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Steve Jobs: Boomer Icon

Published: 10/5/2012

One year after Steve Jobs's death, his innovations are as important as ever. Originally published October 2011 on Obit-Mag.com.

"You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." - Steve Jobs

After Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple, the company he co-founded in 1976 with Stephen Wozniak in his garage, Jobs bought a small digital animation company from George Lucas, staffed it with some of the most talented programmers and designers he could find and assiduously took to the task of overseeing the production of the digitally animated movie Toy Story. Pixar Studios changed the movie industry, positing an entirely novel method of film animation and narrative possibility. But Pixar, for all its Academy Awards and billions of dollars at the box office, was only a detour in the life and career of Steve Jobs. His death on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, just a day after he would have introduced the newest iPhone 4S to an awaiting world, puts a final point on what might be described as the most creative, odd, innovative and successful Baby Boomer life ever.



In this Jan. 15, 2008, file photo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new MacBook Air after giving the keynote address at the Apple MacWorld Conference in San Francisco. Apple on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 said Jobs has died. He was 56. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

In this Jan. 15, 2008, file photo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new MacBook Air after giving the keynote address at the Apple MacWorld Conference in San Francisco. Apple on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 said Jobs has died. He was 56. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

 

 

Of course, Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 and let loose a torrent of consumer electronic creations that revolutionized personal computing, changed the way people listen to and buy music and set the standard for the smartphone and tablet industry. It was as if he knew what buyers wanted before they did. In his products and company lay a unique coalescence of design ingenuity, simplicity of function and an atavistic understanding of how a product can alter the way people interact with their world. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad, not to mention the 1985 Macintosh, were at once maximal and minimalist.

A successful consumer product might not necessary rank as an achievement, but in Jobs' approach to innovation and business, his stubborness and exactitude lay the other revolution that he spearheaded. He was a 21st century's enlightened technological despot, an uncompromising creator who was motivated as much by the disruptive spirit of 60s counter culture as he was by the magic of techonology. He often said that money didn't matter to him (this as Apple raked in billions) and somehow you believed him. It was creation not accumulation that pushed him.

So much will be written of Jobs' contribution to American business, culture and technology, in these pages and elsewhere. But what might be his most lasting contribution is his clarity of individual vision. He was notorious for never using focus group testing and data when developing his products. It was all within him somehow. His is a loss, especially for a country reeling for homegrown ingenuity, that will be impossible to replace. He was only 56. What else could have been up his sleeve?
 

 

 

 

 

Reactions:

Bill Gates:
The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.

Tim Cook:
Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

Sergey Brin: of Google:
From the earliest days of Google, whenever Larry and I sought inspiration for vision and leadership, we needed to look no farther than Cupertino. Steve, your passion for excellence is felt by anyone who has ever touched an Apple product (including the macbook I am writing this on right now). And I have witnessed it in person the few times we have met.

Barack Obama:
Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.

Ann Wroe of the Economist:
Mr Jobs caught the computing bug while growing up in Silicon Valley. As a teenager in the late 1960s he cold-called his idol, Bill Hewlett, and talked his way into a summer job at Hewlett-Packard. But it was only after dropping out of college, travelling to India, becoming a Buddhist and experimenting with psychedelic drugs that Mr Jobs returned to California to co-found Apple, in his parents’ garage, on April Fools’ Day 1976. “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences,” he once said. “So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions.” Bill Gates, he suggested, would be “a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger”.

Farhad Manjoo at Slate:
I saw the news of Steve Jobs’ death on a device that he invented—the iPhone—and I’m writing on another machine that he willed into being: the graphical interface computer. I happen to be using a PC running Windows, with generic hardware I put together myself; technically, only my keyboard was made by Apple. But none of that matters. Just like the touch-screen smartphone and, now, the tablet computer, the PC that you and I use every day became ubiquitous thanks mainly to this one man. I’ll go further: Whether you’re yearning for a Kindle Fire or a BlackBerry PlayBook, whether you play Angry Birds on an iPod Touch or Google’s Nexus Prime, whether you’re a Mac or a PC, you’ve succumbed to Steve Jobs’ master plan.

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