Not Invented There

Fortune Magazine has an article about flavour of the year glitzy phone seller Steve Jobs (yes, the Apple guy) and manages to serve up some beautiful mythmaking all too typical when fetishising journalists and bloggers write about the people who make their shiny boxes:

Jobs conceived of “desktop publishing,” gave the world the laser printer, and pioneered personal computer networks.

This is all, of course, complete shite.

Desktop publishing was invented in 1985 by Aldus for its “PageMaker” application, and named as a genre by Paul Brainerd.

The laser printer was invented by Xerox in the late 1960s, sold first commercially as a mainframe option by IBM in the 1970s, and then sold to small businesses in the early 1980s by first Xerox, and then slightly later by Hewlett-Packard. Apple’s later “LaserWriter” was a basically a rebadged Canon printer so similar to the HP that you could swap parts between them.

It’s unclear what “pioneering” personal computer networks actually means, but it’s pretty clear that Jobs’ contribution here is being oversold. The Internet’s predecessor network, the ARPANet, was created in the late 1960s out of work on packet switching by Donald Davies, Paul Baran, and Leonard Kleinrock and implemented largely by Kahn/Cerf/Zimmerman/LeLann/Pouzin. The faceless wizards of the International Telecommunication Union birthed X.25 in the early 1970s to enable commercial packet switching, while Tom Jennings’s FidoNet and Usenet (Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis and Steve Bellovin) made it possible for users to circulate porn and spam anywhere in the world for virtually no cost. Meanwhile, on the smaller scale, the first local area networks were deployed in the 1960s in labs and military facilities, IBM’s Olof Söderblom invented the Token Ring network in the late-1960s, Robert Metcalfe and David Boggs at Xerox invented Ethernet in the mid-1970s, John Murphy’s ARCNET became the first widespread LAN in the late-1970s, and Novell, Banyan and 3Com commercialised the first relatively hardware agnostic LANs in the early 1980s. All these names… no Steve Jobs. Apple’s “AppleTalk” LAN system was released in 1984.

This kind of sloppy fabulation is typical of the Adoration of the Magi-level of arse kissing that passes for journalism when it comes to Apple.

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