Today, Ken Segall is known as the guy who gave Steve Jobs the “i” for the iMac, but in 1990 Ken was helping brand and market the most advanced computer Steve had ever made. It was Ken who had to explain to everyday people, just exactly why NeXT was also the most simple.
Come with us now, and discover the most significant time in computer history on AppStorey.
There is a paradox of computing which is the more advanced a computer is, the simpler it is to operate. Ironically, in computing, achieving greater simplicity also requires ever-greater engineering complexity.
“There is an art to simplicity” —states Ken Segall for AppStorey
Steve Jobs had Ken toiling across two decades as his “ad guy” because in the exceptionally complicated world of computers, Ken is the one to make it simple. As Apple’s Creative Director, Ken re-launched the post-NeXT Apple brand in the 1990s and it was Ken who put that iconic “i” in iMac that ushered in a new era of computing history.
Learn about the moment of creation when the very legs upon which today’s mobile computing world stands were first invented. These software inventions were crafted using the only computer worthy of the moniker “History’s Greatest Computer” for no other computer has had such a great impact or more far-reaching effect on the everyday lives of people across the globe.
No computer has made as great a contribution to the economy or to business or to personal life and communication. Amazingly, the web and the AppStore were created using the very same tools first assembled on Steve Job’s NeXT Computer and are still used to create your iPhone and every one of the apps on it.
NeXT is the true technology behind Steve Job’s return and Apple’s stratospheric rise.
NeXT Computers, Inc. was the computer company Gil Amelio purchased along with an open door for the return of Steve Jobs. A move at the time Mr Amelio surely considered to be a nostalgic return, but soon he would find it to be a return that would usher in his own departure. In 1997, Steve Jobs had actually returned to Apple having the intent to replace Mac OS and make the Mac rely upon NeXT system software.
Today, there is nothing left of the “Mac” operating system. System software is the soul of the computer, it makes a computer what it is and the modern Mac system software was first assembled not by Apple, but by NeXT.
Even after the unceremonious ouster of Apple CEO Gil Amelio, Steve Jobs was not considered the caliber or temperament to be the chief executive of Apple. Steve had to work his way back by turning over the executive staff and even the members of his board of directors.
“This company is in shambles, and I don’t have time to wet-nurse the board. So I need all of you to resign. Or else I’m going to resign and not come back on Monday.” —Steve Jobs, 1997 as iCEO of Apple.
For a time, Steve was even Interim-CEO or just iCEO, another nod to Ken’s marketing genius. Steve had learned to communicate simply as well, shortly after being named iCEO he wrote to Apple’s Board of Directors “This company is in shambles, and I don’t have time to wet-nurse the board. So I need all of you to resign. Or else I’m going to resign and not come back on Monday.”
Ken obsessively promotes clear minded simplicity as the key to success. Ken fostered a kindred connection with Steve and to NeXT. This connection is due to Ken’s ability to see through the complexity of the NeXT Computer and help people see the clean lines and clarity of NeXT advancements in a simple way. Ken and his group created some very high-end brochures and printed advertising for NeXT and later Apple.
Ken is a true believer in the concept of simplicity. Ken has written two books, Insanely Simple and Think Simple…you see a pattern here?
The one thing people think of as Steve Jobs is simple. Steve loved simple; but he didn’t always understand it as well as the people he surrounded himself with did. Ken was the one who inspired Steve to bring simplicity to new heights.
The way to sell computers in 1990 was a big dollar sign advertisement, like a discount store. Most computer advertising at that time were basically a photo showing a bland, functional computer box along with a few numbers showing how much RAM or storage for the buck. It was a complicated proposition and you were expected to know a lot about the way the computer was configured. Importantly, this sort of branding did not speak to simplicity, or the cumbersome experience you have while using the product.
Ken’s career and the computer he first promoted with Steve, would change the world of advertising, computers and the daily lives of people everywhere.
Never before, or since, has one computer been so influential in creating the software foundations we depend upon today. The web to freely distribute information, and the App Store to protect the rights of digital artist’s online.
Ken’s close working relationship with Steve Jobs at NeXT spoke to this special place for the raw beauty of simplicity, the success of simplicity and this story of simplicity.
Learn more about Ken’s work and message as well as the earliest web and the invention of the App Store itself. These creations were all made on this NeXT computer, the simplest complicated computer ever made.
The journey begins here, come join us as AppStorey takes explores this amazing, true and untold story of History’s Greatest Computer.