The Man who stole a Mouse

October 6, 2011

Uncorked Angst

When I opened the browser today, it simply said:

Steve Jobs

1955 -2011.

Steve Jobs

Photo credit: Apple Inc.

When he stole a mouse and a few graphical boxes from Xerox, he actually stole a dream. A dream, because Steven Paul Jobs was born a dreamer.  A dream that the whizkids at Xerox thought was beyond the comprehension of the present day man. But a dream that actually belonged to the humanity, like flying.  And a dream, that was to become a way of life, thanks to this college dropout.

The college dropout was also a family dropout. His parents abandoned him as soon as he was born.

He found shelter in the family of Clara and Paul Jobs. He quickly imbibed the passion of his adopted father for electronics and machines. He could rip apart and reassemble commonly available gadgets at an early age. A restless genius at school, his teachers had their hands more than full keeping checks on him. He was so fast he had to skip his 5th grade. In fact, there were some who seriously believed his damned skull be taken straight to the High School!

During his High School days, he spent intense years in the vicinity of Silicon Valley where the very air reeked of electronics. He earned himself a summer job at HP by directly calling up Bill Hewlett, its co-founder. Soon he ran into Stephen Wozniak, another computer nerd. Together they worked passionately on a ‘cream soda computer’. Few years down the line they devised a “blue box” that allowed free long distance calls by fooling the mighty AT&T apparatus. In keeping with his hardcore entrepreneurial spirits, Steve successfully marketed and sold a few pieces. Yes, the guy was an outlaw too!

College couldn’t retain his restless spirit for long. He called it quits in six months of all but kept dabbling in creative classes for the next year and a half. Later, he tried to put his wild heart into video game designing with Atari in 1974.

His overworked brains were dangerously close to a burnout when he set out for India in search of enlightenment. Eventually, he burnt his fingers rather than his brains when he ran into phony spiritualists  in search of “Neem Kairolie Baba” ! Needless to say, he quickly retraced his steps back to what he was best at: writing poetry in electronics.

Wozniak, meanwhile, had started work on a processor chip privately based on an existing structure. Jobs coaxed him into launching a company “of their own” which they called ‘Apple’ for want of a better name. It was the April Fool’s Day of 1976.

Soon, Apple computers started making their impact felt. Late in 1979, Jobs famously visited the Xerox PARC where he was shown a Graphic User Interface based, mouse driven computer. He was quick to decide that it was the next best thing after Edison’s light bulb and that, he wanted it in all of his computers thereafter.  He hired some of the brains involved in developing the interface at Xerox and there was no stopping him unleashing the mouse on a gleeful world! The ‘Mouse’ has since liberated an entire race of humans from memorising endless, complex commands for performing ordinary tasks.

There came a time, however, when Steve Jobs was booted out of Apple, the very company he had founded. These were turbulent years when he went through amazing troughs and peaks of his life. He toyed with Pixar which launched the memorable animation film, ‘The Toy Story’. He tried hard with a company called ‘Next’ involved in manufacturing high end computers for research in universities.

Come 1996, Steve was to return to Apple in a homecoming of sorts.  He quickly settled in working harder than the proverbial elves in the shoemaker’s workshop.  A volley of stunning products like PowerMac, PowerBook, iMac and iBook followed soon. Mac OS X made its presence felt as a milestone in the world of operating systems. And all this was small change to the revolution that would ensue with Steve’s offer of “1000 songs in your pocket”! We are, of course, talking of the redoubtable iPod with its loveable ‘clickwheel’ interface.

The year 2007 saw the birth of the iPhone, a mobile communication device “light-years ahead of anything else”. Notwithstanding the outcome of various lawsuits filed across the world by and against Apple for infringement of patents, the iPhone remains the mother and father of all smartphones that float in the markets today.

Similarly, 2010 saw the launch of the iPad and trust Steve to have picked up an amazingly uninspiring name like that and have gotten away with it. iPad’s latest avtar, the iPad-2, which is ‘not a tablet but is an iPad-2’, has continued the traditional Apple feat of stopping you dead in your tracks.

But some day, that universal truth of life is going to stop everything good and everything living dead in its tracks. So, yesterday, God stole the man from the world who stole the mouse for it.

