Apple Computer still on fire; my memories

My history with Apple Computer is a lengthy one – both in my work and play.

I first wrote about Apple as a reporter at The Chronicle in 1983, just after I joined the paper.

Reporter Gayle Schares and I broke some stories about how John Sculley had orchestrated an ouster of Steve Jobs from the computer startup he had founded.

It was tragic: how the board turned against its founder for a soda pop salesman. (I can’t provide links, because it was before The Chronicle had an Internet database; stories were clipped by hand in the library and stored in envelopes with each reporter’s name on it).

I wrote about Apple for many years at The Chronicle, including how a guy named Gil Amelio was hired to supposedly rescue Apple. As it turned out, Amelio almost ruined the computer maker (though he did land a McMansion on the shores of Lake Tahoe, and it sold for a record price at the time).

Then, when I joined CNET, we broke the news late at night about how Jobs sold his Next Computer to Apple, clearing the way for his comeback. It was a pioneering effort of original reporting on the Internet, later taken for granted – and now a fading memory in the era of “big oven,” AKA, cost-cutting journalism.

I laugh when I hear print staffs complain about posting Web “briefs,” compared to the multi-story (and award-winning) packages we produced then. We won a National Magazine Award at CNET, something reserved for the likes of Time and the New Yorker. The awards ceremony is held at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan.

At CNET, I helped orchestrate a journalism triumph when it comes to Apple: persuading Jobs to meet with the staff for a two-hour tete a tete on Apple’s future plans. Turned out, he nailed the plan: expanding beyond the computer into iPods and iPhones.

Along the way, I’ve become an Apple fan. In 2000 we bought our first Mac – a G4 tower – and we’re now big Mac fans.

This week, I upgraded to an iMac with twice the power for one quarter of the price – a testament to the power of computing. We still own a PC, though, for the Word and Excel programs (though you can buy them for a Mac).

Our family also bought some stock in Apple along the way – *after* we moved here and I stopped covering it. My investing philosophy: If you like the product *and* understand it, invest in it. (I’m not a big fan of McDonalds, though I guess the stock has done OK.)

Apple has been a “win-win-win” for our family: in my career, in the product and later, as stockholders.

Steve Jobs is sick now, and we are hoping for a recovery. (A cancer such as his is tough to beat).

We talk a lot about jump-starting our economy, but it’s people such as Steve Jobs, not a government-led “economic stimulus” package, that make it happen.

I’ve followed California’s history for my lifetime, and Apple Computer takes up many chapters.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

One thought on “Apple Computer still on fire; my memories”

  1. In the 80s I was a systems programmer at SLAC (the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, home of the original Homebrew Computer Club).

    From the middle of that decade and into the nineties, after the IBM PC had established its dominant market share, one of my jobs was microcomputer consultant. During that early period — no matter how technically superior the Mac — most varieties of non-Mac PCs gave much more “bang for the buck.” (If you didn’t count all the blue screens and other grief with Microsoft’s products! 🙂 ).

    I spent my final decade (in this century) at Stanford as a network engineer (building and maintaining the wireless network on campus) and I lost touch with the economics of PCs.

    But, by the way, as a network engineer I had many occasions to bemoan the inferior network security in Microsoft’s software in those early years. The university paid mightily for this, not the least in staff time defending against security breaches.

    Today, iPods are my pals. But I use them primarily for listening to podcasts of shows such as Thom Hartmann’s daily 3-hour radio show (only about 1 1/2 hours with no commercials), NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” “Forum,” “Science Friday,” “NOW,” “Moyers’ Journal, “”Intelligence Squared” (Oxford-style debate), and much else.

    Someone should write an article on the enormous audio riches out there available as podcasts. I usually fall asleep at night listening to some of this material, and often plug in during the “wee” hours (you old guys will understand this reference) when I can’t get back to sleep.

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