Steve Jobs has died far too young. It is amazing how much he accomplished in his 56 years. He was one of those once-in-a-generation visionaries who transformed the computer, consumer electronics, movie, telecom, and music industries. He built a company that thinks different and is structured differently to every other company out there.
Apple, under Steve, blended that tricky mixture of engineering savvy with artistry to create devices for the rest of us. From his teenage years working for HP and Atari he had a fascination with computers and burning vision to make computers accessible to everyone. He mastered the art of addition through subtraction and fearlessly murdered his darlings.
I was just talking to Jaime this morning about what the world would have been like without Jobs. No iPhone, no Apple II, no Macintosh, no iPad, no iPod, no Pixar, no iTunes, and so much more. The technology world would be far starker and desolate without his transformative vision.
It is this vision that intrigues me the most. I recently read the interview that Playboy Magazine carried out with him in 1985 when he was 29. At that time Apple had just introduced the Macintosh which was a radical departure from any commercial computer system previously available. In the interview Steve talks about one day wanting computers to be ubiquitous devices able to communicate and network with one another to improve our lives. Steve wanted to make the computer as simple to use as an appliance so that the vast power that they represent could be accessible to everyone. He talks about the day a computer could act as a type of digital assistant capable of responding to natural language commands to help us in our tasks. With the iPad I believe that Steve has come closer than anyone else to turning the computer into an appliance (in a good way), while with yesterday's unveiling of Siri the iPhone can now act as a digital assistant. It took 26 years from the time of the article, but the vision he shared in that Playboy article has finally become a reality.
On a personal note, I switched to using a Mac seven years ago at the start of my PhD. Not for a single day have I regretted that decision. The Mac, and the generally superior software available, have dramatically reduced the friction I experience when using a computer.
Thank you Steve for making my life better.