As a few of you following the news have no doubt heard, Apple CEO and co-founder, and all around technological Renaissance man Steve Jobs died last night following a prolonged bout with cancer. Though I am not an Apple fanboy, and am the proud user and owner of a PC, and Android, and an Amazon Kindle, even I will admit that Steve Jobs was a brilliant innovator and pusher for technological advancement, and for that alone he has my respect. I feel as if the best way I can pay my respects tot he dear departed is a look back at his life, and a look forward to his legacy and impact on the world.
If his early life is any indication, he should be held up as the very picture of the American Dream. Put up for adoption by his biological parents, he was eventually adopted by the Jobs family of Mountain View, California – the heart of what Jobs and his ilk would later turn into Silicon Valley. Having always had a habit of tinkering with machines and computers, he would later drop out of college to work at various technology companies, until he and friend Steve Wozniak would together found Apple in 1976. He would help guide the company through its early years and important milestone, including the release of the world’s first commercially successful personal computer. Despite this, he would be fired from Apple.
True to form however, he would later call this the best thing to ever happen to him, taking the time to get more in touch with his inner innovator. He would use this time away from Apple to found NeXT, a technology company that pushed for early integration with the Internet, and whose software would eventually form the core of the Apple and iTunes stores, as well as Apple’s MobileMe services. In addition, he took Pixar and from it, created one of the world’s most beloved animation companies, and one that would change the medium of animation from the traditional hand-drawn styles to the now-dominant form of digital form.
However, Steve Jobs finest hour would be his second tenure with Apple, a position from which he would change nearly every aspect of not just the company, but the popular culture as a whole. With the MacBook, he formed a niche for Apple and helped the popularize the laptop. With both iTunes and the iPod, he changed the face of buying music and the means of listening to it. With the iPhone, he sparked the smart phone revolution, and started the decline of the MP3 players that his iPods helped popularize. Now, the iPad is poised to do the same to laptops, with 15 million units sold last year, not counting the many competitors launched since then. All of them put forward bold innovation coupled with bold design, and in the process changed the face of modern technology for the better.
His death marks the passing of one of America’s greatest inventors and innovators, one whose name will surely be included with Edison or Ford by future generations. He was a visionary whose drive, passion and talent changed the world. His genius and talent is in inspiration to all, whose spirit will live on forever not just in Apple or the technology he helped create, but in the millions if people who were inspired by his genius. Even a PC/Android/Kindle user like myself.
Rest in peace Mr. Jobs. You will be missed.