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October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs's 2005 Stanford Commencement Address [John E.]

Inspiring, as always. This is definitely worth a watch today. Quite a life story. The full text is available here if you're at work. There are a few clunkers on here, but Mactrast has a good roundup of notable reactions to his passing.

[Additional thoughts from Andy:] As a tech-geek from way back, the Mac didn't interest me at all until OS X got it running a real operating system (i.e., UNIX) and they ditched Motorola for Intel CPUs. Now, just a few short years later, I have a house full of Macs, iPods, iPads and iPhones and one poor little Windows PC that's hanging on for dear life.

As the chief tech support guy at home, this has made life immeasurably easier. Thanks, Steve Jobs.

But what I really wanted to add to this post has to do with Apple as a force for unbridled capitalism. Kevin Williamson at NRO has a good piece on the same topic that I'll just quote from:

Jobs was sometimes criticized for not being a philanthropist along the lines of Bill Gates ... [but] Mr. Jobs’s contribution to the world is Apple and its products, along with Pixar and his other enterprises, his 338 patented inventions — his work — not some Steve Jobs Memorial Foundation for Giving Stuff to Poor People in Exotic Lands and Making Me Feel Good About Myself. Because he already did that: He gave them better computers, better telephones, better music players, etc. In a lot of cases, he gave them better jobs, too. Did he do it because he was a nice guy, or because he was greedy, or because he was a maniacally single-minded competitor who got up every morning possessed by an unspeakable rage to strangle his rivals? The beauty of capitalism — the beauty of the iPhone world as opposed to the world of politics — is that that question does not matter one little bit.

Spot on! Steve Jobs acting in what Adam Smith referred to as his "rational self-interest" produced products that people wanted because they made their lives better. Whether Jobs was an angel or an SOB was irrelevant.

And a specific example - even though no one at Apple sat down to design a computer for helping teach kids with autism, the iPad has begun to dislocate specialized therapy devices costing 10 times as much, putting needed technology in reach of families who value it for much more productive pursuits than playing Angry Birds.

Steve Jobs and Apple did that. Not some government program.

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posted by Guest Blogger at 01:45 PM

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