Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Lonesome Tale of Burrell Smith

This will be my last "introduction of the iPhone" post. Promise.

I have been mixed up with computers since 1979 and have religiously followed the characters of the Silicon Valley since 1982. I know the history of Apple particularly well, especially around the creation of the Macintosh. Thus, I've become acquainted with the stories of the players in that story.

Let me introduce you to three players in particular, numbered below. 1 is Andy Hertzfeld, one of the software geniuses on the original team (He works at Google now). 2 is Bill Atkinson, another of the software geniuses (he invented Hypercard, created the original MacPaint program, started General Magic, and is now an acclaimed photographer). And 3 is Burrell Smith, considered the hardware genius behind the product.


Here's another photo of them, taken on the day the Macintosh was unveiled. You can see how exuberant they look. Notice another circled face, that of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.


Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since those photos were taken (incredibly...) So fast-forward to the present.....well, last Friday, when I was hanging around the Palo Alto Apple store. And look who wanders in......none other than Steve Jobs!

Now, you've got to recognize what a big deal this is. It's iPhone day. And this store is the epicenter of techies and geek-freaks. And Steve Jobs shows up. It would be like having a unveiling of a major new edition of the Bible and God beams down for a visit. You can imagine the reaction. So in this clip you see him checking out the store and deciding to go back across the street to grab his wife and bring her in too.


And once they are in the store, Jobs immediately sees the aforementioned Andy Hertzfeld (who, 30 seconds into the clip, you can hear saying "Bill stayed here all night", referring to Atkinson) and, at 1:00 into the clip, you can see Jobs amble over to Atkinson to chat with him a while. So it's like a micro-reunion.


So where was Burrell? That, to me, is kind of the sad part.

My understanding is that after the Macintosh-crazed 80s, he ran into some issues. Suffice it to say that I see him on the street at least a couple of times a month. He has a very long beard, partly grey. He walks at a quick pace, but looking at the sidewalk the entire time. And, to a random stranger, he might even look like a homeless guy (although I'm pretty sure he's living comfortably and likes to make regular jaunts to Whole Foods to get out and about).

What's striking to me is that most people would really assume he's just another homeless guy, without realizing what a major figure this person was in computers - and the Mac in particular - today. And his absence from all the excitement in the video above just reminded me of the juxtaposition. Because as the accidental reunion was taking place, their missing member was probably alone, walking to the grocery store, stare affixed to the sidewalk, destined to pick up another quart of milk.

31 comments:

Debbie Davis said...

Hi Tim,
Great iPhone coverage; thanks! How do you like yours?

What do you think of WWAT on a 10 year chart? There seems to be a lot of interest, but is it just "green" mania?

Tim Knight said...

The iPhone is great. Room for improvement, but great.

WWAT is just amazing, but it's not really chartable. Just a rocket ship. Not that kind of thing I'd go near (which means nothing; it's just not really in a position to be charted).

philippe said...

I didn't know you were so close to the Mac scene.
Only one word comes to mind : respect!

Market Speculator said...

If there wasn't any room for improvement how could they upsell you with another GREAT iPHONE???

LOL

Pierce said...

anybody tempted to short RIMM at these levels?

Tim Knight said...

"anybody tempted to short RIMM at these levels?"

No way. I have the attitude to RIMM that I do with GOOG. I just hide in the corner, quivering.

beanie11111 said...

BIDU on fire!

beanie11111 said...

WWAT is both a solar and water play. And you already know solar is hot hot hot!

WWAT is headed to $10

Tim Knight said...

Awesome comments, as always, beanie.

philippe said...

Ok, call me crazy, but I bought 500 puts on RIMM (expiration 21/07) at 6,3.
Like john Wayne said, it's a rotten job, but somebody's gotta do it.

philippe said...

Forgot : strike price 210, symbol RFYSB

Tim Knight said...

You bought $315,000 worth of puts on RIMM? That expire THIS MONTH?

Excuse me, it's very crowded in here due to the size of your balls.

Are you kidding us?

Leisa said...

Tim,

A poignant post. Thank you.

beanie11111 said...

BIDU freakin blowing thru the roof!!!

Mega short killer!


$500 within a year!

philippe said...

No no, 3,150$. 5 contracts at 100 puts each.
I'm crazy, but not that crazy.

beanie11111 said...

