was having trouble fulfilling orders. By the time of the third Homebrew meeting in April 1975, he had made an amusing discovery. He had written a program to sort numbers, and while he was running it, he was listening to a weather broadcast on a low-frequency transistor radio. “The radio started going zip-zzziiip-ZZZIIIPP at different pitches », and Dompier said to himself, “Well, what do you know ! My first peripheral device!” So he experimented. “I tried some other programs to see what they sounded like, and after about eight hours of messing around, I had a program that could produce musical tones and actually make music”. [Page 310]

“Dompier published his musical program in the next issue of the People’s Computer Company, which led to a historically noteworthy response from a mystified reader. “Steven Dompier has an article about the musical program that he wrote for the Altair in the People’s Computer Company,” Bill Gates, a Harvard student on leave writing software for MITS in Albuquerque, wrote in the Altair newsletter. “The article gives a listing of his program and the musical data for ‘The Fool on the Hill’ and ‘Daisy.’ He doesn’t explain why it works and I don’t see why. Does anyone know?” the simple answer was that the computer , as it ran the programs, produced frequency interference that could be controlled by the timing loops and picked up as tone pulses by an AM radio.
By the time his query was published, Gates had been thrown into a more fundamental dispute with the Homebrew Computer Club. It became archetypal of the clash between the commercial ethic that believed in keeping information proprietary, represented by Gates [and Jobs], and the hacker ethic of sharing information freely, represented by the Homebrew crowd [and Wozniak].” [Page 311]

Isaacson, through his description of Gates and Jobs, explains what is an entrepreneur.

“Yes, Mom, I’m thinking,” he replied. “Have you ever tried thinking?” [P.314] Gates was a serial obsessor. […] he had a confrontational style [… and he] would escalate the insult to be “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” [P.317] Gates pulled a power play that would define his future relationship with Allen. As Gates describes it, “That’s when I say ‘Okay, but I’m going to be in charge. And I’ll get used to being in charge, and it’ll be hard to deal with me from now on unless I’m in charge. If you put me in charge, I’m in charge of this and anything else we do.’ ” [P.323] Like many innovators, Gates was rebellious just for the hell of it. [P.331] “An innovator is probably a fanatic, somebody who loves what they do, works day and night, may ignore normal things to some degree and therefore be viewed as a bit imbalanced. […] Gates was also a rebel with little respect for authority, another trait of innovators. [P.338]

Allen assumed that his partnership with Gates would be fifty-fifty. […] but Gates had insisted on being in charge. “It’s not right for you to get half. […] I think it should be sixty-forty.” […] Worse yet, Gates insisted on revisiting the split two years later. “I deserve more than 60 percent.” His new demand was that the split be 64-36. Born with a risk-taking gene, Gates would cut loose late at night by driving at terrifying speeds up the mountain roads. “I decided it was his way of letting off steam.” Allen said. [P.339]

Gates arrested for speeding, 1977. [P.312]

“There is something indefinable in an entrepreneur, and I saw that in Steve,“ Bushnell recalled. “He was interested not just in engineering, but also in the business aspects. I taught him that if you act like you can do something, then it will work. I told him, pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.” [P.348]

The concept of the entrepreneur as a rebel is not new. In 2004, Pitch Johnson, one of the earliest VC in Silicon Valley claimed “Entrepreneurs are the revolutionaries of our time.” Freeman Dyson has written “The Scientist as a Rebel“. And you should read Nicolas Colin’s analysis of entrepreneurial ecosystems: Capital + know-how + rebellion = entrepreneurial economy. Yes rebels who loves power…

What makes an entrepreneurial ecosystem by Nicolas Colin

Great analysis by Nicolas Colin (The Family) in his article What makes an entrepreneurial ecosystem? If the topic interests you, it is a must-read.


in a nutshell, the entrepreneurial ecosystems need 3 ingredients – I quote:
– capital: by definition, no new business can be launched without money and relevant infrastructures (which consist of capital tied up in tangible assets);
– know-how: you need engineers, developers, designers, salespeople: all those whose skills are necessary for launching and growing innovative businesses;
– rebellion: an entrepreneur always challenges the status quo. If they wanted to play by the book, they would innovate within big, established companies, where they would be better paid and would have access to more resources.

