1964 was a harbinger of the future we now inhabit, but no one knew it at the time. It was the year of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at the University of California Berkeley, the first stirrings of the cultural revolution to come. FSM epitomized the fear of a world dehumanized by mainframe computers controlled by corporations. Yet that same year Marshall McLuhan also first articulated his famous concepts of “the medium is the message,” and his vision of a “global village.”
The genius of Steve Jobs lies in his hippie period and with his time at Reed College, the pre-eminent Liberal Arts college in North America. To his understanding of technology, Jobs brought an immersion in popular culture. In his 20s, he dated Joan Baez; Ella Fitzgerald sang at his 30th birthday party. His worldview was shaped by the ’60s counterculture in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he had grown up, the adopted son of a Silicon Valley machinist. When he graduated from high school in Cupertino in 1972, he said, “the very strong scent of the 1960s was still there. After dropping out of Reed College, a stronghold of liberal thought in Portland, Ore., in 1972, Mr. Jobs led a countercultural lifestyle himself. He told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.