Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

Steve Jobs is gone.

I never met Mr. Jobs. Although I worked for Apple (and its spin-off, Taligent) for over ten years, I was there during John Sculley's reign and later, Gil Amelio's. Jobs hired Sculley away from Pepsi after taking him for a walk in the Stanford hills, and asking him a now-legendary question: "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?"

But it was always Steve Jobs who changed the world. Like many others, I learned of his death today using a device that would not have existed without him. A few months back I went on a road trip with one of my sons, to visit and tour my alma mater UCLA. I took my iPhone, and on that three-day trip it served as a map, a navigator, a traffic reporter, the yellow pages, a restaurant critic, a tour guide, an email client, an encyclopedia, a newspaper, a camera, a publisher, a UCLA course catalog... oh yeah, and a phone. There would be smart phones today without Steve Jobs, but there wouldn't be iPhones: the one that all the others are trying to imitate and improve upon.

I've been an Apple fan since about 1986: my first computer was a Mac Plus, at the enthusiastic recommendation of a friend. I have not been without a Mac computer since then: 25 years now. I should own one of those T-shirts that say "I was an Apple fan when Apple was doomed." (I don't, only because I don't wear T-shirts: they don't have a pocket for my glasses.) Followers of this blog know that I have been selling Solitaire Till Dawn for Macintosh computers for over 20 of those years. The smooth Mac interface with its marvelous attention to detail was the inspiration for the attention to detail I've tried to put into Solitaire Till Dawn, and the continuing popularity of the Mac (even through the darker years) kept it selling, and helped my family get along with only one parent working, freeing Helen to stay home and raise the kids.

One of the downsides to aging, I've found, is the number of times I find myself mourning somebody I never met, somebody who made the world a better place. I remember hearing of the deaths of Louis Armstrong, Walt Kelly, Jim Henson, Isaac Asimov, and many other great creators; and now, Steve Jobs.

Thank you, Steve. I wish you could have stayed longer.