This reminds me of two “recipes” I often mention. First the “5 needed ingredients of tech. clusters”
1. Universities and research centers of a very high caliber;
2. An industry of venture capital (i.e. financial institutions and private investors);
3. Experienced professionals in high tech;
4. Service providers such as lawyers, head hunters, public relations and marketing specialists, auditors, etc.
5. Last but not least, an intangible yet critical component: a pioneering spirit which encourages an entrepreneurial culture.
in “Understanding Silicon Valley, the Anatomy of an Entrepreneurial Region”, by M. Kenney, more precisely in chapter: “A Flexible Recycling” by S. Evans and H. Bahrami

Second, Paul Graham in How to be Silicon Valley? “Few startups happen in Miami, for example, because although it’s full of rich people, it has few nerds. It’s not the kind of place nerds like. Whereas Pittsburgh has the opposite problem: plenty of nerds, but no rich people.” He also added about failed ecosystems: “I read occasionally about attempts to set up “technology parks” in other places, as if the active ingredient of Silicon Valley were the office space. An article about Sophia Antipolis bragged that companies there included Cisco, Compaq, IBM, NCR, and Nortel. Don’t the French realize these aren’t startups?”

Many toxic friends of entrepreneurial ecosystems have not understood this. But for those who have understood, building lively ecosystems remains a real challenge: bringing the rebellion, the culture, diminishing the fear of risk taking without stigmatizing (not rewarding– here I disagree with Colin) failure remains highly challenging whereas finding know-how and capital is not easy but feasible with some hard work…

Finally, I copy his diagrams which show ideal and less ideal combinations of capital, know-how and rebellion, adding my exercise for Switzerland.


Switzerland is probably 80% Germany and 20% France…


(A short addition on Oct 29, 2015) – The best description of Switzerland was given by Orson Welles. It explains a lot of things…

“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” in The Third Man, said by Holly Martins to Harry Lime.

At the Frontier of Research – the Universe and the Brain – and how Science works?

I just read two amazing books, which at first sight do not seem to have much in common, but indeed have. The first one is Time Reborn by Lee Smolin. The second one is Touching a Nerve by Patricia Churchland.


Beware Newton, Leibniz (not only Einstein) is back!

Lee Smolin revisits the current challenges of the physics of the universe – the incompatibility of general relativity and quantum physics – and tries to bring new ideas such as thinking again about what Time is. It’s not a difficult book but it is so rich with ideas, I am not sure what is the most important. His main idea is that time matters. For example, the law of physics may evolve over time. He also believes that Leibniz’s philosophy is very helpful to understand the universe. [What I remembered of Leibniz is Voltaire critics of him in Candide, with the recurrent “best of all possible worlds“]. Let me just quote Smolin: “the picture of the history of the universe given by causal relations realizes Leibniz’s dream of a universe in which time is defined completely by relations between events. Relationships are the only reality that corresponds to time – relationships of a causal sort.” [Page 58, Penguin 2014 edition]

There is something as stimulating: “Leibniz’s principle has some consequences that should constrain a cosmological theory. One is that there should be nothing in the universe that acts on other things without itself being acted upon.” [Page 116] This is the principle of no unreciprocated actions. I had learnt this when I was shocked to understand that the earth attracts me and keep me from flying, but I also attract the earth. With Einstein, matter modifies space. So if laws act on the universe and its components, then the reverse is true. Laws can evolve and Smolin thinks that this is following a Darwininian natural selection…

