The interwebs will be bubbling with homages and eulogies for the late Apple frontman Steve Jobs today, most written by people will a lot more passion and insight about the man than I possess, so I won’t go on about it here. However, you can’t lose someone who has had this big of an impact on the world in general without saying something.
The terms “visionary”, “creative genius”, “ahead-of-his-time” and “innovator” will be heard and read much in the coming days when describing Jobs. It would be difficult to name someone who has influenced the path of technology and the way in which millions of people spend their working and leisure time more than Jobs has. Virtually nothing any of us do with respect to computers, mobile phones, listening to music and, increasingly, watching movies and TV was not directly influenced by Jobs. I remember sitting in a computer science class in high school in 1982 writing a simple program on an Apple II computer, one of only a couple our school had, and thinking how amazing this was… right out of “Star Trek”.
Actually I was probably really thinking about getting that assignment done as fast as possible so I could get back to playing Castle Wolfenstein, but….
I also remember in 1986 when the small art college I was studying at got a Macintosh computer. It was in a tiny room at the top of the school (which was an old mansion on Summit Ave. in St. Paul) and students would just wander in there and mess around on “Macpaint”. It was a novelty then, and there were no classes or curriculum built around it. Had future-me appeared and told 1986 me that in only 25 years I would have a device in my pocket about 10,000 times more powerful that that computer, capable of video communicating anyone in the world, watching movies and TV shows on, holding about 6,000 songs, and any of hundreds of thousands of “apps’ that allowed me to do almost anything I could imagine from counting my daily calories to organizing my life to writing a book to playing games, I might have thought I was crazy. Nevermind the Mac, iPod or iPad… telling 1986 me about those might have blown my mind.
Steve Jobs didn’t invent all that stuff or write any of those programs, but his was the idea machine that drove their invention. It’s no exaggeration to say that he was the Ben Franklin. Thomas Edison or Wright Brother of our times. It is fitting that most of the people writing those tributes to him today will be doing it on a computer that he either directly shaped the making of (a Mac) , or greatly influenced the evolution of (Windows).
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