I first found out the news about Steve Jobs passing when I awoke my iPad at around 8pm on Wednesday. I had heard the tell-tale sound of a push notification earlier during dinner, but as the screen lit up, there it was. The message from the CNN app that Steve Jobs, the greatest technology innovator of our times, was no longer with us.
My first instinct was to dial into social networks like Twitter to take in the reaction from friends, online acquaintances and business associates. Streams of condolences, many from people that would not be able to name the CEO of Apple 10 years ago, let alone mourn his death, flooded the internet. All from computers and devices that would be vastly different if not for Steve Jobs. Heck, would a platform like Twitter even exist? Who knows…
My journey with Apple started over 10 years ago, fresh out of art school my obsession was with music and sound, using technology as a medium and art form onto itself. Years before I had resisted even using a computer to make music, but that changed and I was primed for my first job at a shop that specialized in digital recording sales, mainly on the Mac platform. I went in as a PC guy, having used Macs only briefly in college, but within a few months I was hooked on Macs. Not long after bringing my first Powerbook G4 home (still works today) my wife was hooked as well and bought her own – and she was more heavily entrenched in the Windows world than I was.
It was then that the transition from OS9 to OS X was taking place, Steve was dragging long time users kicking and screaming into a new paradigm of user interaction. It wasn’t a painless process but in the end we have a new way of working, on a sexy new OS that was attracting more and more new users. (It was also at this time that our shop’s favourite audio sequencing software – Logic, by Emagic of Germany – was bought by Apple and brought into the fold of creative software along with Final Cut Pro.)
Along came the iPod and iTunes store, and with that those outside of the Mac universe began to understand what Apple was, not just a computer manufacturer, but a digital technology trend-setter. Breaking more frontiers in the latter half of the decade, with the iPhone and iPad, solidified Apple’s place as a mechanism of brilliant innovation.
All this in the years after Steve returned to Apple to save the company from an ultimate demise in the mid-90s. The unprecedented explosion of the Apple name since then, however, could not have happened without the original spark – the birth of the Mac, and the introduction of the personal computing experience as we know it. That spark lit a wildfire not only from Apple but from competitors as well who saw a good idea and ran with it.
Without that spark, the computer you use at work would not exist in it’s current form, the OS would be vastly different, and I wouldn’t be hearing random “bleep-bleeps” from various iOS devices around the office as they’re sent meeting requests. These devices keep us all in touch, power our creativity, and optimize our work. The device you’re reading this on right now would not be nearly as user-friendly if not for Steve.
My career path has taken me to a position at Softchoice where I’m helping our field sales sell Apple into the IT environments across North America. Macs are no longer relegated to the marketing department, and iPads are taking the enterprise by storm. Even at a company where the original focus was on software licensing and our biggest strengths in the past decade have been in Microsoft licensing, Softchoice recognizes the monumental impact that Apple has had on the business world; that impact is growing and will continue to grow. I have the fortunate position of selling the coolest technology in the world at the coolest company in the world. As I type this, there’s a classic Mac+ someone set up at our front entrance where employees can type in their condolences and thanks to Steve.
There’s been lots of speculation of what Steve Job’s death will ultimately mean for Apple as a company. I for one am very confident that Apple will continue on the path of remarkable innovation, with Tim Cook and future CEOs at the helm. Unlike the previous absence of Steve and subsequent decline of the Apple name, the talent at the top has been groomed for years on the Jobs’ philosophy of how to create a new and profound user experience. The stage has been set with the legacy of OSX, the brilliant simplicity of iOS, design that strives for perfection, and new technologies and platforms that we’ve only just begun to grasp, like iCloud.
Steve’s vision brought us the future, the wheels are in motion – his inspiration will continue to drive the success of Apple, and empower all those who touch the technology that exists because of him.
Thank you for everything, Steve.