Steve Jobs and newspapers

As Apple stock goes up and down and questions abound about its new iPhone 5C and operating system IOS7, it is worth noting that we are coming up on the second anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs.

Jobs’ inspirational leadership saved Apple from the brink of bankruptcy when he returned as CEO in the late 1990s.

Most people remember that he revived the company by introducing iMacs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. He built Apple into a massive, iconic company that is the international poster child for creativity.

We, however, also remember him from his original tenure with the company he helped found.

In the early 1980s, newspaper production was an expensive, inflexible process. The machines used to produce type were very expensive – and slow. There was no way to combine graphics and type on a computer screen and output them as one piece.

There was very little full color photography in newspapers because each color had to be “stripped” into place on a negative containing the type. Additionally, color photos had to be prepared by very huge expensive scanners – machines that newspapers the size of The Maui News couldn’t afford.

Then along came the Macintosh computer. Suddenly, type and graphics could be combined on a screen. The Macintosh II added color to the mixture. Soon, inexpensive desktop scanners could bring photos and negatives right onto a computer screen. Those scanners hooked right onto the Mac.

All of a sudden, newspapers began to be colorful. Editors discovered they could lay out pages on these computers and What You Saw Is What You Get – WYSIWYG – was born.

Today’s Maui News (and hundreds of other newspapers) is produced on Macintosh computers. The pages go straight from computer to press plates now – not even a need for negatives to burn the plate.

And, it all stemmed from Mr. Jobs’ funny looking little Macintosh computer. His iPods, iPads, iTunes and iPhones revolutionized other industries. But that first Mac with that Graphical User Interface revolutionized ours.

It made our papers faster to create, more colorful to read, and better in general. We may be struggling to deal with the Internet Jobs helped facilitate, but we’re also very grateful for his contributions to our industry.

(Portions of this editorial have appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.