Farewell Steve Jobs

He grew up just a couple miles from where I did in the Valley of Heart’s Delight, the valley that became Silicon Valley in his youth, and in mine.

He was one of the founders of a company that influenced me greatly.

There was a small Apple II lab at my junior high school, which backed up to Apple’s Mariani Avenue campus, back in 1978.  It had been donated by Apple.

I was 13 at the time.  He was only 23.

Being able to use that lab, loading programs with cassette players, was a seminal experience for me.

I finally wrangled my own Apple II a few years later.  It was the gateway into my future.

But even as I acquired that precious machine, the next wave at Apple was emerging, the machine shaped by him, the Macintosh.

My goal was to some day work at Apple.

My own career followed the Macintosh, and I worked closely with Apple at different companies, but never for Apple.

At times that was a disappointment.

At other times that was a relief.

It was especially a relief in the dark days of the mid 90s, when Apple was faltering.  The companies I worked for started slowly developing Windows products.  At low ebb, in early 1996, having a resume with all Apple focused experience was a serious liability.

And then he came back to Apple.

Micheal Dell at the time said of Apple, “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

But Apple flourished.  Michael Dell has since had to eat those words.

Legends were born, stories oft repeated in the valley, rumors and the like, about him.  There was Fake Steve Jobs, which gave voice to what we thought was going through his head, and the legendary reality distortion field that seemed the only explanation at times as to the fierce loyalty people had for Apple products for people who failed to grasp the “less is more” design philosophy.

And while I moved away from Apple products professionally, I do not have to look far around our home to see things that he influence, my wife’s iPhone, the iMac in the family room, a selection of Pixar films on the shelf.

And, of course, the memory of half a lifetime’s worth of influence.

So when my wife called me at the office to tell me that Steve Jobs had died, it was a blow.

It was like somebody in the family had gone.

Steve Jobs Announcement from Apple

It is hard now to imagine a world without Steve Jobs.

It is hard to think of someone who has had as much influence on my life.

9 thoughts on “Farewell Steve Jobs

  1. Gallaria

    Excellent! Yes, it does feel as if someone in the family has gone. He was a one-off, one-of-a-kind, genius, and more. His influence will be felt for generations to come.


  2. Aufero

    In the 80’s, I thought of Steve Jobs as that marketing guy who thought he knew more about hardware than engineers, the man who perverted Steve Wozniak’s open hardware vision into the Macintosh line and killed further development and support for anything else. I expressed this opinion often to other geeks.

    I’ve eaten those words more than a few times since then.

    I’m not a fan of his management style, but I can’t think of a tech company CEO who influenced modern design half as much as Jobs. He really was a genius.


  3. Pingback: Steve Jobs: In Memoriam | maplemuse

  4. Melmoth

    For anyone who doesn’t know about it, folklore.org gives incredible insight into the workings of Apple from the earliest days, primarily extracted from the memories of Andy Hertzfeld. Well worth a read, although be warned: you will end-up spending a whole day reading the site.


  5. Darraxus

    I have never been a fan of apple computers, but their gadgets was where it was at. I love my Ipod and my wife loves her Iphone.

    He was a great innovator. Apple and Technology in general will suffer for this loss.


  6. Sharon

    Oh wow… Was that Lawson? I moved to Cupertino midway through high school, but haven’t been back since I graduated. I completely forgot about riding my bike as a teenager through that Apple campus.


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Sharon – Collins Junior High, which has since been turned into an elementary school.

    @Aufero – I was a big Apple II guy, and had an up-rated power supply in my //e (plus that standard Kensington cooling fan) because I had all the slots in it filled.

    The reason I waited for the Mac SE was that it had a processor direct slot in it, so expansion was possible. I almost immediately put a Radius 68020 accelerator card in it, and eventually put an SE/30 motherboard in it. I have had nearly a dozen Macs over the years, and almost all of them have been the expandable tower models, because that is the kind of person I am.

    But the vision of the Mac, which Steve Jobs has always pushed for, was the transition from a toy for techies to an appliance usable by anybody.

    We’re still ages from that, but the Mac has brought us a few steps in that direction. Remember back when every application had to know how to print to your printer. Printer compatibility used to be a huge deal. Then the Mac made it a layer of abstraction. Your app only had to be able to tell the OS to print. Hey, presto, printing from a given app was no longer an issue.


  8. Aufero

    @Wilhem – Yes, I gave up riding that particular hobby horse in the late 90s. Without Jobs’ influence, we’d be on version 27.4 of MS-DOS by now, and digital music players would still be clunky gadgets only used by geeks.

    I hung on to my original 1978 Apple II (and later IIgs) hardware (and all the expansion cards I breadboarded for them) until I realized during a garage cleaning about ten years ago that they’d never leave the boxes again. 6502 and 65816 assembly will probably remain engraved on my brain until death, but I happily recommend Mac desktops and notebooks to all my relatives who just want to use their machines, not live in them.


  9. Bronte

    Never used an apple product. Well that’s a lie, I DO have an iPod, but that is it. Yet i can’t deny the sheer impact this man had on the way we use technology of today. Farewell Mr. Jobs, and thanks for all the fish. Uh, fun.


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