..and that day has now come. Steve Jobs 1955-2011
The day that everyone has expected for the last couple of year has come. Today, Steve Jobs passed away at 56.
I was lucky enough to have met him once at a computer show in New York City in 1979. That same year my father loaned me over $2,500 with which I bought my first Apple ][. That year, with that computer I started my first software business while in high school and started doing what I would do every single day from that day on to today: writing software. For most of 30 years I have written software for machines made by Apple.
The impact of Steven P. Jobs cannot be underestimated: Politicians may rise and fall; movie stars will shine and fade; and fads may come and go... but the design and clarity of function that Steve Jobs brought to bear on the products that make life itself more connected, more engaging, and in fact fundamentally more fun will live on for decades.
Steve invented and continually reinvented a whole host of industries:
In the 1970s he & Steve Wozniak literally invented the personal computer industry by making a computer that anyone could use in the form of the Apple ][.
In the 1980s with the Mac, Jobs and the Mac team did it again. At the same time he invented a whole new way to automate computer assembly with the pioneering Mac plant in Fremont, CA.
In the late 80s he created NeXT and brought together the team who would mainstream the practice of Object-Oriented programming with NeXTstep.
In the 1990s coming back to Apple, he reinvented both Apple and the personal computer industry again with the original iMac that made computers cute, colorful and practically edible.
Also in the 1990s he took a small Lucas-film animation studio and helped turn it into the world's most creative story-telling company: Pixar
In the 2000s, more and better Macs, the MacBook Air and the iPod family, the iPhone family and of course the iPad.
Software? Where to start: OSX, iTunes, Final Cut, Shake, too many industry changing/reinventing packages to name.
And all along the way, Jobs' innovations and the execution/realization of these ideas by thousands of amazing engineers at Apple, then NeXT, and Pixar and back (again) at Apple caused revolutions in dozens of other industries, from miniaturization in almost every aspect of computer components and micro-eletronics, to new ways of packaging products, better batteries, better software design, and product prototyping and manufacturing processes. He reinvented how films and music are created and produced.
Talk about a life well lived! So much inspiration, so much accomplishment!
His untimely death makes me think of these lovely words by (my favorite, and) one of Americas greatest poets, Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass:
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is, any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say, Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic;
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white;
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you, curling grass;
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men;
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people, and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mothers’ laps;
And here you are the mothers’ laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers;
Darker than the colorless beards of old men;
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death;
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-wash’d babe,and am not contain’d between my hat and boots;
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good;
The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
I am not an earth, nor an adjunct of an earth;
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself;
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)
Steve Jobs has left us, but the ideas and inspiration he infused into this world will not die. No one will accept mediocre design in consumer electronics (or most other products) ever again. Steve’s dream of beauty in both form and function has become the benchmark upon which every product is judged.
Clearly he has trained a very deep bench of management and engineers and designers at Apple in how to look at the world in way that is about the quality of the human experience over the simple composition of mere electronics or the rigidity of lines of code. Apple will create products that innovate, amaze and delight for many decades to come.
Steve Jobs’ legacy will be his ability to dream, to push, to create and to inspire others to dream and push and create. To never settle for just what will pass as “okay,” but to spend your time beautifully, wisely, and to make the world a better place becuase you were here.
That legacy has been also infused into thousands of indie Mac and iOS developers who try to live that dream every single day. To dream, to push, to create: to dedicate their lives to the creation of beautiful and inspirational things.
Steve left behind objects into which we infuse our passion, our interests, our dreams and our love of life. How many pictures of people whom you love are in your iPhone, you iPodTouch or your iPad? How many Apple devices bring the power of speech to the voiceless, independence to the (formerly) shut-in, and connect you with your life and with those whom you love?
Talk about a life well lived!
Thank you, Steve. Thank you for inspiring me at the age of 16 and setting me onto my life’s work.
Thank you Laurene Jobs for supporting and caring for him and sharing him with us.
Thank you to all of the thousands of Apple and Pixar and NeXT and Apple (again) employees for turning his vision and inspiration into reality and who will keep his passion alive…