I was sitting on a delayed plane, waiting for them to close the doors, when one of my new friends I was flying with exclaimed “Steve Jobs is dead!” We all looked at each in shock. The door closed, the plane took off and I was left with a feeling of disbelief throughout the flight. When we landed, I checked into Twitter and my stream was filled with tributes to Job and the loss that we collectively felt. From people tweeting from their iPhone to people who grew up using Macintosh computers, Steve Job’s passing seemed to have moved us all.
This is a food blog, I know that, and I apologize for those who checked in today hoping to see whatever ridiculous thing I baked and usually post about. I had another post ready for today, but the death of Steve Jobs affected me more than I thought it would and so I write this post, with the knowledge that is has nothing to do with food, but in the hopes to explain how much his loss means to me. Better writers will and probably already have written their thoughts on the passing of a genius (a word I loathe to use, as it tends to be badgered about so much it’s lost it’s meaning, but in this case it feels accurate). But the fact that Jobs is no longer with us means the technological world we now live in, feels a little less shiny, a slight bit colder and a tinge more grey.
I use Apple products every day of my life. As a graphic designer by trade, I was indoctrinated in the world of Apple since my college days many many years ago. But my love affair with Apple started back in grade school, when my parents brought home an Apple II+ circa 1982. The predecessor to the ubiquitous Apple IIe that was in every school in the mid-80’s, I not only learned BASIC, and LOGO on it, but designed banners with Print Shop, played games like Castle Wolfenstein and Lode Runner and wrote papers with WordPerfect to be output on our dot matrix printer. We thought we were cutting edge, the first family to own a personal computer in our neighborhood, and the future had arrived in a little box with open and closed apple keys (I still miss those keys).
Nowadays, Apple products are everywhere, and I can’t really imagine my world without them. I’m typing my blog posts on an Apple keyboard, surf the web with my MacBook Pro, process my photos on my calibrated Apple monitor and constantly tweeting from my iPhone. Even if you don’t own a single Apple product, the influence that Jobs had on modern technology is undeniable. I look at awe at my friend’s 18 month old baby, who plays with their iPad. She can barely speak simple sentences but she knows how to swipe and turn on, find the app, and play. The fact that she will never know a life without touchscreen technology baffles and astounds me. Steven Jobs is responsible for that.
Lest you think that I idolized Steve Jobs, I will come right out and say that I like Apple products but they are not without their faults. I flirted with PCs & Windows back in the 90s and though it didn’t stick, I always tell people that computers are computers. They freeze, they crash, they become outdated practically the minute you purchase them, no matter what you are using. In truth, there is no right or wrong platform to be on (though mac-heads will argue constantly about how Windows kernel, the fundamental core of the operating system, is inherently flawed, I don’t speak enough geek talk to know what the heck they are talking about). There is only what you are comfortable with and what you are not comfortable with.
But there in lies the genius of Jobs. He understood that fundamentally people wanted to use something they are comfortable with. From the graphical interface of the early Apple computers to bubbly late 90s iMacs to the click wheel design of the iPod to simplicity of the iPad, Jobs understood that people don’t want a million options to choose from. They want a few really good curated ones. Some companies still don’t get that. Some companies never will.
Steve Jobs has been called our generation’s Thomas Edison. He’s been compared to Alexander Bell, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and Leonard daVinci. But, like all those other geniuses he was compared to, Jobs was a unique individual, driven to create something new. Much has been quoted already from his commencement speech at Stanford six years. In the speech he talks about how death is life’s greatest invention. “It clears out the old and makes way for the new. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. They know already what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Jobs had the courage to follow his own words and because of that, he leaves a legacy behind that will resonate for future generations. He will be missed.