Photo of Steve Jobs portrait (CC-BY) Adobe of Chaos / Organ Museum.

Steve Jobs’ abrupt resignation from Apple is of course plastered all over the news and social network feeds, so let’s consider instead the legacy Jobs has left over the decades for creative technology. The highlights for artists and musicians begin far before the iPhone. Jobs’ sometimes-obsessive dedication to design, to uncompromising capabilities particularly in regards to multimedia, and to stewarding the creative teams that built these computers has shaped the development of computing for music and visuals. Now, what happens next – including the important role computers continue to have in creation – could be no less compelling. Here are just a few landmark contributions:

The Apple II, product of the company Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded, was for many of us our first experience in computing. Jobs was an impresario and ambassador to the Apple II as it aggressively took on education and widespread popular computing. With those roots, the makers of electronic music and electronic music software to come found fertile soil.

The Lisa and Macintosh brought what were once experimental ideas in computing interaction to the masses. Jobs was not a perfect manager in his early years by any stretch – with Apple II and Mac divisions turned against one another and difficulties with Jobs’ sometimes-hostile management style, there were reasons behind the ouster of Jobs from the company he founded. But he also, as he was to do later at Pixar, managed to protect a team of innovators in design unlike any that’s been assembled since, the group of people who defined computing interaction and the expressive computer for us today. And the Macintosh, while best known popularly as becoming the engine of the desktop publishing revolution, was also a platform for changing musical performance and creation. Laurie Spiegel’s Music Mouse on the Mac would be one of the first software synths and audiovisual instruments (perhaps the first, depending on the definition). The Mac also would come to lead the way with technologies like MIDI and sequencers like Performer and Vision, taking a key role in shaping music to come. Moreover, the design and philosophy Jobs had helped guide, even to the very notion of the computer as a “bicycle for the mind,” was what convinced so many in our community that computing had a place in music and art.

And then there’s Pixar. Jobs literally saved the company from a near-certain demise, and with it a group of artists and engineers who defined both the potential of computer animation as a feature medium and the techniques used to make it look visually appealing. By all accounts, it was Jobs’ ability to protect this group of creative people and allow them to do what they did best that allowed them to remake animation. It’s a sign of the times that Pixar executives effectively took over the Disney animation department and not the other way around. Today’s real-time, 2D and 3D visuals, visual media as performance, visual media interactively responding to music, are all possible because of the technologies and modes of expression pioneered by the team at Pixar.

The NeXT, while a business failure, had a vital role in music and creative technology. Aside from producing the basic operating system that would become Mac OS X, the NeXT machine, with its unusually-powerful DSP capabilities, was the box on which real-time Max audio processing and many other key achievements in early computer DSP became possible. I hear there are even a few of these black boxes haunting labs and facilities around the world now, still in working order. And this design is all Jobs: flaunting convention or, arguably, even business realities, Jobs built the machine of the future. NeXT may have been Jobs’ Ford Edsel, but like the Edsel itself, it keeps looking better in hindsight, and it really did represent the technologies to come.

The revitalization of Apple will be what most pundits observe. But I think it’s tough to overstate its importance for the computer industry. I’d actually been preparing in my head an editorial prior to the announcement. The gist went something like this: we’re not living in the post-PC age. We’re living in the Apple age. Sure, computer maker executives point clumsily to a perceived shift to “tablets” that’s hurting their PC business. But mostly what they’re saying is that PC profit margins are falling, and they can’t make netbooks or tablets or anything else new people want to make up the difference. Look at Apple, by comparison: the “tablet” market is almost exclusively the “iPad” market for now, and at the same time, Mac sales are up, Mac market share is up, and Mac enthusiasm is generally up (the odd misstep with video editing and OS design oddities notwithstanding). Love them or hate them, Apple are the benchmark for computing, whether that computing experience is on a tablet, a phone, a laptop, or a desktop. That’s what a competitive company does. And it’s a combination of Mac OS X (now also a mobile OS) and Apple’s systems integration that makes it possible. (Like their competitors, Apple pulls together components from many, many other makers – but that makes the integration more impressive, not less.)

