Friday, February 24, 2012

A Computer Revolution was Born

Grassroots Capitalism:

The counter-culture of the 1960's originally "scorned computers as the embodiment of centralized control," [Pg. 58, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson]. But eventually, a small contingent of these hippies came to embrace the computer as a possible tool for liberation. Steve Jobs was among them.

The establishment and the giant corporations were resistant to new ways of thinking. Whereas the younger generation had the propensity to imagine a world not yet in existence. Whether it was Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard in 1939 or Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak in 1976, they were able to make this new world a reality by starting their enterprises within a garage.

During the early days of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak struggled, financially. To raise money, they didn't ask for government handouts. Instead, Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus for $1500 and Wozniak sold his HP 65 calculator for $500 [Pg. 62, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson].

Eventually, Apple Computer became a Fortune 500 company. It was through hard work, perseverance, and vision that made it possible.

This type of capitalism rewards innovation. It also gives people freedom, choice and affordability.


Top-down Corporatism:

Now imagine a different scenario. Let's suppose:

  • We had a President Mussolini in the White House in 1976. 
  • IBM were a government-protected monopoly. 
  • There were certificate of need regulations to prevent competition within the high-tech industry. 
  • Government doled out huge subsidies to these corporate behemoths. 
  • It was illegal for the layperson to tinker in computer technology.

Under the above scenario, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak would have been arrested for practicing without a license computer hardware & software activities. Plus working in a garage would have been a zoning violation. Furthermore, they had obtained computer components without a prescription.

Next, President Mussolini signs into law that every American citizen is mandated to buy ComputerCare insurance. His rationale is that without insurance, only the rich can afford computers. Everyone must have universal access.

This type of corporatist model stifles innovation. It's also a recipe for inflation and rationing.


Now let's review. Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak had introduced the personal computer. This was something new. Their business had started in a garage. Initially, only computer geeks had any interest in the product. The established corporations were skeptical. But eventually, it became popular with the general public. The computer revolution was thus born.


Whole Earth Catalog redux:

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. No insurance.

Our next wave of liberation shall be personal ownership of #HealthCare. The new "garage" shall be from the home of Kevin Delaney.

Please follow him at Twitter:!/yintercept


1 comment:

  1. The IBM/Microsoft deal to control the PC market through the operating system hurt the computer industry.

    Of course, the most exciting part of the computer development was the establishment of the Internet, which proved that a massively distributed network will outperform a tightly centralized one every time.

    The experience of AT&T does an even better job demonstrating this. The world of telephone communications was stagnant under the AT&T monopoly. We are finally getting the things like cell phones (the communicators of Star Trek) and video phones that were scifi under AT&T.