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.
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.