About an hour ago, as of this writing, Apple posted this simple statement on their website:
Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.
And with that, the era of iJobs officially ended, six weeks after the man (The Man) stepped down as CEO for reasons we all hoped would be just another bump in his journey down the road of life. A detour. Not an exit. Sadly, it was not to be.
I never met Steve Jobs. I am, like most of you, simply a user of the technologies he spearheaded, dreamed up, or green-lit. But for someone who is neither a friend, employer, saint, or government bureaucrat, the man has had an amazing impact on my day-to-day life.
My first computer was, wait for it, not an Apple. It was Texas Instruments TI-99/4A that my parents got on sale at Kmart. It was good for learning BASIC and playing Hunt the Wampus. Beyond that, not much. Eventually, an Apple IIGS made its way into the household, along with Activision's Music Studio 2.0—with which I wrote my first song. And, of course, Paintworks Plus, with which I doodled random things in color to print out on the ImageWriter II and all its 4-color ribbon, 9-pin dot matrix glory.
After a sojourn into the ill-fated world of Amiga during high school and college, I turned full time to Apple products. I had, for reasons that remain mysterious, chosen to enter the ad industry as a copywriter. Having started the desktop publishing revolution with the original Macintosh, Apple had a stranglehold on the ad industry that remains to this day, even in agencies that work for PC-centric clients. And, of course, the fact that Apple has produced some truly classic advertising through the years is just one more bit of influence in my life.
Fast-forward just over fifteen years to the present. Sure, I've got an iPhone in my pocket, and I'm writing this column on a MacBook Pro. But, more important than the Apple hardware I own is what I've been able to do with it. I literally live an iLife. Memories in iPhoto. Time compressed via Final Cut Pro. Instant access to almost anything via iOS. Sure, other companies provide similar products that do similar things. But only Apple, under the direction of Steve Jobs, made it work so well, so elegantly, and so easily that, as the cliché goes, even my mom could do it.
Yes, I can imagine a world in which Steve Jobs and Apple never existed. And it's not filled with Android phones and Galaxy tablets. Because if there had been no Steve and no Apple, who would have goaded all the other tech companies into at least attempting to innovate, let alone incorporating design as a feature and not an afterthought? Fortunately, we don't have to answer that.
Unfortunately, we'll never know what Steve Jobs's next "one more thing" would have been.
Goodbye, sir. And thank you.
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