The Mac as musical instrument. Regular readers (or anyone who talks to me) know that I pull no punches when it comes to being critical of Apple. I think that’s my job. I also believe competition is important. But I think it’d be a mistake to dismiss musician Mac fans as being simply charmed by pretty computers. Apple’s OS is, of the three major desktop operating systems, the most able to make music with minimal user intervention. Their hardware is, generally speaking, reliable and enjoyable to use. For many musicians, comfort with the PowerBook and MacBook lines – from industrial design to operating system – is what allowed them to feel able to go out and produce and perform with a laptop. “Design” is more than skin deep. It runs to the very kernel of an operating system, literally, and in music it means design and engineering that can perform in tiny fractions of a second. Apple is not the only company capable of such engineering, but the work they’ve done in areas you can see and can’t see alike is all work you experience when you use their product.

When Jobs took over Apple, the entire music market was potentially on the chopping block. The idea of native creative software was no longer a sure thing. Jobs managed to build a platform ecosystem and an organization that supported continued leadership in the industry. In the grand scheme of the history of creative computing, that’s no small feat.

Apple hardware has been a ubiquitous part of music making and listening, a great deal of it produced under Jobs’ leadership. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Ville Hyvönen.

Digital music consumption. iTunes, iPod, downloads, digital music consumption … yeah, that whole thing. Jobs’ personal commitment to music, and perhaps to the romanticized ideas of the relationship with album and artist, may last even when these individual products are long gone. Even as “cloud” music makes music more of a commodity, the feeling of satisfaction you get when you buy an actual album download from Bandcamp is in tune with the vision Jobs had of music listening. (It’s a vision misunderstood by record labels made nervous by that original “Rip. Mix. Burn.” ad campaign from 2001′s iPod launch, though I suppose what that campaign did accurately predict was the rise of the single.)

Digital music creation. Apple under Jobs was also a champion of music making software, acquiring Emagic, bundling GarageBand with every Mac, and developing Logic Studio and now GarageBand on iPad. Even beyond the immediate impact of this software, the focus on music creation apps and the underlying infrastructure with Core Audio and Core MIDI gets unparalled attention. Jobs has led that emphasis and the relationship with artists and industry from creation to consumption in a way that has impacted the entire music software industry. While third-party developers may not always be happy with the immediate results, the long-term benefit of making music instrumental to this generation of computers is hard to overstate. (Thanks to readers pointing this out in comments – and pointing out, as well, that once upon a time this was really more true of Atari than Apple. That history will have to wait for another day, though.)

Popularizing new mobility and interaction. Yes, the iPhone and iPad is what I’m talking about. But if you believe these designs will prove to have an impact in the greater history of computing, you have to assume that impact will be larger than a single product. The ideas behind mobile computing arguably began at Apple in Jobs’ absence, the era of Newton and John Sculley’s Apple, and then at upstart General Magic (a company which employed many of the future movers and shakers of today’s mobile landscape, including the founder of Android). But even those teams at Apple and General Magic had the thumbprints of the Mac team Jobs originally assembled, and their vision wasn’t truly realized until the iPhone and iPad. On the handheld and tablet, respectively, Apple under Jobs brought us new modes of interaction with software, from multi-touch and gestures to single-task focus, computers that began to feel more immersive, computing interaction that for the first time felt freed from the accumulated UI detritus (“chrome”) that had clouded the Mac’s original vision. Musicians and artists predicted (and built) these kinds of designs for years before the iOS revolution, and so it’s little wonder that some of the most ground-breaking software for these platforms comes from those communities. The ability to take a computer into a party, to make something as viscerally expressive as musical sound, is the perfect test for whether ubiquitous computing can be human. It’s the computer as part of culture, and it’s under Jobs’ Apple that we first saw those machines that made it seem like we were living in the future. If they’re not the last, if they do begin to come from other makers, that’s to me an even greater testament to that vision.

Jobs’ next act: Succession. Steve Jobs is by no stretch of the imagination a perfect manager; Apple’s products are hardly unassailably “perfect.” Often, the appealing vision of Apple is the counterpart of a lack of vision by their competitors, an inability to harness design and engineering talent – though that failure will give pause to anyone looking forward to the Jobs-less Apple.

But part of management is succession. Steve Jobs managed to grow as a manager, from the apparently tempestuous youth who was kicked out of Apple to someone who built a mature, wildly-successful global business. He learned from mistakes at Apple, at NeXT, and even at Pixar. He delivered new acts better than the last.

It’s immensely sad to many of us that health would be the reason for Jobs’ departure. I think those of us who work in computing and journalism hope for good health for everyone in this industry. But this is the nature of succession as a reality in any organization.

