By now, you’ve read about Steve Jobs and his resignation as CEO of Apple. If not: Daring Fireball: http://daringfireball.net/2011/08/resigned
and Mike Lee: http://mur.mu.rs/?p=332
I can’t add much to the excellent analysis except to relate my own Steve Jobs story.
I first met Steve in 1979 when the Apple II Plus was released. I had the opportunity to use a personal computer for the first time and found myself learning a lot about computing, quickly. Steve told me that the personal computer was a blank slate, and that the only limit to what I could make it do was my own imagination. I knew then what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
I met him again shortly after the introduction of the Macintosh. As I sat using a Macintosh for the first time, he told me that his vision was for computers to be usable by anyone, without having to know what was going on inside the box. He also said that computers could be designed elegantly and that they could be molded to fit humans’ limitations, and not the other way around.
He spoke to me again when he released the NeXT cube, and showed me what it was possible to do when you took all the lessons that you had learned, both good and bad, and started over with a clean slate.
My next few brief meetings with Steve were after the introductions of the Wallstreet PowerBook, the first iMac and the original iPod. At each meeting he stressed the importance of good design, ease of use and aesthetic appeal. With each meeting, my understanding of each of those things grew.
The most recent meeting was at the release of the iPhone. At the time of its release, I had been working and playing with computing hardware in various forms for over 25 years. I picked up the iPhone, turned it on and started playing with it. I had seen the demo that Steve had given in January (2007), but there’s nothing like picking the device up and playing with it yourself. After a minute of playing around with the phone, Steve leaned over and whispered in my ear, “This will change everything.” All I could do is quietly nod my head, because I was struck dumb. This simple device, more than just about anything else in the last 20 years, had changed everything about what I thought was possible in the field of computers.
By now, you’ve either caught on to my ruse, or are wondering how the hell I’ve been able to get so much one-on-one time with Steve.
The truth is, the closest I’ve gotten to Steve Jobs, the man, is at WWDC 2011, when I got up very early, waited in line for the keynote, and sat about 30 or so rows back from the front. *
So, why would I say that I’ve met Steve Jobs, and that he spoke to me?
Because I believe that a person speaks the loudest through creating something that they are passionate about.
Because I believed I learned more about what was important to Steve Jobs in 10 minutes of using the iPhone, than I would have if I had an entire week with him at my disposal.
I also believe that although he won’t be CEO when the next round of Apple products are released, his voice will be heard just as loudly as before.
My guess is that the same attention to detail, good taste and thinking further ahead was also applied to Apple itself. I believe that not only did he tell the people working there what they should be working on, but taught them how to determine what they should be working on next
All we can do is watch and see, but I know where I’m placing my bets.
Steve, I’ve never met you, and I hope that I do someday, but most of all, I hope your influence is felt in this industry and beyond for decades to come. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many people.
-Rob* My experience with the Apple II was at a friend’s house when I was very young, and again later on in the classroom. With the Macintosh, it was at a computer store on Ventura Blvd. when I was still in school and again in college. I was lucky enough to work with Macs in college (CSUN), during my internship (Rocketdyne) and got my own used IIci later on. My college was one of the first to get an entire lab of NeXT computers, and I felt privileged to be able to use one, since The Cube was definitely far beyond my budget as a college student. I bought a Wallstreet, an original iMac and several iPods when they were released. I hadn’t planned on buying an iPhone, but found my credit card in my hand about 10 minutes after first playing with one at the Apple Store. Sure, I’ve used plenty of other computers along the way, a TRS-80 (which my parents bought me), a Commodore 64, an Amiga, and too many PCs to count, but there was always a Mac on my desk somewhere, and I’m positive there will be for many years to come.