One hundred years from now, people will talk about Steve Jobs the same way we do of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the Wright brothers. Perhaps, as my friend Chris helped pointed out, he was a mix of Edison and John Lennon. Maybe he was a bit like Walt Disney, or Jim Hensen, a man who was personally tied to the brand he created.
Regardless, he was an an inventor, a visionary, a man full of ideas. He was more than just any businessman, CEO to Apple, he personally held patents for many of the technologies used in their products. He was the perfect mix of creative genius and salesman. In the tech world, Steve Jobs was elevated to near deity-like status, but as cancer proved, he was still just a man.
Every CEO of every company on the planet should pay attention to this right now and ask themselves, “why won’t this happen when I die?” (@jayfanelli)
I tried to sit down and put together my thoughts on his passing last night, but couldn’t. I was too overcome with the emotions pouring out from people across the world on Twitter. I shared some of my own but it was interesting to watch the wake for a man happen in real time from people all across the world. People who loved and hated him all had emotions to share.
Even President Obama had something to say:
The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Steve’s wife Laurene, his family, and all those who loved him.
But I’m not sure those outside of the technology community could really feel the impact the way we all did. My wife didn’t understand last night why I was grieving for a man I’d never met, the founder of a company that now rivals ExxonMobil as the world’s largest. Without meeting him, Steve Jobs had a profound impact on my life. I credit him (and Bill Gates) for sparking my interest in technology… for making me what I am today.
The first computer I ever used was an Apple II when I was in kindergarden. Later, I learned how to do amazing things on some of the first Macintosh systems. I used to skip recess to go down to the elementary school library so that I could learn on devices that he helped create. And while my family can attest to later holding Apple and their products in contempt through much of the mid-90s, while pounding the drum of Microsoft, I later came back to the “distortion field” as Steve brought real innovation back to the industry.
The Apple II, the Macintosh, Pixar (who doesn’t love Toy Story), iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes. Disruptions to the status-quo. Disruptions that are all because of the leadership and creative mind of Steve Jobs. I don’t remember much about what computers were like before the Apple II or the Mac, but I know what movies were like before Pixar. I know what buying music was like before iTunes and the iPod. I know what phones were like before the iPhone, and I love my iPad. I wouldn’t want to go back to a world before the things Steve created, existed. Even if you’re a hardened Android fan, you have to remember what smartphones were like before the iPhone and thank Apple and Steve Jobs for setting a new trend. Even if you’re a Microsoft fanatic, you have to thank him for keeping Bill on his toes for all those years, and forcing each other to continue to innovate.
In my article last week, prior to the announcement of the iPhone 4S, I said this:
I still maintain that Steve Jobs will be present at the announcement, even after his recent retirement as Apple CEO. I think he will be there to hand it off to Tim Cook in some way, or perhaps participate in some FaceTime chat to highlight a new iOS 5 feature. At the very least, his presence will be felt.
There was an empty chair, in the front row of the hall, with a cloth wrapped around it marked Reserved. That was no doubt a chair for Steve, one he wouldn’t be in because of what we all now know. I think Apple knew this was coming soon, and probably played the announcement a bit low-key as to not attempt to overshadow what could have probably happened any day. That said, I have no doubt that Steve wanted to see one last keynote, one last product launch, before he passed on. His presence was felt. His presence will continue to be felt with every future Apple product.
At 56, Steve Jobs did more than most people do in 90 years. He was the original Apple genius, a master showman, and the original tech virtuoso. He will be missed.