Jobs’ best days, his best achievements, have all come about as a result of intelligent leadership. Jobs didn’t design any of the products above; leadership is the ability to guide people who do that work. And to me, the best test of leadership is succession: it’s the ability to build an organization you can leave. I’m surprised by the gloom and doom around Apple. Jobs will be sorely missed. But I find it very unlikely that, as David Pogue argues, Apple will now be run “by committee.” This is the Apple Jobs built. Committees likely have nothing to do with it.

Ironically, Apple’s success following Jobs’ first departure – what were then some of the company’s best days – were partly possible because of the organization Jobs had built. Sculley ultimately proved the wrong leader for Apple, but he did helm smart decisions that helped Apple mature as a global business, helped the Mac mature as a platform, and defined how computers would be designed and marketed for years to come. And Sculley was not coincidentally a Jobs recruit. So, too, were many of the managers and engineers who built that healthy Apple, the Macintosh on which a lot of the music tech revolution has happened. They come out of an organizational culture and enthusiasm Jobs had built from the ground up.

Now, a more mature Jobs leaves Apple voluntarily, with a succession plan in place, and with an organization he has more directly molded. He’s staying on with the organization, too, and you can bet his voice will continue to carry enormous weight. If you want to evaluate the future of creative technology on the Mac and iOS, this is the greatest test yet of what Jobs can do as a manager, whether you love the man or not. In Sculley’s accounts of his long walks with Jobs in the early days of Apple, he reveals that Mr. Jobs was constantly aware of his own mortality. All of us will, without exception, be gone someday, someday not very far away. What is a “legacy” if not what you leave when you’re gone?

  • http://www.cassiel.com cassiel

    Outside the US, Apple were almost left in the dust during the MIDI revolution. Macintosh computers cost more than twice as much as a comparable (in terms of MIDI sequencing needs) Atari ST and were only sold through enterprise-customer-facing exclusive dealerships (or, if you were lucky, educational deals), so the Atari plus Steinberg's software dominated the European market for years.

    Don't forget also that Apple were almost hamstrung by the Apple Corps. lawsuit which forbade them from entering the music/music software market for years. Their offerings like the MIDI Management Tools were lacklustre and, in some respects, nonfunctional (MIDI never worked properly on PowerBooks, for instance).

    Eventually, music on the Mac was saved by its dedicated third-party vendors such as Opcode and Mark of the Unicorn. Once Macs got cheaper and the cross-platform frameworks came along, things got a lot healthier.

  • http://music.cornwarning.com chaircrusher

    I agree with your assessment, except in one particular:  The day of platform being crucial to music making are over for a couple of reasons:

    1) Cross-platform, portable development is a mature, well-understood process now. All popular — and many not-so-popular — music software is available on both platforms, and behave substantially the same.

    2) Neither commercial OS platforms can claim a substantive, quantifiable advantage over the other.  That might not have been the case a few years back, but Windows 7 is the mature platform people on the PC side have been waiting for.

    Now what I'm waiting for is a version of Linux I won't waste a day trying to get sound to come out the audio outputs.

  • Peter Kirn

    @cassiel: Yeah, of course, and realize, this is a brief look at about 35 years of Apple history, not a comprehensive history of MIDI or musical computing. That said, while everything you say is true, I think the Mac still had a significant impact. For one thing, the Atari ST was profoundly influenced by what the Mac did in terms of UI and design; it just made it cheaper and more practical. (Ahem.) And while MIDI lagged, the long-term influence by Opcode and MOTU, and things like Max and Magic Mouse, was significant.

    I used Apple's native MIDI tools, and I agree with your assessment. They didn't work. FreeMIDI and OMS saved the day. I'm not sure I agree that Apple Corps lawsuits were to blame, though. It's not as though Apple killed a massive MIDI support effort to comply with the law. It's actually fairly unclear that Apple engineers paid much attention to that legal situation. I can't think of a situation in which it directly influenced policy; more that it was something the lawyers worried about after something happened. (I think the spirit of the "sosumi" sound — or the whole Carl Sagan fiasco — suggests the level of reverence Apple engineers held for what legal worried about.)

    But you're right — it'd be historically inaccurate to view Apple as the sole center of the universe in the evolution of music tech. They just wrote some important chapters. That was my intention here. And I think more than the products, it was about the ideas — about the philosophy of computers and how they're marketed, about interaction, mobility, touch, and so on — that are more significant, to music and art as well as computing in general. Those are the ideas that in the long run should matter more than the individual products.

