I’m reading ‘Founders at Work’ at the moment (quite an interesting read, I’ll probably summarise the key issues in a later post). I know (or knew anyway) a lot about the start of the computer industry, having created a course on it, so I was more interested in the net start ups. But there is an interview with Steve Wozniak in there, in which he says of the Apple II (my italics)
"It was just open to all these things. We made it easy for anyone to do what they wanted to do. And I think that was one of the biggest keys to its success. We didn’t make it a hidden machine that we own…
We put out manuals that had just hundreds of pages of listings of code, descriptions of circuits, examples of boards that you would plug in – so that anyone could look at this and say ‘Now I know how I would do my own.’ … So one of our big keys to success was that we were very open. There’s a big world out there for other people to come and join us."
Now fast forward 28 years or so and you’d struggle to say that about a single Apple product now wouldn’t you? For instance, Ray Corrigan has a post of Apple’s latest round of digital locks, including the iPhone ring tunes eraser. None of this follows from Wozniak’s description above, so how did a company so open become one so closed?