Malcom Gladwell deconstructs the Mac's creation myth in the current New Yorker
The truth is that he paid for them -- with 100,000 shares of his company a year before its initial public offering.
The deeper truth, which Malcom ("The Tipping Point") Gladwell explores at length in the current issue of the New Yorker, is that Jobs had no interest in reproducing the work the team at Xerox PARC had done.
Jobs knew that the demo he and Bill Atkinson were given that day in 1979 -- Atkinson with his nose pressed almost against the screen, Jobs pacing around the room in an excited state -- represented the seeds of a computer revolution. But also knew that it was fatally flawed at many levels, starting with the three-button mouse that cost $300 and broke down within two weeks. Gladwell writes:
"The difference between direct and indirect manipulation—between three buttons and one button, three hundred dollars and fifteen dollars, and a roller ball supported by ball bearings and a free-rolling ball—is not trivial. It is the difference between something intended for experts, which is what Xerox PARC had in mind, and something that's appropriate for a mass audience, which is what Apple had in mind. PARC was building a personal computer. Apple wanted to build a popular computer."
It's a story that's been told before, but Gladwell spins it well with lots of new detail and color, including how Apple's first prototype mice were constructed out of butter dishes, spools of guitar wire, toy train wheels and roller balls taken from underarm deodorant sticks.
The image above is taken from a slide show of early mouse prototypes that the New Yorker has posted here.
Watch it this afternoon, when an IBM supercomputer takes on two human champions
It's the biggest man vs. machine confrontation since Deep Blue humiliated Gary Kasparov on the chess board in 1997.
Over the course of three episodes -- February 14, 15 and 16 -- an IBM (IBM) supercomputer named Watson will challenge Jeopardy!'s most successful human contestants.
We're not privy to the outcome, but based on the level of pre-publicity generated by MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 14, 2011 1:33 PM ET
The man who wrote MacPaint thinks it could be a milestone in computer development
Bill Atkinson was part of Steve Jobs' hand-picked team at Apple (AAPL) that developed the original Macintosh -- the one that popularized the mouse, windows and drop-down menus -- so he knows something about what computer engineers call human interface design.
And he ended a 20-minute presentation on the subject at Macworld 2011, which runs through Saturday in MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 26, 2011 4:56 PM ET
The man who wrote MacPaint plugs his former employer's latest product
"I think this guy is going to be a real winner," said Bill Atkinson, holding up what looked like an Apple (AAPL) iPad tablet computer before an adoring audience at Macworld Expo.
It was only a cardboard mock-up, created to show what his latest project -- Bill Atkinson PhotoCard -- would look like on the new device.
But he had clearly spent MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 12, 2010 2:10 PM ET
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