Friday, October 14, 2011

So long, Steve, and thanks for the future

In remembrance of Apple Inc.’s visionary leader
Steven Paul Jobs (1955 – 2011)

As far as technology goes, the last ten years have definitely been the decade of Apple. With the release of each of their iProducts, the company has revolutionized the tech industry, pushing the limits of popular technology and what it can do. None of this would have been possible without Steve Jobs, Apple’s then-CEO, who was not only at the helm of the renaissance of the company that he co-founded, but of an entire industry that would not have been the same without him.

In the wake of the announcement of his death, it feels almost surreal that the man in the black turtleneck will not deliver any more keynote speeches and will not be present at the launch of Apple’s future products. “It’s like Superman died,” someone has commented on a forum, and that sentiment seems remarkably apt. For the generation that has been lucky enough to witness the evolution of computing, the importance of Steve Jobs has been evident throughout these decades. His passion was palpable, his vision revolutionary, and his enthusiasm for technology contagious. And “the world,” as the official Apple statement reads, “is immeasurably better” because of him.

The person
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else's life.”
Born on the 24th of February 1955 and given up for adoption by his biological parents (Syrian father and American mother), Steve Jobs was raised by his adoptive parents in the Silicon Valley; he wouldn’t get to meet his biological sister, Mona Simpson, until they were both adults (in 1986). After finishing high school, he enrolled at Reed College before famously dropping out after only one semester. A visit to India led him to embrace Buddhism, and he would eventually marry his wife Laurene Powell (in 1991) in a ceremony presided by a Zen Buddhist monk; the couple would have three children – a son and two daughters – and he also had a daughter from a previous relationship. His health waned in recent years following his 2004 battle with pancreatic cancer, and ultimately forced him to step down from the position of his company’s CEO in August 2011.

The entrepreneur
“The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
After co-founding Apple (1976), then being ousted from his own company (1985), before eventually returning (1996), Steve Jobs become one of the most influential and celebrated people in the industry, building a global business empire and amassing an estimated $8.3 billion fortune. In between, he also founded NeXT, Inc. (1985), which was subsequently purchased by Apple (1996), and created Pixar (1986), which not only revitalized the animated film industry, but also made him Disney’s largest shareholder after it was purchased by the media conglomerate (2006).
Along the way, he used his almost uncanny ability to know what the consumers wanted, even before they knew it themselves, to create a vast array of products; most notably, he help popularize personal computers with the creation of the Apple II (1977) and Macintosh (1984), and then transformed the world of gadgets with the launch of devices like the iPod portable media player (2001) (and the accompanying iTunes digital media application (2001) and store (2003)), the iPhone smartphone (2007), and the iPad tablet computer (2010). His journey may have had its ups and down, but it ultimately transformed him into one of the most fascinating business executives of all time, as the company that he started in his parents’ garage went on to change the world.

The legacy
“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Irrespective of ones stance on Apple and its products, no one can deny the impact Steve Jobs has had on technology. From his contribution to fonts and GUI to popularizing sleek and powerful gadgets, Steve Jobs masterfully combined innovation with strong branding. He took ideas, transformed them into attractive products, and then sold the concepts to the world. His keynote (or "Stevenote") speeches were events that attracted massive attention. He transformed nerdy into hip, unleashing the geek in all of us. The Mac created a legion of fans with, as Douglas Adams put it, an “almost fanatical devotion to their machines”. And then the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad…each device had a ripple effect on the gadget industry as a whole, that not only created waves in his lifetime, but will continue to do so for many, many years to come.

In memoriam
  • “The world rarely sees someone who made such a profound impact. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with Steve, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.” – Bill Gates
  • “He was a great man with incredible achievements and amazing brilliance. He always seemed to be able to say in very few words what you actually should have been thinking before you thought it. His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me.” – Larry Page
  • “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.” – Mark Zuckerberg
  • “No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve's death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.” – Tim Cook
  • “We've lost something we won't get back. The way I see it, though, the way people love products he put so much into creating means he brought a lot of life to the world." – Steve Wozniak
- Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 14th October, 2011

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