I’m sitting here, typing away on my Mac Intel, syncing podcasts to my iPhone, my Powermac G4 self-customed web server humming two feet away, wondering what’s the best way to recall a visionary in writing. It’s tough…a loss like this doesn’t happen everyday.
But it happened and needs to documented by as many as possible. On October 5, 2011, Steven Paul Jobs, Apple co-founder, lost his seven year battle with cancer. He changed how we walk down the street so he must be remembered.
In this generation, no one will deliver the legacy of innovation, creativity and design that Steve Jobs left us. He loved (loved) going to work every day: not because Apple was making billions of dollars (although I’m sure it helped), but because he couldn’t wait to see what the company would think of next.
Being a web developer and making a blanket statement, I see two standout contributions from Jobs. And I have to go all “computer geek” when I talk about the first one: the OS X operating system.
Released in 2001, OS X was UNIX-like operating system based on one of Jobs’ previous creations, Darwin OS. The open source web development community adopted at it lightning speed-the fact that a group dedicated to creating and freely giving away high-quality software were spending four figure amounts on Macs was something I always found humorously ironic.
But they did and as a result, the Mac is out-of-the-box ready for open source web and software development. Steve made sure that an entire generation of programmers had all the tools they needed to potentially change the world. The general public will never fully realize the impact of what Jobs was doing here.
The general public was, however, front-and-center for Jobs’ second key contribution, which was how easy he made home computing. One of the most common things I hear when people compare Macs to Windows-based machines, “You plug in a Mac and it just works.” No setup discs, no multiple virus updates. Macs are simple machines than an average consumer can figure out in little time.
This idea of “simplicity within technology” is best exemplified in the iPhone. For a few years prior to the iPhone’s release, every major mobile player at the time, Nokia, Motorola et al. were all promising to deliver on convergence, the idea that one handheld device would handle all your digital needs. Under Steve Jobs’ watch, Apple delivered it first….and best.
An ex-coworker of mine blogged how she sleeps with her iPhone, letting her boyfriend know that it comes first in the relationship. We are glued to our iPhones for news, music and information, all the while not paying attention to whether or not the cross signal is green. Yes, Steve Jobs changed how we walk down the street.
As geeky and granular as all these seems so far, stop and think for a second. How many times in your lifetime will you encounter one mind that delivers so much creative thought in so short a time span? And what inspiration will take from it? And if you take from it, what will you actually do with it once you have it?
Dave Ramsey is financial guru/author/radio host that’s quite conservative, socio-politically. So socio-politically, I disagree with most of what he says but he’s the only money guru that drives the point home that “All debt is bad and is to be avoided at all costs.” That worldview has saved me in more ways than I can count because I choose to filter out Ramsey’s political statements and pull the parts that help me the best.
The good parts of Steve Jobs’ legacy are plentiful and can be easily picked out…oh, so very easily. And those that do so, those that realize that thinking outside of the box sparks revolution, those that see how simplifying the difficult makes life better, they will be the next leaders. They will create the next life-changing company. They will be the catalyst for the next Arab Spring. They will be the next ones that are extraordinary.
Those that focus on the negative aspects of his life, his lack of philanthropy, his need to control everything, his past estrangement with his daughter, will never take inspiration from the positive and are destined for life in the middle. Not a life on the sidelines but one in the middle. A life that will invoke for the greater good at best, but never create for it. They will never realize their full potential.
Don’t you dare shed a tear for Steve Jobs. He left this mortal coil knowing that in parallel, he created and inspired a generation to do better. The night he died, I saw a Facebook post saying that Jobs and DaVinci are probably up in heaven inventing some fascinating things. Thanks to Steve, that level of inventiveness already exists on Earth.
So the next time I’m walking to my morning commute bus, cueing up Stereolab on my iPhone while reviewing emails and world events as I unknowingly step in dogsh*t, I’ll know that Steve changed how I walk down the street, and I’ll know how much happier I am because of it.
RIP Steve Jobs.