Steve Jobs, visionary, has died of cancer. He was 56.
Stephen Green has a great short post that enumerates the absolutely remarkable impact this one man had on communications, technology, entertainment, the music industry, and, of course, personal computing. An excerpt:
Even most successful entrepreneurs do not change an entire industry. But that’s exactly what Steve Jobs did to personal computing — three times.
In the meantime, Jobs also:
• Created the first “event” Super Bowl ad
• Reinvented the cell phone
• Revitalized and reinvented movie animation with Pixar
• Brought low the old, thieving record labels
• Started from scratch the largest music retailer
• Changed the way people buy, keep, travel with, and listen to music
• Created a physical retailing empire with greater profits-per-square-foot than Tiffany’s
• Apple is currently making people (and the competition) rethink the laptop computer with its diskless MacBook Air
You may or may not be an “Apple person,” but the way you work, play and compute have all been deeply effected by the man in the black, mock-neck sweater.
I don’t recall where I saw it, but I read one person’s assessment that perhaps Jobs’ greatest contribution across the board was to insist that eminent functionality and usability be wedded to a user interface that was aesthetically pleasing. Beauty was of the utmost importance to Jobs. A personal computer (or a music player, or a smartphone, or a tablet computer) is not just a tool, it is a part of the person’s life, and thus it must contribute to the person’s overall well being rather than detract.
Thus while in grade school where we did simple educational games on Commodore 64 machines, and then again in high school where we used Windows 3.1, I vastly preferred using the Macintosh II and then LC II (this one had a color monitor… wow!) we had at home. I have owned nothing but Macs ever since.
And per Green’s post, note how the industry has followed every time.
Steve Jobs leaves behind a remarkable legacy of what one man can do if he gets up every day and resolves to do what he loves.
In 2005 he delivered the commencement address at Stanford University, which I highly recommend. He relates “three stories from [his] life.”
It’s not too long, only 15 minutes, but it contains some great nuggets about hope, trust, and boldly following that which strikes you as good and true and beautiful.
Why do I bring this up at CatholicVote.org? Because the impact of Steve Jobs upon humanity has been profound and, I believe, for the better. He took computing—something happening independent of him—and made it accessible, a pleasing experience, more human. He brought his considerable gifts, among them a keen eye on what is beautiful and a devotion to sharing that beauty within technology, and absolutely insisted that beauty be included in everything his companies did. Even down to the packaging that an iPhone or iPod or MacBook Pro is in when it reaches your hands: the adventure of opening the package and seeing your new device for the first time.
Some may cynically call it mere marketing. Sure, it is, but it was a gamble because it did make his products more expensive. But people like me value the elegance and simplicity. We value the confidence that the company who made our machine has also had a hand in the software that runs on it, that everything syncs naturally and without hitch, that the latest technology will be presented in a package that does not offend the eyes at the end of a long day, and so much more about the Apple experience.
And all that came about because of the singular vision and absolute devotion to detail of Steve Jobs.
I don’t know much about his personal life, I know he was married and I believe he was Buddhist, but I can’t shake the thought that he had accessed at least a portion of that deep core of himself that we all have, written on our hearts, where we find the one, good, true, beautiful, and he realized that he couldn’t not share what he found.
And we’ve all benefited from it. Even if you’re not an “Apple person.”
Steve Jobs, R.I.P. Through the mysterious mercy of God, I pray you see Him face to face.
(P.S., Jobs was adopted mere months after birth—he was one of those featured in CV’s “Imagine 2″ video—by a second set of adoptive parents after the couple who had been arranged ahead of time rejected him. They wanted a girl.)