Note (Oct 09, 2011): I have changed a sentence above to infer that Steve Jobs did not meet “Neem Kairolie Baba” himself. I pray to be forgiven.

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About umashankar

I am just a watcher then. Sometimes I watch life. Sometimes I watch death. Many times I watch in between...

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25 Comments on “The Man who stole a Mouse”

  1. Chintan Gupta Says:

    The man who embraced death like no other will, the man who lived life like no one ever will! History has been written.

  2. Mayank Says:

    US. Great tribute. Even though I have never been tempted enough to use an apple product other than an ipod nano i was gifted, i can feel the impact of this unfortunate event. I hope he inspires the generation today and thereafter – much though there would never be another Steve Jobs. RIP Steve.

  3. zephyr Says:

    Very well penned tribute to one owl by another! We can truly say that we lived in the same generation as the great inventor and innovator (I share his birth year) and feel proud about it. Frankly, I had not known all these details about the gadgets that are in use by millions — that they were the brainchildren of a single man. Thanks for sharing.

  4. alkagurhalka Says:

    A heartfelt tribute to a revolutionary.
    What particularly struck me was the highs and lows of his life.He was abandoned as a child and born to parents out of wedlock. Then he was chucked out of the very co he founded.And finally to battle the dreaded C….I feel sad. He deserved better…a happier childhood, a longer life, a healthy life….But when is life fair?

    • umashankar Says:

      Right. Steve seems to be a hero straight out of the tragedies of Thomas Hardy. No matter what he did, he was doomed till his cruel death. But then, as he himself said, it doesn’t matter how you die, its rather how you live.

  5. AB Says:

    Although I have never taken a keen interest in computers or their evolution over the years, I was fascinated by Jobs and after his sad demise, wanted to read more about him. Your piece on him is as good as anything (and often better) I came across

    • umashankar Says:

      Sir, even if you didn’t have keen interest in computers before, I’m happy you realize that Steve’s efforts have touched your life too in someway. That graphical interface and that mouse. And that touchscreen smartphone. Thanks for reading about him. And thanks for encouraging a midget like me.

  6. Giribala Says:

    Nice tribute! Thanks! I need to find out more about Neem Karoli Baba connection….

  7. purbaray Says:

    From push to touch, Jobs changed the way the world perceived technology. His lecture at Stanford ,2005, will continue to inspire generations to come.

    And from what I have read, he never got to meet Neem Karoli Baba. But then I may be wrong.

    A heartfelt tribute btw 🙂

    • umashankar Says:

      Thanks for reading Purba. Your comment reminds me I missed out on the gift of touch interface that Steve blessed us all with.
      There surely seems to be a greater link with “Neem Kairolie Baba” than his famous comment. Maybe Walter Isaacson’s highly anticipated biography will shed some light.

  8. Shiju Sugunan Says:

    It was way back in 1999, when I used a Mac (iMac G3) for the first time. It was love at first sight. The GUI was such a relief from the programmer designed Windows GUI. For me, the hallmark of Apple is how they uniquely meld technical features with visual appeal. This is an excellent piece of tribute to the man who made technology, so user-friendly.

  9. Lalit Says:

    ऊपर वाला जब दर्द देता हैं तो उसे सहन करने की हिम्मत भी देता हैं !

  10. Neeraj Kumar Says:

    I am grateful for ur surprise mail.

    A nice write for a man who changed the way we used to see our world. He was a creator and created new meaning of life for everybody who came closer to his thought.

  11. Sudhir Srivastava Says:

    So very informative. Didn’t know many things about the great man. But I think “The owl…..” was a much better piece.

  12. joshi daniel Says:

    a really great man and its so nice to see a post about him!

  13. journomuse Says:

    Really lovely piece…Sorry was late to see it because I have been travelling…In fact was in London when I heard about Jobs’ demise, weirdly just contemplating moving on from a Blackberry to an iPhone..and can you imagine my tribute to Jobs was actually picking up an iPhone and finally saying bye to what a dear friend of mine called the ‘semi-smart BLACK phone’ to an intensely smart black i-beauty..:)

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