Smolin concludes his book with more general considerations about science and society, which are also very interesting. I had already mentioned here his previous book The Trouble with Physics. His views about science are not original but strong. For example “to be scientific, hypotheses must suggest observations by which they could be verified or falsified.” [page 247] and he indeed hates some features of politics in science. Truth is the ultimate even if unreachable goal. “Scientific communities and larger democratic societies from which they evolved, progress because their work is based by two basic principles:
(1) when rational argument from public evidence suffices to decide a question, it must be considered to be so decided,
(2) when rational argument from public evidence does not suffices to decide a question, the community must encourage a diverse range of viewpoints and hypotheses consistent with a good faith attempt to develop convincing public evidence.”
[page 248]

And I will conclude on Smolin with a final quote: “We need a new philosophy, one that anticipates the merging of the natural and the artificial by achieving a consilience of the natural and social sciences, in which human agency has a rightful place in nature. This is not relativism, in which anything we want to be true can be. To survive the challenge of climate change, it matters a great deal what is true. We must also reject both the modernist notion that truth and beauty are determined by formal criteria and the postmodern rebellion from that, according to which reality and ethics are mere social constructions. What is needed is a relationalism, according to which the future is restricted by, but not determined by, the present, so that novelty and invention are possible”. [p 257]


As a transition to the brain, I cheat here and quote Smolin one final time (promised!): “By the problem of consciousness I mean that if I describe you in all the languages physical and biological sciences make available to us, I leave something out. Your brain is a vast and highly interconnected network of roughly 100 billion cells, each of which is itself a complex system running on controlled chains of chemical reactions. I could describe this in as much detail as I wanted, and I would never come close to explaining the fact that you have an inner experience, a stream of consciousness. If I didn’t know, from my own case, that I’m conscious, my knowledge of your neural process would give me no reason to suspect that you are. […] Suppose we mapped the neuronal circuits in your brain onto silicon chips and upload your brain into a computer. Would that computer be conscious? […] Would there now be two conscious beings with your memories whose futures diverge from there.” [pages 268-69]

Patricia Churland begins her book with the “fears” that scientific research brings when you are at the frontier. “I hate the brain, I hate the brain” is what a philosopher said at a conference, maybe to explain his discomfort with the importance of biology to explain the mind processes. Churchland adds that discovering that the earth is not the center of the universe, or the heart is just a pump had similar results in society: fear and denial. But Churchland is not afraid of knowledge and of progress. “My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations”

Near the end of her book [page 240], she addresses the topic of consciousness:
In about 1989, psychologist Bernard Baars proposed a framework for research on consciousness with a view to fostering a coevolution of psychology and neurobiology.
First, […] sensory signals of which you are conscious are highly integrated and highly processed by lower-level (nonconscious) brain networks. That is, when you hear [something], you are not first conscious of a string of sounds, then conscious of figuring out how to chunk the string into words, then conscious of figuring out what the words means, then conscious of putting it all together to understand the meaning of the sentence. You hear [it]; you are aware of what [it] meant.
Second, the information stored concerning [the event] are suddenly consciously available to help you decide what to do in this novel situation. This means there must be integration of sensory signals with relevant background knowledge—with stored information.
The third important point is that consciousness has a limited capacity. You cannot follow two conversations at once, you cannot at the same time do mental long division and watch for dangerous eddies in a fast-moving river. When we think we are multitasking, we are probably shifting attention back and forth between two or possibly three tasks, each of which is familiar and which we can perform with minor vigilance.
Fourth, novelty in a situation calls for consciousness and for conscious attention. If you are fighting a barn fire, you must be alert and vigilant. On the other hand, if you are a veteran cow milker, you can milk the cow and can pay attention to something else.
Fifth, information that is conscious can be accessed by many other brain functions, such as planning, deciding, and acting. The information can be accessed by the speech areas so that you can talk about it. Conscious information is kept “on the front burner,” so to speak. That is, the information is available for some minutes in working memory so that your decisions are coherent and flow sensibly together. The widespread availability of a conscious event was a hypothesis that Baars proposed, not an established fact, but it seemed completely plausible and provoked other questions, such as the regulation of access and the range of functions that can have access.
None of these five features is a blockbuster on its own, but notice that collectively they yield a sensible and rather powerful framework for guiding research into further matters, such as how information is integrated and rendered coherent in our experience. Wisely, Baars avoided trying to identify the essence of consciousness, realizing that essences are an old-fashioned way of thinking about phenomena that impede making actual progress. This contrasts with the approach favored by some philosophers, whereby they tried to identify the defining property of consciousness, such as self-referentially, which is knowing that you know that you are feeling an itch or pain.

