Wednesday, October 5, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

                                        --Hamlet, Act I Scene II

An artist, innovator and entrepreneur, Steve Jobs will go down as one of the great icons of the 20th century.  Starting Apple Computer in his parents' garage, Jobs took his vision and used it to create technological poetry--and in doing so, he changed the world.

Oozing with charisma and charm, the ex-hippie Jobs was more a poet-turned-businessman than engineer.  With his characteristic perfectionism and incessant drive, he demanded the most of his employees--and of himself.  He would stop at nothing to create the most beautiful, simplest to use, and most gorgeous products.  "We don't make junk", Jobs would frequently say.  

It wasn't about the money.  Even after Apple made him a multimillionaire, he was known to wear simple clothing, including his characteristic blue jeans and black shirt.  His home had minimal furniture and was sparsely decorated.  For Steve, it was more about implementing his vision of beauty, design and functionality than it was about impressing anyone.

When asked about the secret to success, Jobs said that it takes two things.  First, you have to have a passion for what you are doing.  If you do not, then you will give up.  You have to be willing to do something well beyond where others would have given up because it is too difficult.  For this reason, you won't succeed outside your area of passion.  Second, you need to surround yourself with the best talent.  You can't do everything yourself, so you need to have others help you. 

 Jobs followed this formula to success more than once.  After starting Apple, he was later fired by the company that he built.  At the age of 30, he was out.  But he wasn't down.  Jobs went on to start a computer company called NeXT.  Then he bought a little unknown company called Pixar.  The two companies struggled and faced bankruptcy.  Yet Steve held on, and through his vision, Pixar would go on to tremendous success with the movie Toy Story.  Innovating once again. Jobs found himself a billionaire after Pixar was the driving success behind computer generated graphics.  The operating system on the NeXT computer would later be the foundation for the operating systems used on the Macs.  Jobs returned to Apple in the 90's and rescued it from oblivion.  In 2001, the introduction of the ipod and later in 2007, the introduction of the iphone helped Apple become one of the most successful companies in America.  All of this was because of Steve.

He was the business genius and the artist.  Steve Wozniak was the engineering genius.  And together, they were like the McCartney and Lennon song writing machine that forever changed the landscape of music.

I don't own a Mac.  I don't own an ipad.  But I do have an ipod.  And I use a computer with a graphical user interface.  I use a computer with a mouse.  And I have a computer in my home.  If it weren't for Steve Jobs, I would be typing in command line codes on my computer using the keyboard only.  Steve Jobs made the personal computer accessible.  He brought the music industry into the digital age with itunes.  As there was rampant pirating of music before this, he may well have saved the music industry itself.

He had his detractors.  Some say he was impatient, hyper-demanding and a micromanager.  Whatever he was, with all his faults and eccentricities, he was a man of passion.  And that passion has forever changed the world.  He may have only lived 56 years, but he certainly made the most of it.  We have all lost a little something today, October 5, 2011--the day Steve Jobs died.  

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