You probably think it’s strange to put these two luminaries together – one a lesser-known Australian publisher and entrepreneur and the other an international icon in personal computing. But the thing is, you see, that besides the fact that they both died this week – from cancer – Gribble and Jobs both entered my life in the mid 1980s. And their impact was significant. I have consequently decided to add my cyberspace tribute to these two people.
Di Gribble first. With Hilary McPhee, Di Gribble established a significant small Australian publishing house, McPhee Gribble. That was in 1975, but the real impact for me was about a decade later when I returned to reading Australian literature with a renewed enthusiasm – and it was through imprints like McPhee Gribble that Aussie literature was encouraged and promoted. McPhee Gribble were, in fact, the first to publish Helen Garner, Murray Bail and Tim Winton, all of whom I have reviewed here. Wonderful Australian writers, and we’ll surely be seeing tributes from them in the coming days and weeks. The company was sold to Penguin in 1989, with Gribble and McPhee going onto other things – but remaining in the Australian literature fold. Gribble’s post-McPhee Gribble ventures included the publishing company Text Media (later also sold, and still going strong as Text Publishing) and the independent digital media publishing company Crikey. She was, as they say, a goer – and we, in Australia at least, will miss her.
(You may also like to read Lisa’s tribute at ANZLitLovers)
And now Steve Jobs. Our first personal computer was one home-built by Mr Gums in the late 1970s. It was a great little computer – and as a librarian I was of course drawn by its possibilities, particularly for information management and retrieval. Our first database was one to manage our wine cellar! An excellent joint project to test the possibilities. This computer was, however, not particularly user-friendly. Mr Gums, the engineer, was well into DOS command lines but the computer didn’t easily engage we laypeople. Then along came Jobs, and Mr Gums, always on the lookout for improved technologies, saw the new world of personal computers coming. So, in 1985, we bought one of the first Macintosh models available in Australia – and I was hooked. The mouse, the GUI interface with its WYSIWYG style, the continual improvements, not to mention the gorgeous designs (I even loved my often-maligned little clamshell laptop) have kept me in the orchard. Apple products are just so delicious! As most of my friends know, it is hard to separate me from my Mac (not to mention other Apple products, such as my latest gadget, the iPad2). Thanks Steve, we’ll miss you too.