Every person is special and unique. Each of us has a special calling in life and a role to fulfill and throughout our life’s path we all have a chance to touch the lives of others. We inspire each other. We make a difference. For the vast majority of us our reach and contributions are limited to our specific network of family, friends, colleagues, clients and communities.
And then there are those special, rare folks whose contributions are global in influence. These folks, through their work, profoundly change lives, change society and ultimately change history. Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Computers and Pixar Animation, was such an individual. Today he passed away following complications from a 7-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.
If there was ever a life story that was the model of the American success story, Steve Jobs’ story is it. A technology entrepreneur he co-founded Apple Computers in a garage with two friends and within 10 years had shepherded it into a multi-billion dollar company with a few thousand employees. After a very public ousting from the company he founded he went on and launched two additional start-ups, NeXT Computers and Pixar Animation. Eventually Apple would buy out NeXT which would lead Jobs to return to the helm of the company he originally founded and would captain until shortly before his death. All told, Jobs’ work with Apple Computers revolutionized generations of folks in how we looked at and took to technology and through his work at Pixar he revolutionized the way an entire generation of families looked at the art of the animated feature film.
For those of us who grew up following the technology or business sector over the past 30 years the name Steve Jobs is nearly synonymous with technology entrepreneurship. Perhaps more telling though as word of his passing spread today to me was the number of folks who asked, “Who’s Steve Jobs?” As I explained to folks, “He’s the guy who founded Apple Computer and created the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad and the guy behind Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Incredibles, Monsters, Inc, Up, Ratatouile, and Wall-E” the sheer impact he’s made on society over the past few decades clearly becomes immense as these folks who’d never heard his name before went, “Wow.” For the average person, just being able to lay claim to founding a successful film studio that boasts a string of hit movies is a huge accomplishment alone. But his vision in helming the success of Apple Computers and it’s various products is a tremendous accomplishment in the way it has defined and continued to redefine the way we view technology and the way it’s helped us to shape and interact with the world around us.
I never had the privilege of meeting Steve Jobs in person but being both a tech person and a former business major (MBA, Entrepreneurship focus) I ALWAYS admired Jobs and the Apple story and Jobs story was one of the many case studies we looked at during my studies.
How did Jobs influence me personally? Growing up in the 1980s our school system fostered us as the Apple generation. My elementary school was one of the fortunate ones that was able to build a computer lab and offer a computer education. I got my first exposure to computers at the tender age of 10 learning on Apple IIes and Apple IIgs. My early computer education would stick with me the rest of the my life to this very day where I’ve parlayed it into a successful career doing technical training and media production work. Over the years as my career developed I had to go on and gain some expertise working with Windows and Linux systems being a tech person but I have ALWAYS considered myself a Mac person first and foremost and consider it my base system. For the past several years my primary system has been my trusty and reliable MacBook Pro which has seen me through 2 graduate school degrees and the apex of my career following me from meeting to meeting whether I’m in a room full of students, fellow colleagues, senior executives, the Governor of our State, in a classroom, in a boardroom, in an airport or a hotel room across the country. My trusty Mac very much is my companion.
Apple has always marketed itself as the platform of choice for educators and media production professionals which fits in exactly with what I do. The past several years have been exciting for those of us in education with the rise of the iPod, the iPad and the various iLife Suite apps which has made it extremely easy for us to share and document our lives in pictures, movies and music. In more recent times with the rise of mobile devices the new suite of mobile apps continues to help us redefine not only the way we teach but the way we live and interact with the world.
Apple products have been the backbone of my life for the past several years. My iTunes holds thousands upon thousands of songs. My iPhoto is the gallery of the past decade or so of my life. Thousands of the greatest moments of my life were edited in iMovie and posted to YouTube. My iPod (when I had one) accompanied me for hundreds upon hundreds of miles and hours jogging or working out in the gym and my iPad traveled with me across the continent and back keeping me company with various eBooks, Netflix movies and time killing games. Had we been AT&T customers the iPhone would have been a huge part of my life all these years (we’re T-Mobile people so I’ve been an Android person since day 1).
Steve Jobs has passed on. Those of us familiar with his work know the amazing story of a man who dreamed VERY big and changed the way we all live and interact with the world on a daily basis. Without Steve Jobs a generation of kids in the 80’s would’ve learned computers on those horrible DOS machines without the beautiful Apple GUI. Without Jobs the current generation of kids would not have grown up in the digital world of iLife. They would not have touchscreen devices, phones or tablets. There would not have been an “App for Everything.” Most definitely I know **I** probably would not be the same person had there been no Apple to get me started down the technology path back in the 80s.
For those folks out there who had not heard the name Steve Jobs before today, while they may not have known the name of the man, they most DEFINITELY knew of the things in our lives he was responsible for. Unless you’ve lived under a rock it’s impossible to think you’ve NEVER heard of or used an Apple Computer — or an iPod — or an iPhone — or on iPad — or scene a Pixar film.
It’s a tragedy for sure that Steve Jobs has passed on at the young age of 56 and we definitely send our condolences to his wife and children. We also mourn the loss of a great American hero and one of the most innovative, brilliant minds this planet ever saw. But I like to think that in his 56 years Steve Jobs was able to accomplish and contribute more than what many of us would take many, many, many lifetimes to accomplish. We was a RARE breed of human blessed with God-given talents. Those of us in this generation and the succeeding generations were all the more blessed for his sharing of his gifts with us in this lifetime.
iThank You Steve. Rest in peace.