I stepped into the Detroit Bureau of the Wall Street Journal and started on what would be a long, varied, rewarding career. I was 23 years old, and the year was 1970. That’s not a typo.
So it seems fitting to me that I’ll be retiring this coming June, almost exactly 47 years later.
And, in the best professional decision of my life, I converted myself into a tech columnist in 1991. As a result, I got to bear witness to a historic parade of exciting, revolutionary innovation — from slow, clumsy ancient PCs to sleek, speedy smartphones; from CompuServe and early AOL to the mobile web, apps and social media.
Mossberg undersells himself: a necessary prerequisite to “convert[ing him]self into a tech columnist” was inventing the very concept. That I had to make such an observation — was there really a time in recent history in which major publications did not have someone focused on technology? — is itself a testament to Mossberg’s vision.
Mossberg was Steve Jobs’ favorite columnist — and Mossberg a frequent admirer of Apple’s products — because both had the same vision: bringing these geeky, impenetrable, and rather ugly boxes of wires and chips and disks called personal computers to normal people, convinced said computers could, if only made accessible, fundamentally transform a user’s life.
Before Mossberg, tech writing was for tech enthusiasts. Mossberg is a tech enthusiast, but what he did at The Wall Street Journal is bring enthusiasm for tech — particularly the personal computer industry — to a truly mainstream audience. His influence — especially during his years at the Journal — is impossible to overstate.
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