|Macintosh 128K Home Computer, |
designed by Steve Jobs and Jerry Manock, 1984.
Museum of Modern Art, via ARTstor.
1. Technology should be transparent. The best technology is invisible. It requires no thought. With the Mac operating systems, writers could write and designers could design without ever having to worry about how the software affected their work (or at least not the part provided by Apple… if you’re stuck using Microsoft Office applications, however, it’s a different story…). As designers and visual artists, we could move images and ideas between applications seamlessly and intuitively. We became experts in using software without opening manuals. The technology was transparent.
2. Design matters. Not styling – the part where you gussy up something in a shiny package – but design, the resolution of functional concerns in the most elegant manner possible. Apple’s industrial design is integral to the seamless interconnections between applications and operating systems. Yes, the computers are beautiful, but all the more so because they are a delight to use.
3. Innovation matters. Too much of our economy seems predicated on the practice of repackaging successful ideas in cheaper or more popular forms. Apple’s success has always come from answering questions that had never been asked before. The Apple II computers I used in high school thirty years ago were initially dismissed by an industry that assumed it would only build machines for large corporations and institutions. The graphic user interface at the heart of every operating system was likewise treated with disdain by experts who couldn’t see a need to make technology transparent and intuitive. iPods? An expensive toy. iPhones? Why bundle a computer, camera and MP3 player into an expensive cell phone? iPads? You get the picture. In no case did Apple have to convince people to buy equipment they didn’t need; these innovations quickly found an audience eager to adapt the new technology to their lives. [In case you were wondering, 15% of tin box visitors access the blog on mobile devices, and another 35% read us on their Macs.]