But in between you might also learn about the role of DNA and genes; of proteins and hormons and other molecules such as androgen, cortisol, dihydrotestosterone, dopamine, estradiol, estrogen, melatonin, nitric oxide synthase, noradrenaline, oxytocin, serotonin, testosteron, vasopressin; and the multiple modules and subsets of our brain.

Both Smolin and Churchland have the highest respect for scientific research and researchers on a quest for truth. Just for that reason, you should read them!

The Apple Revolution

I have not read (yet) Isaacson’ authorized biography of Steve Jobs but found (by pure accident) another recent, funny an really great book, The Apple Revolution. Interesting too and somewhat related to a previous blog I published on Robert Noyce and the culture of Silicon Valley. As important is the subtitle: Steve Jobs, the Counterculture and How the Crazy Ones Took Over the World.

Dormehl, the author, is convincing when he explains that Silicon Valley is the result of the counter-culture as much as the Midwest engineers coming to SV. Noyce might have agreed! “This ideological divide is not uncommon. Silicon Valley has long been defined by the innate tension between the technologist’s urge to share information and the industrialist’s incentive to profit. […] There were aspects of the counterculture that were staunchly anti-capitalists in their views. […] One of them was definitely Marxist and the other was largely apolitical.[..] “Do you own thing” easily translated into “Start your own business”. [Pages 61-63] “Only in Silicon Valley could starting a business be read as an act of rebellion.” [Page 169]

There are so many (unknown-to-me) anecdotes that I will only mention a few. For example, I did not know about Ron English, the guerrilla street artist who circumvented Apple’s billboards using murderer Charles Manson.

“The people who built Silicon Valley were engineers.” Jobs told wired in 1996. “They learned business, they learned a lot of different things, but they had a real belief that humans – if they worked hard with other creative, smart people,- could solve most of the humankind’s problems. I believe that very much.” [Pages 7-8]

At the same time, the counter-culture, the hacker culture has been critical [page 17]:
– Access to computers – and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works – should be unlimited and total;
– All information should be free;
– Mistrust authority – promote decentralization;
– Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position;
– You can create art and beauty on a computer;
– Computers can change your life for the better.

A funny anecdote is a woman going to the Homebrew Computer Club because nearly all the attendees were male. Her verdict: “the odds were good, but the goods were odd”. (Page 25)

You will learn about the history of the Apple logo [pages 85-90] and the first killer apps (word processing and spreadsheets). I did not know Paul Lutus and John Draper. And what about Apple first ad campaigns!

(Go to youtube at http://www.youtube.com/embed/J0Rs7d16jhU if you do not see the embedded frame!)

(Go to youtube at http://www.youtube.com/embed/HhsWzJo2sN4 if you do not see the embedded frame!)

You will obviously read about the mouse, about interactions with Xeroc PARC and also learn about the early days of the MacIntosh concept and its father, Jef Raskin who yanked sharply in the arm of a young developer when he saw his face and guessed his thinking, labeling as “wet-behind-the-ears marketing puke, dressed in a ridiculous chalk-pinstripe, complete with banker’s vest, shoes off, stinky feet up […] an abrasive punk in need of a slap” a Steve Jobs he had not recognized! [Page 189]

“The Macintosh project represented the first time – outside the Garage in which the Apple II had been built – that Apple would put together the kind of small, dedicated team that would produce some of the company’s greatest products in later years. Jobs referred to this company-within-a-company approach as returning to the “metaphorical garage”. The Macintosh team still had all the piss and vinegar of a start-up. “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have” Jobs said. “When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least one hundred times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Page 202]

You will also read about the legal issued Apple faced in the music field and the funny origin of the Sosumi. It’s not only about Apple, you will read about Next early team, Dan’l Lewin, Rich Page, George Crow, Bud Tribble Susan Barnes an Susan Care as well as Pixar’s founding team, Alvy Ray Smith, Edwin Earl Catmull and John Lasseter ; “Pundits even came up with a tongue-in-cheek name for the unlikely convergence of Silicon Valley technology and Hollywood moviemaking. They called it Sillywood.“ [Page 303] So you can comment my tentative cap. table of NeXT (see below) when acquired by Apple.