    Actually, writing this made me want to do a cross-platform look … like at the major software we use today, and where it started. A history of computer MIDI also isn't a bad idea – warts and all. ;)

  • Peter Kirn

    @chaircrusher: I hope platform isn't the most important issue. This was me musing on Jobs as a leader and ideas, not OS choice. 

    But I'd take strong issue with this claim:

    "Neither commercial OS platforms can claim a substantive, quantifiable advantage over the other."

    Here are a few "substantive, quantifiable advantages," just off the top of my head:

    * Core Audio and Core MIDI and the fact that they're the only audio system on the Mac

    * The instant-on functionality of Mac OS (arguably qualitative rather than quantitative, but sure as heck substantive)

    * The ability of Windows to support an enormous variety of third-party hardware

    * The ability of Linux to work in embedded situations, and across processor architectures, and via the real-time kernel with extremely low latencies

    * The fact that Linux is open source (that may sound hard to quantify, but that's because there are so many ways in which it can be quantified)

    These are all multi-dimensional, but non-trivial. Ideally, you work past any of these issues and get on with your music, and then perhaps cease to notice it. But you do notice the differences on a platform. And the desire to make a decision based on evaluating those, on evaluating cost, value, and functionality, is something you do now as you did in the Atari ST / Mac / DOS era. You make a decision based on these criteria so that you can later forget the decision and make some music.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    @Peter: I would totally look forward to a cross-platform look on the whole matter.

    @cassiel: totally agree! When I started making music I had a lousy home-assembled PC running Fasttracker pro for DOS, and was really evious of my friends who had an Atari ST… nobody I know back in the 90s here was using Apple… that only started later, when the whole laptop music making became a trend.

  • http://www.cassiel.com cassiel

    The MIDI tools got a big fanfare at (I think) NAMM 1991 and then all went very slow and quiet as the lawsuit hit. Maybe a correlation rather than a causality.

    But yes: I think my point was that things were rocky for Apple in the music area for a long while. But then, things were rocky for Apple full stop for a long while. In the end, I think, the higher educational market was a lifeline: there were plenty of Macs in universities when you'd never see them in everyday settings. That only really changed with the Return of Steve and the Bondi Blue iMac.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Hanzo: I found a lot of people were using Macs at least by the mid-90s; it was seeing them at Oberlin while running Vision, Performer, M, Max, and Interactor (predecessor of Isadora, or at least written by the same author) that convinced me to buy my first Mac. And the academic tradition had a lot of Mac use going back to the 80s, which I expect is why Magic Mouse was on the Mac.

    Of course, I also have some very distinctive memories of hours spent troubleshooting Apple MIDI Manager, FreeMIDI, and OMS. And having to deal with all three. Ahem.

    DOS was similarly behind when it started; that's something Cakewalk founder Greg Hendershott spoke to us about, at least prior to Roland's MPU-401.

    Seeing how the landscape ultimately shifted should give the hint that — looking now at the mobile landscape — things change. ;)

    And all of this says to me that, having said the ideas and philosophies were important, so, too, were the nitty-gritty technical details. Oh, were they. Design and engineering, big-picture product and specific technical nuts and bolts, are not separate concerns.

  • http://www.cassiel.com cassiel

    @Hanzo I gigged at an electronica festival with a Mac SE/30 in 1990, and with SE/30 plus PowerBook 170 in 1992. There may even be video of those gigs available, but offhand I can't remember whether video had been invented yet.

  • ALTZ

    The Macbook Pro is the shape of nowadays' musical instruments.

  • ALTZ

    It could be a synth, a signal processor, sequencers…etc. It could be anything.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    Just so you don't get me wrong. I was just talking about my personal experience and not stating people were not using macs in the 90s. It was just to support Cassiels point on the differences between Europe and the US in the musical use of macs.

  • engine

    word! @ Hanzo

    imho its all about their old os and much hype after that.

  • phase90

    From the apple IIs in our 5th grade math lab (1979), to my iphone-based transport control of PT on Mac Pro… This guy's legacy is cemented in my reality

  • Robin parry

    Remember seeing my friends first Mac, an se20 !?! I was using an atari and he had a record deal, amazed at the 20 mb hard drive and how much it could hold!