Stubborn shorties will likely be destroyed this week.

Believe it!

Gary said...

speculator,
I hope you decided against shorting the Q's at 47.70.

Gary said...

So sorry it was Controlled trader who was going to short the Q's. My apologies Speculator.

Controlled Trader said...

Gary: I shorted at 47.80 and around 47.95. Bulls are putting up show on low volume.

See the daily chart of Q. You will find volume dryup when it reaches 48. Today is no different (I agree that volume is low because of 4th July). This trade will take longer to work out but I don't always expect profit in few mintues.

Can't win all the trades and this could be on of the losers. Thanks for checking back.

Market Speculator said...

gary no worries...

John said...

"Are the bulls losing their grip"

Nope appears to be the answer. I was in Hilton Head, SC on vacation a month ago and my father in law bought BIDU calls. Pretty ballsy considering the mkt had just got smoked down 175. Needless to say he has made a fortune....I was buying ALB and CEG puts. I am feeling the heat big time and we only have 3 weeks to expiration. He's probably ordering a new Merc.

Zhengyu said...

Grew a moustache while working at Apple solely to increase his chances of promotion. Folklore.org: "It's The Moustache That Matters"

Often amused members of the Macintosh development team with impersonations of other employees (including Jef Raskin). Folklore.org: "I Invented Burrell"

According to "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs" by Alan Deutschman, Steve Jobs filed for a temporary restraining order against Burrell. Terms were to limit him from coming within 100 yards of the Jobs' family, nanny, car, and office. This was done in response to reports of Burrell throwing rocks and cherry bombs at Steve Jobs' house and car.

JakeGint said...

The line between genius and insanity is so very thin. A shame, but not an unusual one. At least he's got the bucks to see him through.

Locster said...

Tim, you d man blogging about Burrel Smith. All the homeless people out there have a story, not all with perhaps with juxtaposition that Burrel's has, but equally saddening no doubt.

I think we should start a Burrel Smith fan club.

stockshaker said...

Ms. Jobs is hot!

(I am an aspiring "kept man")...

william bills said...

this is what i don't get Tim - you know, probably better than most americans, the power of AAPL and Jobs, especially amongst the trendy, hell, even you bought one; and yet, your short AAPL?

i know the stock has anticipated much of this growth, but, its time to start pricing in christmas -which you know as well as anybody is gonna blow the doors off all expectations.

the stock is trading at around 34 times 07 estimates - which are going to be revised up.

AAPL cracks 200 by new years

Fund said...

Nice vid of a Ebay seller getting pawnd

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a76_1183278403

Karen N. said...

Burrell Smith went a bit mad and in the early 90s actually got arreseted for throwing cherry bombs at Steve Job's house. I'm not kidding.

So out of all the people Jobs has pissed off, he was the only guy to actually do something. Kudos.

wmoecke said...

Burrel Smith, the hardware Genius, second brilliant star standing next to the mighty Woz.

Wherever you are, fear not. Take a good look at Steve Jobs' present pictures as he resigned from Apple - nothimg much to add, as he looks more like a decaying old man in his 90's being only 56. So much for the acclaimed "genius" of Apple.

Remember, dear Burrell, as you contemplate these: at the emd of one's life, that's what one gets, after having stomped over so many good people such as yourself.

Yeah - I guess it's only fair to say it finally caught up with him.

God bless Burrell Smith, Andy Hertzfeld, Bill Atkinson and Steve Wozniak.

So long, Steve. Should have been gone much earlier.

anucha said...

wow! great stuff man. I am sad though, about Burrell Smith. I read from 'The Second Coming of Steve Jobs" and found a page talking about him throwing rocks to Jobs's house because Job's humiliated him in front of his colleagues years ago in the Mac hey days and he quits Apple because of that.

After sitting in front of Steve's house, throw rocks to several of the windows and got arrested but that didn't get me until i read he had a mental illness and hardly got recovered. I wonder where how he is now. A great guy like this doesn't deserve this really.

lisamarley .lisamarley said...

Thank you for this article, I watched the movie last night about Steve Jobs, played by Ashton Kutcher, in some ways I have found Steve to be sometimes heartless, it looks like he gave some revenge because their original parents gave him up for adoption, so he was avoid his 1st daughter, and he was not so kind to his old friends, personally I think he's not a man who is so good to be a role model