For many computer/techie people, October 5th is and will be a bit of a bummer.
In all the media congestion of the normal news and debates, the impending death (or rather unemployment) of Big Bird, the Tigers finishing strong, the Lions reverting to....the Lions, and the Wings and all the other noise, today marks one year that Steve Jobs died.
I miss him. I never met him, but knowing he is gone bugs (no pun intended) me. Having been into computers since the 80's, I have seen much change. Throughout all that time, there were 2 dominant figures....Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Steve Wozniak was around too, but it was clear who the 2 'kings' were...Woz himself acknowledges that.
I am far more a 'Mac' guy than a 'PC' guy. But above that, I am a tech guy. I have been buying, playing with and using gadgets to the point of silliness, and it all started with a desire to do animation and music...creative pursuits in my early 20's. It is still a focus today, even though I now work in IT as a profession fixing, planning and generally making different technologies work and play nice with one another, that wash of WOW that hits me when I get a really cool tech toy, be it a piece or hardware OR a great piece of software, keeps me interested. Steve Jobs was the side of that coin that embraced THAT feeling, which is something I think Woz infected him with. Yes, he was into aesthetics, design, enhancement. But behind it all, his drive to make really cool, fun, useful things was the force that I believe drove him at the core. Steve believed that if you hit those marks, people would want them. As he aged, he enhanced this drive to focus, vision and perfection into a culture that rebuilt what is now arguabley the most powerful technology company ever.
As I have hit middle age, I have come to terms with myself as a rather firey idealist. I want the 'Star Trek' model, where the technology blends in in a organic manner in everyday life. I just want it to WORK. If you look at where we are now, iPads/iPhones (or Droids), streaming tv, wireless everywhere, etc. All these things were designed with an intent to be desirable (sell) and improve life, both productively and for fun. Apple took that core and added beauty in design. Steve was a leader at refining these so that they no longer required a dedicated 'geek' to run, but something that your Grandmother could take out of a box and make a video call to her grandkids 200 miles away in under 10 minutes. That is what an iPad is and does, which in turn has pushed Google (another fave of mine) and other companies to develop their own devices that aspire to this ease of use. None have hit it, but they are closing in, and a few are darn good. But it was Jobs who started this fire.
It is up to all of us to keep it going by pushing Apple AND other tech companies to keep refining, innovating and making technology improve our lives rather than weigh us down. Steve Jobs could be petulant, intolerant, and just not very nice. His legacy is right up there with Henry Ford, and Ihave read Ford described as the same type of man. One year after his passing, I am hopeful that the inertia and culture he put in place means more cool, great things are store for not only the techies, but everyone. And not only from Apple, but from other companies that may not even have been formed yet. Much like Ford, Apple has had some hits and misses. Not all the great products come from Apple. Not all the great cars have come from Ford, but it was Henry Ford and Steve Jobs that built these markets though their spirit and vision. Both continue to evolve and make winning products to make out lives better. Today, I spent a few minutes thanking Steve Jobs, where ever he is now. He was my generations' Henry Ford.