    Now a MacBook running Maschine and omnisphere. It still just works, and dosnt get in the way of 'creative'.

    He gave us the tools we needed, though we didn't know we needed them!

    Same as when the iPad was released and the sentiment was 'what do you need a bigger screened iPhone?'

    Well I guess we all know now!

  • http://www.hicox.com plurgid

    The single greatest thing Apple ever did was make garageband then give it away for free on every new mac.

    One day back in about 2005 the lapsed musician turned programmer that was me, was poking around on my new G3 mac mini and found this thing.

    Then I woke up and remembered "oh yeah, I love music, why did I stop doing this? And this thing makes it so easy!".

    That moment has pretty much defined my life ever since. I'd forgotten a part of myself that I was very much unlikely to rediscover without someone holding the door open for me and letting me into the party for free.

    I wonder how many more like me there are out in the world because of that decision that pretty much would never have been made at any other company.

  • Eric

    @plurgid Agreed. I bought my first Mac after months of trying to configure an off-the shelf HP into a functional DAW system.  I'd get random, infuriating dropouts in every DAW and controlling the case noise was a lot of work (I know, I know, probably just a bad model for "our" purposes).  I was spending more time troubleshooting than making music.  Picking up my mom's 12" Powerbook and recording into Garageband – a pre-installed program like Solitaire! – with no dropouts was a revelation.  A few minutes of smooth multi-tracking was all I needed to buy the vision of tightly/expertly integrated hardware and software hook/line/sinker.

  • http://www.mikezed.com mzed

    I'm surprised that "Sound Tools" software hasn't been mentioned in this discussion. The inclusion of NuBus  in Macintosh II's was a pretty big step forward for hardware and digital audio.

  • bliss

    Good post, Peter. Good comment, plurgid.

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pairshare/id424429744?mt=8 Brian Tuley

    Apple has put a lot of care into hardware design, and into innovation….while it would seem other companies stood around and waited to copy whatever apple came up with.  Most every piece of hardware these days is in some way a rather poor knock-off of an Apple design.   It's sad that there have been so few apple-like companies out there in terms of innovation of product and quality of physical design. 

    It will be interesting to see what becomes of Apple co. without lord and catalyst Steve Jobs leading the herd.

  • Aaron

    @ Brian. I fundamentally disagree with that statement. I think Apple was the THE BEST at copying an idea and then slamming it home. I don't think they've ever had an original idea, but what they do best is take existing ideas and making them much more approachable for everyone and then adding their touch of flair to it (user experience, hipster design approach), making it popular, and running away with it. IMO, thats what makes Apple valuable. Pushing new tech into the main stream, but not in and of itself innovation.

  • Aaron

    I didn't mean to speak in the past-tense there. I don't see things changing anytime soon. Replace "..was.." with "..has been.."

  • http://zeroreference.blogspot.com zeroreference

    @Altz

    +1 

    Mac Pro (and the white Macbooks) are definitely 'instruments,' at least in the mind's eye. You know what you get and can rely on it.

  • Jim Aikin

    Image-Line keeps saying FL Studio will never be ported to the Mac. It's probably the main reason I'm still a Windows fanboy.

  • He

    @One third party tool makes you a OS fanboy?

    I remember back in 98 at school  (age of 12) we hated Mac because they were never upgraded (almost 14 years, WTF), learned (little) HTML on those ancient Macintoshs when everybody was getting a PC at home…  

    Later, related to music, I wanted to throw my XP machine out the window (ha!), it was a godsend buying a macbook, it just WORKED!

  • Marsha Vdovin

    Fantastic article Peter, thanks

  • Random Chance

    @Aaron: I'm not sure, but IIRC Apple came up with the way a GUI works today. The original GUIs with mouse support were more complicated and not necessarily in a good way. I don't think they copied the bits that are recognized today as a mouse driven GUI from Xerox back then. As you wrote: Apple is quite good at taking ideas and shaping them into something that is of value to people. With Lion I think they lost that Mojo, though. There are some neat ideas, but it's all going the way of iOS.

    Anyway, although I did not always agree with you, I wish you a good further life, Steve Jobs.

