A chance encounter 7 years – changed how I view the impossible. I ran into Russell Kirsch – the creator of the first programmable computer and the pixel (you’re welcome digital photography).
You can read the full story here, but he left me with a quote and an insight about Apple that I didn’t understand right away.
I didn’t know who he was at first. Just an older man at the coffee shop asking me if I liked Apple.
I told him I did and I used it for a bunch of writing projects and a few websites:
“I’ve been against Macintosh company lately. They’re trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things. With a computer you can make things. You can code, you can make things and create things that have never before existed and do things that have never been done before.”
“That’s the problem with a lot of people”, he continued, “they don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before.”
I didn’t realize till the middle of our conversation who he was and his contributions to the world, but I was blown away both by his accomplishments and by what he was saying.
I mean, everyone loves Apple, right?
And now, 7 years later – it’s almost uncanny about how Russell seems to be right.
Apple’s product launches used to be about game changing technology. Creating amazing software that let you make things. You bought the hardware so you got access to the software. It was a beautiful software company and they were always launching new products and tools to make new things.
But right around the time I ran into Russell – things started to change – and he could see it coming – even if I didn’t understand it.
Now, in 2019?
Here’s Apple’s “big” announcements:
When I disappointedly scrolled through the announcement page, the echos of a giant scrolled through my head
…when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things.
Instead of products to help you create, the main products of Apple’s launch boil down to:
- Watch more stuff.
- Read more fearmongering.
- Waste more time.
- Buy more stuff.
To be clear – I love Apple. I’ve used it since college and almost bought a PowerBook right before the “MacBook” line was released. It’s the only computer I owned as an adult. In fact, I’m writing this on a Mac right now.
And it’s important to remember a computer is just a tool. And what you do with it is a choice – you can choose to consume or you can decide to create something. But you have to choose.
That day, Russell told me:
That’s the problem with a lot of people. They don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before.
With yesterday’s announcement, I’m beginning to think that Russell Kirsch was right. So it might be as good of a time as ever to remind yourself to actually “think different.”
Because with a computer, you don’t have to just get sucked into consuming. You can make things, you can create things that have never before existed. You can do things that have never been done before. So go ahead, and actually do it.
“Do things that have never been done before” – The guy who invented the computer
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