August 27, 2011

VIRGINIA POSTREL: How Steve Jobs Made Business Cool Again:

To understand the cultural significance of Steve Jobs, you have to go back in time: to before the iPad or iPhone or iTunes, before Apple Inc.’s comeback products made candy-colored plastics and iAnything cool, before Jobs got kicked out of Apple, even before the Macintosh hurled a sledgehammer at Big Brother.

It’s 1981. Most people have never heard of Silicon Valley. The country’s most famous businessman is Lee Iacocca, the head of Chrysler Corp. He’s famous because in 1979 he engineered a government bailout — loan guarantees — that saved the company. He’s also famous because, unlike his peers, Iacocca is colorful. He seems to believe in what he’s doing.

In 1981, business executives aren’t known for either personality or passion. The general public sees business as a boring, impersonal, possibly suspect activity. Its significance seems purely financial. . . . That was all about to change.

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