  • Peter Kirn

    Regarding Xerox versus Apple and GUI integration, I'd refer you to Bruce Horn, one of Macintosh's principle designers who was also a veteran of the Xerox Parc team. Excerpt:

    "Smalltalk has no Finder, and no need for one, really. Drag-and- drop file manipulation came from the Mac group, along with many other unique concepts: resources and dual-fork files for storing layout and international information apart from code; definition procedures; drag-and-drop system extension and configuration; types and creators for files; direct manipulation editing of document, disk, and application names; redundant typed data for the clipboard; multiple views of the file system; desk accessories; and control panels, among others. The Lisa group invented some fundamental concepts as well: pull down menus, the imaging and windowing models based on QuickDraw, the clipboard, and cleanly internationalizable software. "

    "Smalltalk had a three-button mouse and pop-up menus, in contrast to the Mac's menu bar and one-button mouse. Smalltalk didn't even have self-repairing windows – you had to click in them to get them to repaint, and programs couldn't draw into partially obscured windows. Bill Atkinson did not know this, so he invented regions as the basis of QuickDraw and the Window Manager so that he could quickly draw in covered windows and repaint portions of windows brought to the front. One Macintosh feature identical to a Smalltalk feature is selection-based modeless text editing with cut and paste, which was created by Larry Tesler for his Gypsy editor at PARC. "

    http://folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintos

    The myth is this: Apple "stole" from Xerox; Microsoft "stole" from Apple. The problem is, in each case, teams had unparalleled permission to see what they saw. Apple opened up their facilities to Microsoft because they were supporting Microsoft as a third-party developer and needed Microsoft's knowledge; Xerox opened up their facilities to Apple (why they did so being a bit more obscure). In each case (Microsoft from Apple, Apple from Xerox) there was financial compensation and legal licensing of intellectual property.

    It'd be like saying someone stole your TV when you invited them to your house, they paid you, you helped them carry the TV out of your house, and you signed a document saying they were taking your TV, and then you visited their house to watch the Super Bowl.

    Apple hired Xerox engineers, and assembled a design team that incorporated a lot of the team that had been underappreciated, from the standpoint of delivering a commercial product, at Xerox. On both counts, Jobs deserves serious credit as the man who made it happen; Jef Raskin's Lisa lacked the Xerox-style GUI paradigm. (And, actually, one interesting thing about Raskin is his ongoing criticism of that same paradigm.)

    Read Bruce's story all the way through, and he argues in some ways the Xerox research was more sophisticated. But it was research; the Mac had to actually ship and sell. "Great artists ship" -Steve Jobs.

    What is notable to me is that, via iOS, Jobs has led the first successful major commercial alternative to the paradigm for which he led the first successful major commercial product. Not many people popularize a new interaction paradigm once; no one else can be said to have done so twice. On iOS (and mobile operating systems in general)

    Window – nope, not really.

    Icon – yes, though not used in quite the way it was originally.

    Mouse – nope.

    Pointing device – nope; using the finger directly without an intermediary is a departure.

    This is fundamental to music software twice over, because the interaction paradigm is relevant both to how you make music and how you perform/interact in real-time. Even games don't really compare. It'd be as if one tool let you design *and* play the game.

    As I say in the article, Jobs didn't invent this stuff. He brought together teams who did (and very often *invented* is exactly what they did), and led the teams who produced, marketed, and shipped it. To see some of the people on those teams, check out sites like folklore.org for first-hand accounts of what happened.

    If all that work had been wholly original and not based on previous research and design, I can't imagine it'd be very interesting / make much sense.

    In music software, in fact, we're dependent on some borrowing of ideas or we'd never be able to figure out how anything worked.

  • Peter Kirn

    Incidentally, because teams of people make this stuff, I'd also take issue with the notion that only Apple innovates and everyone else copies. It simply isn't true, and part of the reason Steve Jobs' own legacy will survive I think is because there really is genuine innovation outside of Apple, too. It'd be a pretty limited legacy if that weren't the case.

  • Juno

    The moment Bill Atkinson is mentioned, Jobs becomes just another foul mouthed manager.

    There's stories not being mentioned in all the hubbub this week. How Jobs lied his way into a job at Atari by claiming to work at HP. How Jobs got Woz to build Breakout for Atari, got the 5000 buck fee and then told Woz it was 700 bucks and gave him half. How he conned Atari into flying him to India for spiritual enlightenment. There's years of this stuff.

    Apple is many wonderful clever people, Ives in particular. They should be getting credit.

  • Chris

    Juno – no one was saying Jobs is a terrific human being. 

    No doubt there's unsung heroes behind the scenes at Apple. 

