Goodbye, Mr. Jobs

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.

Comments closed
    • xiaomim
    • 8 years ago
    • kizzmequik_74
    • 8 years ago

    Dammit. I successfully held back tears for over 20 hours after learning of Steve Jobs’ death, but I finally broke down while reading the morning paper over breakfast today. There are very few people in this world whose death can send grown men sobbing into their morning coffee, and Jobs was one of them. He really did change the world, and the future is definitely less ‘magical’ with his passing.

    Also, pancreatic cancer: you suck.

      • Coulda
      • 8 years ago

      You gotta be kidding me. Really? Did you know him personally? You’re just depressed. Take some Prozac or something. Enough with adoration. He was not mother Teresa. He was successful CEO, but also a flawed man. From what I’ve seen/read about how he treated other people, I didn’t hear many good things…

    • cynan
    • 8 years ago

    Nice sentiment. Mr. Jobs really did contribute a disproportionately large amount to how our society interacts with and conceptualizes computers and computer-based technology.

    If there is one way that his untimely passing will most greatly affect the masses, it is the loss of a visionary with a proven track record seated at the head of an influential tech company to keep the entire market on its toes, both in creativity, and more importantly, in execution of a polished product. To this end, I agree that, as technology fans, we owe Mr. Jobs quite a debt.

    On the other hand, I think it is quite a presumption to alledge that we would not have Android phone equivalents or tablets without Steve. They probably wouldn’t be identical to what we have, given Apple’s influence, but analogous devices would almost certainly be around to fill the various niches…

    It reminds me of the anechdote of Steve Jobs about how he was reported to have said that if he had never dropped in on a certain calligraphy class in college, computers would not have had true-type fonts or some such… A large presumption.

    You know what they say: Necessity is the mother of invention. Without Steve and Apple, sure some things may have taken longer and may not have been executed as well, but had they not been arround to meet market demands, it’s almost a certainty that one or more other entities would have stepped up to fill the gap.

    In some ways Steve may have been too good at his job. The current climate where any gadget with a fruit logo is a coveted symbol of status is probably one of the side-effects of perhaps being a little too successful too quickly. Where once technology was all but status-agnostic, now the type of media player or computer you have can actually impact the value of someone as a human being. And we largely have Apple to thank for this phenomenon.

    But if it happened with clothes, watches and then automobiles, then why not every other branded commodity?

    In my opinion, the human race will be better off staving off this inevitability as long as we possibly can: The less needless animosity, envy and contempt bred into society, surely the better we’ll be for it?

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t look at jobs as an innovator in the sense that he changed business but rather raised the bar for products. Apples product standards (well maybe not their batteries…) changed what we came to expect in mobile hardware. Laptops, MP3, MP4, and phones are all changed forever by the “Industrial design” of his products. While his software vision is disputable his impact on hardware design and implementation is peerless. While some would argue Gates might have held back industry growth and innovation I don’t think (despite their horrendous patent practices) it could be argued that apple and jobs did anything other than promote and innovate.

    While I might not have been a jobs fan at all, and I wasn’t! I’m sad to see him go. Nerds everywhere have lost an pivotal figure who no matter how much you loved him, propelled tech to new heights. Transformed gadgets into functional products and single handedly shaped an industry and market…

    🙁 Bye.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]"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."[/quote<] Geez, we know. Apple users love to be marketed(lied) to. Wow, do we EVER know.

      • WaltC
      • 8 years ago

      All too true. However, in their defense, I think that many “Jobsians” don’t realize the extent that the RDF has played in their ideas about Apple products and services and the products and services Apple competes with. Now that Jobs has permanently left the Apple scene, little by little the RDF is going to unravel, erode, and collapse, and lots of people are going to be surprised when Apple turns out to be a lot less “crazy” and a lot less “different” and a lot less “insanely great” than they had believed. When they finally see that the differences at Apple are almost exclusively cosmetic and that deep down Apple is like most other tech companies, the imaginary “magic” bubble is going to burst for a sizable number of people. It was Jobs who singlehandedly maintained the Apple “suspension of disbelief” for so long, in my opinion.

      Only Steve Jobs could pull off the RDF, and he was an unrivaled master at projecting it. Jobs had the uncanny ability to first convince himself that round holes were square, black was white, and up was down, and as a result he then was able to convince a good many other people, too. Jobs had total confidence in his ability to sell an idea regardless of how distorted or simply incorrect it might be (not to say that he never had good ideas, he had a few of those as well…;)). In fact, I often thought that Jobs delighted secretly in seeing how many people he could sway even when he was advancing patently ridiculous propositions (the Cube is just one of many examples–a penchant for one-button mice, the list is very long.) And inside Apple, things held together on the strength of Jobs’ unwavering conviction that whatever direction he would choose would be the right one for Apple. There is simply no one inside Apple who can come close to Jobs’ ability to persuade, to convince, and to sell Apple to the masses. Jobs is irreplaceable. From beginning to end, Apple is his baby, and nobody else’s.

      However, the RDF is something that most people have no inclination to create or to evangelize. It’s not something that comes easily even to most people inside Apple, I’ll wager. They had to live and breathe the RDF on a daily basis, but I’ll also wager that not a one of them could project it, or believe it themselves, like Steve Jobs.

