POSITIVELY IMPACTING LIVES
Albert Einstein was the first to say that ‘imagina-tion is more important than knowledge’. If we accept the notion that any young individual can use his or her abilities with a little imagination in tow to find better ways to use social and technical in-terconnections between people, we can conclude then that they inherently hold a potential to positively impact the lives of other individuals and communities in ways that address universal social benefits in a somewhat limitless way.
Allow us to cite a few some well-known cases to highlight what this means:
KEEPER OF THE GATES
- It is 26 November 1976 and a boyish-look-ing 21-year old school dropout by the name of William Henry ‘Bill’ Gates III and his busi-ness partner, 23-year old Paul Allen, regis-ter the trade name “Microsoft” with the Of-fice of the Secretary of the State of New Mexico.
- During Microsoft’s early years, Gates man-ages the business details of Microsoft as CEO but continues to write computer code and personally reviews every single line of it before the company ships them out.
- In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to write the BASIC interpreter (then, a third-generation computer programming language) that would make its upcoming personal computer product work – the IBM PC. Microsoft delivered it to IBM in exchange for a one-time fee of US$ 50,000 as the PC-DOS (or ‘disk operating system’) but did not offer to transfer the copyright, which allowed Microsoft to develop another version called MS-DOS for other hardware vendors to use. As more of these vendors proliferated, sales of MS-DOS made Microsoft a major player in the industry very quickly.
- During the mid-1990s, Microsoft released its web browser Internet Explorer and with subsequent Windows versions redefined its offerings and expanded its product line into computer networking and the World Wide Web. The rest is history. It is estimated that there are over a billion personal computers in the world at present using some version of Windows.
- In 1994, Gates sold some of his Microsoft stock to create the William H. Gates Foundation and in 2000, he and his wife Melinda combined three family foundations into one to create the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – now the largest transparently-operated charitable found-ation in the world. Its primary aims are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty worldwide, and in America, to expand educa-tional opportunities and access to information technology. Time mag-azine has named Bill Gates one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005, and 2006.
THE APPLE BYTES
- In April 1976, a 20-year old by the name of Steven Paul ‘Steve’ Jobs drops out of Reed College in Portland Oregon and, using his parents garage as an office and laboratory, starts a small company called Apple. He manages to interest Steve Wozniak, a self-taught electronics hacker, to collaborate as a business partner in assembling a line of computers to sell it. Together over the next 4-years, they design, develop, and market one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series.
- In the early 1980s, Jobs is among the first to see the commercial potential of a mouse-driven graphical user interface or GUI’s (i.e., human-machine interaction) which leads to the creation of the Mac-intosh. Using images rather than text commands, GUI’s allow people to interact with software programs in computing devices in more ways that not only include microcomputers but also hand-held devices such as MP3 players, portable gaming devices, office equipment and household ap-pliances.
- The techniques that Apple pioneered in computer graphics, operating systems, programming languages, and development environments un-der Steve Jobs’ stewardship are extremely relevant today. These inventions now enable anyone with access to the Internet and the Web to redefine communications which are so deeply rooted in human be-havior and the structures of society because it consists of transmitting information from one to another person.
- In recent years, Apple has branched out, introducing and improving upon other digital appliances. For example, in 2007, Apple entered the cellular phone business by introducing the iPhone – a multi-touch display cell phone; the iPod, and more recently, the easy-to-use iPad – a new category of device that many believe will replace laptops for many people.
- In its fiscal year ending 26 September 2009, Apple had worldwide annual sales of US$ 42.91-billion with 34,300 full-time employees and 2,500 temporary full-time employees worldwide. Apple’s rise is a story of remarkable achievement from an imaginative young man just out of his teens who slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, returned Coke bottles for the five-cent deposits to buy food with, and who walked seven miles across a town every Sunday night to get just one good meal a week at a Hare Krishna temple.
GOOD ‘OL GOOGLE GUYS
- Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (born 21 August 1973) is the son of Russian parents who migrated to America. Brin, who along with Larry Page (born 26 March 1973), himself a son of computer science professors from Mi-chigan USA, are best known as the ‘Google Guys’ because they co-founded Google, Inc. (in September 1998) while both aged 25 were attending Stanford University as Ph.D. candidates.
- At the inception of its founding, Brin and Page announced that Google’s mission was ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ to all. They also declared that Google, Inc.’s culture would reflect its slogan ‘Don’t be evil’. Not surprisingly, Google has designated a Chief Culture Officer, who also serves as the Director of Human Resources, to develop and maintain this culture of work in ways that keep true to the core values upon which it was founded. It is based on an open and flat organisation punctuated with a collaborative environment. Google’s corporate philosophy embodies such casual principles as “you can make money without doing evil,” “you can be serious without wearing a suit,” and “work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun”.
- Google’s core business is based primarily on its search engine and online advertising technology. Over the years, it has released a number of online productivity tools and hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products. Today, it is the world’s largest Internet company and has been listed several times by Fortune Magazines as one of the best companies to work for. In 2004, Google formed a not for-profit philanthropic wing, Google.org, with a start-up fund of US$ 1-billion and in 2008 it announced its “Project 10100” which accepts ideas for how to help communities by allowing Google users to vote on their favorites. Google.org also manages the Google Found-ation, a nonprofit organisation.