    I'm excited to see what happens in the next 10-15 years :) I think we'll see more competition and creativity…who knows, we might look back on Apple like we do on Atari, although I suspect that may take a bit longer. 

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    Funny people here are talking a lot about what Apple/Jobs has done or hasn't done for music making and many start publicly thanking him for his great work. As far as I see, anything a huge corporation like Apple has done for music making happened more or less incidentally, was done according to precise economic calculations and provided them with some good monetary rewards. Though one has to admit that Apple always had a focus on the creative industries, which includes music as well, and that certainly was a driving factor in their development and explains also why Mac OS is in may cases a superior platform for digital media creation (thogh as it has been pointed out, these things start to be pretty relative lately).

    So I find it quite ridiculous to publicly thank Steve Jobs, what happened is a complex process and most of the work has been done by third parties. You would not be making music on a mac if people completely unrelated to Jobs or Apple had worked for ages on the software you're using, without them the computer would only be a shiny metal/plastic box. Maybe even Logic wouldn't exist, since Apple bought it from Emagic.

    What certainly was a strong merit of Apple was to provide a platform for all of this. I say was, because I sincerely believe that Apple has recently (or not so recently) taken a decisive turn away from creating professional and reliable tools as they once were famous for. The new way is to provide the masses with relatively affordable and trend-conscious technological devices for media and information consumption. Creative professionals are no longer a focus. Final Cut X demonstrates this shift perfectly imho. We are also experiencing a slow degrade in the quality of the devices (laptops tend to die earlier, software fot buggier). This has certainly to do with how these devices are built (relying on cheap workforce from the far east), but also with the fact that a consumer grade devices nowadays doesn't require that much of a lifespan after all. it's a general problem of the IT sector, but Apple makes so much revenue that it could invest a bit more in the quality of its products, take into consideration the needs of professionals as well as (last but really not least) in the working conditions and of its factories.

    Jobs certainly played an important role in all of this. After all it was him who got Apple out of near-failure with the shift to a more consumer oriented approach (imacs, ipods and so on), and this is not going to change now that he left his post, or will it?

  • http://www.hicox.com plurgid

    @Hanzo … People are like seeds. Organizations are like gardens. Great people exist in all big organizations, but they only flourish in some. Sometimes the garden is a barren wasteland, great people land there, work for a while (maybe incredibly hard) but it gets them and the organization nowhere.

    Steve Jobs may well be an awful person … I really don't know because I've never met him. What he definitely wasn't was "just another manager". Wherever this dude went … Apple, NeXT, Pixar … he created a fertile garden. He planted good people, and made sure their efforts flourished, and the garden bore fruit which enriched … hell CHANGED the entire damn world.

    I think that's the reason people feel a debt of gratitude to Jobs (myself included) … because he not only made companies that made great things, but he also provided inspiration in a way … you knew that there was at least one place out there in the world where quality and inspiration MATTERED.

    I must admit, I do have concerns that this ethos will be lost now that he's gone from Apple.

  • http://www.otownmedia.com Richard Lainhart

    Regardless of Job's personality, and what I haven't seen mentioned here that is of particular historical relevance to this community, is that from the beginning, the Macintosh was a system that natively supported audio, when no other available system did. The very first Macintosh had built-in audio, and even a line-out, so it could be used, in a primitive way, as an audio platform – no other desktop system of any kind at that time could do anything more than beep (at least not without third-party hardware). It's that fundamental level of system support that allowed the Macintosh to become a platform for music innovation that led the way for Atari, Amiga, and the various DOS platforms later.

    The first MIDI interface was for the Mac; the first commercial audio editor; the first MIDI sequencer and MIDI editor/librarian; the first music app that used internal sounds; the first commercial interactive composition and performance application; the first graphics-and-audio performance app. Without those innovations, possible because of the system-level support in the Macintosh platform, much of what we take as commonplace today would never have happened.

  • sletz

    At the time of Apple MIDI Manager, FreeMIDI, and OMS, there was another system called MidiShare…. (http://midishare.sourceforge.net/). Still working today, more than  20 years later…

  • Peter Kirn

    @Richard: That's a good point – I believe that audio was first available in that form on the Macintosh (or, probably historically, Lisa). There were add-on cards for the other machines, but not the kind of digital audio capabilities out-of-the-box on the Macintosh.

