Steve Jobs passed away today at the age of 56 (Updated)
by Bill Fox, MacsOnly.com October 5, 2011 [Updated 5p and 7p PDT 10/5; 10/9 w/images]
Just moments ago (4:45p PDT) I received news that Steve Jobs passed away today. This is sad news indeed.
Apple posted an announcement and an email address to share thoughts and condolences. Apple's Board issued a statement posted here. Steve's family released a statement as well.
As with many of you, I lost another hero of mine today. I knew the end was near when Steve Jobs stepped down from being the CEO of Apple in August and turned the reins over to Tim Cook. However, I felt that the end would not be anywhere as near as it actually turn out to be.
Most comments about Steve Jobs will likely focus on his genius for innovation. I use a different word--transformation. Steve Jobs was transformational.
Steve Jobs, along with his teenage buddy Steve Wozniak, invented personal computing. Like all successes, there are many claims to paternity, but Steve Jobs' marketing genius took the Steves' invention and turned it into a huge global phenomenon in the succession of Apple II's. Curiously, they formed Apple Computer on April 1st in 1976 and sold their first Apple I computer for $666.66. Apple called it igniting the personal computer revolution.
Apple's success transformed the world of computing as IBM, the computing mainframe king, had to jump into personal computing with Microsoft's operating system called MSDOS. Other computer makers followed IBM and the transformation was complete. Steve Jobs' vision of virtually every student, indeed virtually everyone, being able to engage in using a computer to improve their daily life was further realized. But Steve Jobs was not done.
After a visit to Xerox's PARC, Steve Jobs launched the concept of a graphical user interface (GUI) and mouse pointer as broad commercial products in the Lisa and Macintosh (1984!) computers for "the rest of us." But when Microsoft copied the concept in it's Windows operating system, transformation number two was realized. Personal computing was much easier than using a keyboard and command line interface, thus bringing personal computing to the masses. But Steve Jobs was still not done.
Following the success of the Mac, Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple by Apple's Board at the behest of CEO John Sculley, formerly of Pepsi, and the dark ages at Apple set in.
Meanwhile, Steve Jobs was engaged in building new companies, NeXT and Pixar. While NeXT itself was not a success, it developed an operating system based on Unix that ultimately set the stage for Steve Jobs' return to Apple. On the other hand, Pixar was transformational in another industry, one created largely by Walt Disney called movie animation and also helped set the stage for another transformation in personal computing.
Sculley was followed at Apple as CEO by two engineers. The second of them was Gil Amelio. While generally not widely appreciated for his efforts, Amelio had some brilliant successes that rescued Apple twice along the way. First, Amelio obtained some critical financing and thus kept Apple from disappearing into oblivion and second, he brought Steve Jobs back to Apple along with his NeXT operating system that would morph into Mac OS X.
Back at Apple after taking over from Amelio, Steve Jobs supported design openly and strongly. Beginning with the iMac and, along with attention to graphics, he engaged in his third transformation. This design aura of Apple's products is what I termed "elegant simplicity" long ago on the pages of MacsOnly.com. Some simply say "cool," a term from my distant childhood that has been revived today and surprisingly meaning the same thing as back then. This was, in my view, Steve Jobs' final transformation of the computing industry. Following the design concept of elegant simplicity introduced with the iMac in hardware and in Mac OS X and ultimately IOS in software and carried through with the MacBooks, iPod, iPhone and iPad created Apple's booming financial success of today even against a severely declining global economy.
Sure, all successful people have their enablers and Steve Jobs had his, from Steve Wozniak all the way to Jonathan Ives. But Steve Jobs was the maestro, he had the genius to bring it all together into products that people really like to use to transform not only personal computing but movie animation. And best of all, he had a measurably positive effect on the many peoples of the earth, a huge effect in my view. There is nothing that can beat that.
Rest in peace, my hero.
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Copyright © 1995-2011 by Bill Fox
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