Anniversary of the First Apple Mac

Script of a talk delivered in chapel to the Sixth Form:

Do you know what is special about today for all lovers of Apple products?
On this day 29 years ago, believe it or not, the first Apple Mac was released. The year was 1984 - the same year as the Los Angeles Olympics. As it happens California was the place to be that year. I went there myself, spending the summer there and managing to catch a Olympic football match in the process - Egypt vs USA.
That first Apple, though it looks ridiculously simple to us now, was a revolutionary device. It was the first personal computer to make use of a mouse. It was also the first computer to adopt a GUI - with a Mac no longer was computing to be the reserve of nerds. Anyone could use this machine, pointing and clicking at the graphics on the screen. It got its name from the McIntosh Red, a type of apple.
The first Mackintosh had a beige case, a floppy disk drive and a simple screen. It also cost a lot more that today's typical personal computers: $2495. Despite it's apparent simplicity it was a revolutionary machine, changing the landscape of computing for good. Apple, and Steve Jobs in particular, saw themselves as smashing conformity. In an advert released that year they showed how the new Mac prevented the dystopian future envisaged by George Orwell for 1984 from ever occurring.
Apple famously started in the garage of Steve Job's parents. But it's evident that Steve Jobs was ambitious right from the start. In poaching an early employee from Pepsi Jobs asked: "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world."
So what does all this mean for us in 2013? It is tempting to think that times have moved on, that the market is now too crowded and that potential for a good idea to transform the world has diminished. Just last week the Economist had a leading article that argued as much.
But I don't believe that. Let me read you a little passage from the Telegraph that I spotted recently:

A south London schoolboy has launched an Apple iPhone app this week, after raising $1m (£620,000) from investors before his 17th birthday.

Nick D’Aloisio, who lives with his family and still gets an allowance every month, developed the app, Summly, in between revising for his mock GCSEs last year.

Summly condenses news articles into three key paragraphs that fit onto an iPhone screen. Users can customise the news categories, and link to the original article if they like the summary. A prototype attracted an investment of around $300,000 in November 2011 from Horizons Ventures , the private technology investment company of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing also a backer of Facebook, Siri and Spotify.

The investment arrived on Nick’s 16th birthday making him one of the youngest people ever to attract venture capital funding. Other backers include the celebrities Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Fry and Yoko Ono.

The prototype was downloaded more than 150,000 times and was chosen by Apple as its App of the Week in the UK and other countries. A company was created behind the app, and Nick teamed up with experts in London, and the Stanford Research Institute, to work on the technology and design.

Nick’s mother, a full-time lawyer, became a director and owns shares on his behalf.

“I designed Summly because I felt that my generation wasn’t consuming traditional news anymore," said Nick.

So what does this mean for us? Be adventurous, think big thoughts, don't assume that you don't have what it takes to make a big splash.

As we're in chapel, let us pray:

Lord Jesus as we sit in chapel

We thank you for creating apple

For all the bites and ram and bits

For all successful internet hits

We thank you for creating mice

for Netflix which is really nice

We thank you for online games

and for those little website frames

But most of all we thank you Lord,

For keeping us from getting bored

And supplying with your infinite skill

Software that is just so brill

It finds the right ending phrase

So to you be honour and be praise!

Amen.


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