    What's your source on the first computer MIDI interface, though? My understanding was that Roland's MPU-401 was the first computer MIDI interface, and it was not initially available on the Mac. I actually wonder which platform it did support first; I assume it was most commonly used with the Apple II and Commodore 64 via adapter kits. But I don't know which machine was first demoed, or in which order those platforms were supported. 

  • Peter Kirn

    I should say, MPU-401 was most commonly used by end users on Apple II or C64 because of software availability and cost. I believe the reference platform at Roland was the IBM PC. But I believe the original Macintosh lagged in support for MIDI, partly because of the lack of expendability and its initially prohibitively high cost.

  • Aaron

    "The first MIDI interface was for the Mac; the first commercial audio editor; the first MIDI sequencer and MIDI editor/librarian; the first music app that used internal sounds; the first commercial interactive composition and performance application; the first graphics-and-audio performance app"

    I call horse-shit on every one of these claims. Additionally, "commercial" means absolutely nothing when it comes to firsts.

    Speaking of Lisa and it's once worthless, unused and experimental audio.. have you seen LisaX? http://www.steim.org/steim/lisa.html

  • LeMel

    The negative parts of Mr. Jobs reputation as a manager are fact-based and widely known. It will be part of his legacy, and perhaps it's better that he not try to counter-spin or suppress the critics who worked with/for him, but just admit that he stepped on necks. His successes speak for themselves, after all, and he will go down as one the great American stories.

    At Apple, the design group is either at or near the top of the food chain. Most companies don't have the guts to let that happen. That is Mr. Job's doing. The question is, will design remain so prominent? It almost never does, so it would be remarkable if it did. Tim Cook is a sales and operations guy. To see what handing a company from a creator over to a sales & ops guy looks like, see Microsoft – there's both good and bad. 

    Yes, a dig at Mr. Cook is unfair and empty words. It doesn't seem that Jobs has the bent to look for a visionary successor (perhaps one doesn't exist) but fortunately his influence will continue as Chairman. I'm just trying to say that a truly visionary successor to Steve Jobs is probably a generation away at least, and his shadow may be a difficult place from which to achieve the greatness shareholders and fans alike expect. 

  • mediawest

    in 85 our studio got one of the first mac128k's…. in 85 a guy named dave oppenheimer realized that this machine was able to port midi, and created the first interface for midi, and we beta tested his new software called opcode. as midi was fairly new to the studio scene, this was a holy grail of control and storage we had never seen before… then came sound designer [which became protools] that would let us port early samplers like the prophet and emu, and edit and store our 2 second samples!…

    the next year guys in LA took our mac, hard wired in 4 boards of 256k ram [very expensive at that time] that gave us 4 megs, and installed a 20meg hard drive that cost us $1200 in 86! we thought what the hell are we going to do with 20 megs?!!!!

    the original mac will forever be the computer that truly changed the music and content creation scene, for better or worse…..

    unfortunately, the better the gear gets the worse the music does….

  • m.kenwood

    ^–above storying using the kit supplied by Roland. It is an incomplete quote and out of context. Real facts:

    Released around 1984, the original MPU-401 was an external breakout box providing MIDI IN/MIDI OUT/MIDI THRU/TAPE IN/TAPE OUT/MIDI SYNC connectors, for use with a separately-sold interface card/cartridge ("MPU-401 interface kit") inserted into a computer system. For this setup, the following "interface kits" were made:

    MIF-APL: For the Apple II.

    MIF-C64: For the Commodore 64.

    MIF-FM7: For the Fujitsu FM7.

    MIF-IPC: For the IBM PC/IBM XT/IBM AT.

    MIF-MSX: For the MSX.

    MIF-PC8: For the NEC PC-88.

    MIF-PC98: For the NEC PC-98.

    MIF-X1: For the Sharp X1.

  • mediawest

    We had 2 401's, while they did some interfacing with other than macs, they were cumbersome, and hard to program, were most used for midi to smpte sync….

    but i guess you were there at the original midi meetings with dave smith and dave oppenheimer, and tom oberheim, as there were not hard standards for midi and sync. the only working standard for sync and midi control was oberheims early ob systems, that only worked with oberhiems stuff….. opcode and OMS were and still are the defacto midi control standard, still used today…. including gen. midi……

    also all those computers software were woefully bad, and didnt have a GUI like the mac128…..

  • martha lopez

    I did not know that Apple and Microsoft worked together to create software.