Another piece of video is Pixar first work, The adventures of Andre and Wally B. If Jobs did OK with Next, what about with Pixar. He got 70% for $10M then Smith and Catmull each had 4%. But jobs got 100% after putting $50M. [Pages 335-336] There is also the funny anecdote that the iMac could have been called the MacMan, sounding “like a cross between the video game Pac-Man and Sony’s handheld music player, the Walkman.” [Page 413]. There is also an analysis of intellectual property [Pages 430-431] “Whether or not a breakdown i traditional copyright laws odes, in fact, lead to a similar decline in creativity and innovation remains a hotly contested debate” adding that “Gates, typically referred as imaginative”, and having “never invented anything” is wrong. “Gates had invented the notion that Software (be it entire operating systems or simple files) could be sold. Jobs merely reframed the idea as a necessary protective measure for creativity.” Apparently Dormehl advises to read Lawrence Lessig’s  The Future of Ideas.

(Go to youtube at http://www.youtube.com/embed/W1rpE2c1Vco if you do not see the embedded frame!)

In the final chapters, Dormehl addresses the Apple paradox of the counterculture becoming mainstream. He quotes Norman Mailer [Page  384] “One is Hip or one is Square” and he adds [Page 408] that “no one better summarized the new ruling creative class of boomer bobos (that’s bourgeois bohemians) than Steve Jobs. […] They are prosperous without seeming greedy; they pleased their elders without seeming conformist; they have risen towards the top without too obviously looking down on those below; thy have achieved success without committing certain socially sanctioned affronts to the ideal of social equality; they have constructed a prosperous lifestyle while avoiding the old clichés of conspicuous consumption.”  Then [Page  456] Paul Lutus describes the App Store as a “classic marketer’s dream, with too many programmers with too many programs chasing too few buyer dollars, and the marketer in the middle the only really cashing in.” (Perfect capitalism, long if ever lost counterculture…) “Apple turning its back on its founding libertarian ideals.” […] “With the suggestion made that high-tech libertarianism apparently leans heavily towards the puritanical.” Still Jobs did not forget some elements of the start-up culture. “Jobs wanted the department to have only one hundred people, since that was the number of names he could remember.” “Apple was able to avoid unnecessary levels of bureaucracy. We’re the biggest start-up ion the planet Jobs proudly noted in 2010.” [Pages  462-463.] About innovation, “Gladwell’s suggestion (via economists Ralf Meisenzahl and Joel Mokyr) is that it is history’s tweakers – more so even than its inventors – who truly define the age:  The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world. The tweaker inherits things as they are, and has to push and pull them toward some more nearly perfect solution. that is not a lesser task. [Page  474] And as a near final quote from Norman Mailer again “One is a rebel or one conforms, one is a frontiersman in the Wild West  of American night life, or else a Square cell, trapped in the totalitarian tissues of American society, doomed willy-nilly to conform if one is to succeed.”  “It is for this reason that musicians like Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix who passed away at the age of twenty-seven, will forever be seen as young, idealistic rebels.” “The sheer scale of the current Apple makes it difficult to consider it any kind of rebel.”  [Page  502]  “Despite being declared moribund 59 times since 1995” [Page  495] , Apple is a formidable capitalist story as the next graph shows.

As a conclusion, let me quote Jobs again, and I discovered this on the Wikipedia page for Think Different:
“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

(Go to youtube at http://www.youtube.com/embed/4oAB83Z1ydE if you do not see the embedded frame!)