What if Steve Jobs had stayed in Green Bay?
Okay, so Steve Jobs never technically lived in Green Bay. But as story after story noted following his recent passing, his biological mother was from Green Bay. She and Jobs’ biological father traveled to San Francisco to have their baby, gave him up for adoption there, moved back to the Green Bay area, and the rest is history.
It also seems likely that Jobs was conceived in Green Bay, which means there’s a better than negligible chance that you’re navigating this website with a mouse instead of a keyboard because Kroll’s West had a special on 8-ounce tappers of Hamm’s one sultry summer’s eve back in ’54.
So now that the numerous encomiums to Jobs have yielded to the inevitable backlash (guess what, he was a revolutionary thinker and a genius, but kind of a jerk sometimes), it may finally be safe to engage in some harmless counterfactual fun. We know that the computer industry would have suffered mightily had Jobs grown up in the Midwest, since he wouldn’t have lived in California and would have never been exposed to the Silicon Valley zeitgeist of the mid- to late-‘70s. But how else might the world have changed?
Indeed, what if Steve Jobs – or rather, Steve Jobs’ genius DNA – had stayed in Green Bay?
I suggest an alternate timeline. Of course, some elements may sound familiar. Let’s just say some things are fate, eh?
1955: Jobs is born on Feb. 24. The first three words he hears are, “It’s a boy.” The fourth is “cri-,” followed quickly by “-hey.”
1962: Jobs attends his first Packers game and vows never to leave Green Bay. The collective Jungian unconscious shudders a bit, but deep down knows his happiness is the most important thing.
1972: Jobs drops out of college after one semester to escape the intellectually stifling constraints of a hidebound educational system, and also to devote more time to smeltin’.
1974: While working at a local supper club, Jobs begins to attend meetings of the Cream Puff Baking Club with high school friend Steve Wozniak. Both are excited about the recent advances in supper club fare.
1975: Feeling restless and spiritually bereft, Jobs feels compelled to travel east to seek answers to some of mankind’s most vexing and venerable mysteries. He gets as far as Manitowoc, where he drinks 11 Kingsburys at the Left End and passes out in Fuzzy Thurston’s cousin’s van. He would later say this experience opened his mind to the true nature of reality and the universe’s one pure, clear, immutable, and eternal truth – never mix Jaegermeister with tequila.
1976: On April 1, Jobs and Wozniak open Apple Supper Club on Lombardi Avenue, next to the Red Lobster. Ironically, there are no apples or any other kind of fruit, fruit derivative, vegetable matter – or indeed anything green, imitation green, or off-green – on the menu.
1979: During a visit to California, Jobs has a chance meeting in a bar with a researcher from Xerox PARC in Palo Alto. The researcher bemoans the fact that Xerox is not taking advantage of the graphical user interface his team has developed, and draws a mockup of the icon-based interface on a napkin. Unfortunately, just as the researcher is handing the drawing to Jobs, Eddie Lee Ivery rips up his knee in the Packers’ season opener as Jobs watches in disbelief. Jobs wipes away his tears with the napkin, along with the Packers’ – and an entire industry’s – hopes and dreams.
1985: Jobs angers Apple’s board with his plans to revolutionize the iceberg lettuce salad by adding flavor, and he is forced out as CEO. He buys a small video production company and soon dominates the local market. Eventually, people start to complain bitterly about the heavy-handed use of CGI in their babies’ baptism videos, and Jobs sells the company for a tidy profit.
1996: Jobs returns to Apple.
1997: Apple unveils its new advertising slogan, “Think Different Once, An’ So?”
1998: Apple introduces the iCurd. A basket of iCurds does pretty much all the same things other fried cheese curds do, but somehow seems cooler. Soon, hipsters in coffee shops across the country are seen paying top dollar for gourmet curds, and you almost never see a movie scene featuring cheese curds anymore without also seeing the ubiquitous Apple logo.
2001: In a dramatic departure from his work in the restaurant industry, Jobs launches the iPod, a revolutionary portable media device that plays digital audio files. Unfortunately, it only supports Alvin Styczynski MP3s and WTMJ podcasts, and turns out to be an expensive flop.
2003: Destitute and out of ideas, Jobs moves to California to look for work. He hooks up with Microsoft, instantly gets a queasy feeling, and quits the same day. As he leaves the company’s palatial offices, he silently wonders what might have been.
February 2011: The Packers win the Super Bowl, which somehow makes everything seem okay.
October 2011: Jobs dies with his sister by his side. His final words: “Oh, cripes.”
Tom Breuer is a Manitowoc native and former Green Bay resident. His fondness for the home of his beloved Packers can’t be overstated.