      Some people believe that smartphones have changed the world. I don’t believe that–but I do believe that the Internet has changed the world, no question about that. Internet network aware cell phones, like NetFlix and similar other services, are simply an offshoot of the Internet and were always inevitable. Jobs also had an uncanny ability to see what was coming and what was viable within the scope of existing technology, and because of that he is rightfully called a visionary of the highest caliber, and I will certainly give him that…;) But to me Jobs will always remain unique as the founder and enabler of the Reality Distortion Field (the RDF, and if I was Apple I would try and trademark that phrase, no doubt about it!) I was always immune–but there were times when I wished, however fleetingly, that I wasn’t…;)

      RIP, Steve. You brought something unique to the technology business. I don’t know that anyone else will ever be able to wield it like you did, but it surely was enjoyable to watch you do it!…;)

    • tanker27
    • 8 years ago

    +1 from me Jason, Couldn’t have said it any better.

    • oldDummy
    • 8 years ago

    Well said.

    The passing of a giant.

    Apple wont be able to bring him back again;

    dead company walking.

      • sjl
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]dead company walking.[/quote<] Perhaps. Perhaps not. Last time, Steve was ousted by the board of directors; he was replaced by somebody who had no idea what Apple was about, and it almost destroyed the company. This time, he's been replaced by somebody who was groomed to take his place. Tim Cook was put into the CEO position temporarily in 2004, and was promoted to COO in 2007 - it's not like he's come from nowhere, and it's certainly not like he reached that position without Jobs' blessing. He won't fill Steve's shoes completely, of course - I don't think anybody at Apple could - but I do think he's smart enough to know it, and to pass on those duties he can't fulfil himself to those who can. I think that - for a while, at least - Apple will keep going as it has been going. It will be interesting to see where they go, now that Jobs is gone, but I don't see them dying - not in the way that they damn near did back in '97.

        • oldDummy
        • 8 years ago

        Don’t think he can impose his will on the company like Jobs did.

        I wish apple well but would not buy their stock.

          • kamikaziechameleon
          • 8 years ago

          apple will be fine for atleast 5 years but I question its ability to innovate in the distant future.

          • Coulda
          • 8 years ago

          Agree. Apple products were expression of Steve Jobs ego.

      • WhatMeWorry
      • 8 years ago

      Apple can coast for decades. Kinda like Microsoft is doing currently. The playing out of iPad and iCloud will keep them busy for a long time. Heck, even the Mac is experiencing better growth than Wintel.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      Apple is too big and has too much momentum behind them.

      They will be fine.

      The only way they will belly up if they make a constant stream of blunders. (very unlikely)

        • cynan
        • 8 years ago

        Lol. You mean unless they become a Microsoft (or an HP of late)?. Unlike Microsoft, Apple doesn’t have the buffer of being only a software company. While designing both the hardware and software (OS) can conceivably result in a more polished user experience, it does not offer the protection if one of these branches of products fails.

        Imagine if Microsoft made all PCs… Almost nobody would have bought a non-Apple computer for most of 2008-2009 due to the incredibly bad rap Vista received.

        But yeah, it’s a huge stretch to see Apple not continuing to do very well for the forseeable future.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]dead company walking.[/quote<] Very doubtful. This is an entirely different situation then when Steve was ousted in the 80's. Apple was still a relatively young company and Steve was concentrating on getting that company and it's products established. When Steve came back he not only rebooted their product line up but he also surrounded himself with capable successors and formed them into his mold. Just as how Apple didn't die during Steve's previous leaves or resignation, it won't die now either.

    • NeelyCam
    • 8 years ago

    Soo… you haven’t had a non-Apple PC for how many years?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      He posted from his Apple-branded personal computer. Didn’t you read the post? He actually said it.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        You know what I meant… but I’ll edit just for you.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          😉 That’s what I’m here for.

      • Jason_Fox
      • 8 years ago

      I’ve never had an MS-DOS/Windows machine. It’s been Apple/Amiga/Apple since 1988 (I think). That’s why I write The MacHole and not for anything else on this site. 🙂

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        WHAT? 1988?! YOU MISSED ALL THE COMPUTING THAT HAPPENED IN BETWEEN.

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          WHAT, NINE THOUSAND?!

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            Since you’re all about accuracy in language, shouldn’t it be eight thousand?

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            Only accuracy in a language I care about.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            So, inaccurate translations don’t count..?

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Quite impressive. I take it that you haven’t tried Android either..?

    • jabro
    • 8 years ago

    Very well said Jason.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    I think Steve’s death will result in more people endeared to Apple for the legacy he left behind, as long as they keep innovating the way they’ve been doing. I’m no Apple fan but I really hope Apple doesn’t stagnate again the way it did shortly before Steve came back in 1997.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Not necessarily.

      • MaxTheLimit
      • 8 years ago

      Depends on the direction the company takes after his death. You may hear people yearning for the lost ‘jobs era’ of Apple a few years from now.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, compare with MS. If you see what they’re doing with Windows, then you know Steve Jobs was something special.

    • Noigel
    • 8 years ago

    Hear, hear.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 8 years ago

    Great post, thank you.

    • thanatos355
    • 8 years ago

    Well said, Mr Fox, well said indeed.

    • Hance
    • 8 years ago

    Great post Jason.

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