As I’m sure you’ve heard, Steve Jobs passed away yesterday at the young age of 56. He had struggled with cancer and other health problems for half a decade before he died, so his death was not a surprise, but it was still a major loss for the world. There have been few people as visionary and instrumental in changing the world as was Steve Jobs.
His legacy isn’t just the products created by the companies he leaves behind, which include both Apple and Pixar, but what those companies have done to the world at large. Without Apple, the face of modern computing would be entirely different, Jobs invented the entire idea of a personal computer that was intuitive to use and didn’t require a lot of technical skills to understand. His company brought us personal computing, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, and the iPad — he turned gadgets into something friendly and unintimidating.
I am not an Apple fanboy, I do not rush out and buy every gadget that they release. My primary computer is a Mac, but my tablet runs on Android, as does my phone. But both of those wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Apple constantly pushing the boundaries of what technology should be, what it should do, and how it should be a part of our lives.
Steve Jobs himself was an inspiration to many. He was an adopted child of a working class family who dropped out of college because it was too expensive. Then, after the success of Apple he was summarily fired from the company in the mid 80s and went on to work in other successful companies, like Pixar, before being invited back to Apple. His story was about overcoming odds again and again, and remaining true to his vision while doing so. If anyone had the entrepreneurial spirit, it was Steve Jobs, and if you have a business or want to start one some day, I can think of no better inspiration or reminder that anything is possible.
He gave a much quoted address to Stanford University soon after his diagnosis and said, ”Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Thank you, Steve Jobs, you have made the world a better place.