Forever Voyaging

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Here's a great little post about Apple and Steve Jobs to start the New Year:

In June 1976, Steve Jobs went looking for someone to print the manual for the Apple I computer, the first product from the company he had started with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne a few months earlier. Jobs's friend Regis McKenna, the head of Silicon Valley's premier advertising and public relations firm, suggested he contact Mike Rose, who ran a small advertising agency in Los Altos, California.

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The note is wonderful in part because it reveals how much Silicon Valley has changed in 35 years. In 1976, two guys trying to launch a tech company from a garage in the heart of Silicon Valley were flakes. Today, someone in Rose's position might well ask for a piece of the action -- payment in the form of a small bit of stock, perhaps?

The note also shows us that in some ways, the 21-year-old Jobs was not too different from the man he later became. Jobs may have struck Rose as a "joker," but the young entrepreneur is concerned about secrecy ("Wouldn't trust me," Rose writes) and drives a hard bargain ("wants it for nothing").

In the end, Jobs rejected Rose's bid as too high and went on to have a typesetter handle production of the Apple I manual. That manual, too, shows how much has changed in 35 years. On the cover, the company was called Apple Computer, not Apple. The logo was not the famous fruit with a missing bite, but an elaborate illustration, drawn by Wayne, depicting Isaac Newton reading a book -- reading a book! -- beneath an apple tree. A quote from William Wordsworth encircles the drawing: "A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought -- alone."

What would one need for voyaging alone through strange seas of thought? Knowledge of self, for one thing, and as much history, literature and language as you can carry. Physics and astronomy would come in handy, as would math, biology, religion... ah, geography! Where have you been - where are you going? Steve Jobs makes the case for the liberal arts - stranger things have happened.

All the best of strange seas and thought in 2012.

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