Steve Jobs RIP
Steve Jobs' impact on modern society can not be understated. He may not have invented the internet, but he helped make it possible. Jobs helped usher in the age of personal computing by first seeing the potential of his friend Steve Wozniak's homemade computer and helping to create the first mass-market personal computer with the Apple II.
It was a visit to Xerox PARC where Steve's dream of something "Insanely Great" was first sparked. It was on that visit that Jobs was exposed to three technologies which dominate computing today: object oriented programming, Ethernet and a revolutionary new way of computing... the Graphical User Interface (GUI).
PARC was interested in inventing new technologies, not bringing them to market, but once Jobs laid his eyes on the GUI he saw the future where people computed with images on the screen manipulated with a mouse and not by typing in archaic commands to make the computer do what they wanted it to do.
Jobs' first attempt at a GUI computer was the LISA which was far too costly for the mass market that Jobs envisioned. He turned his sights on an affordable computer that was so easy to use that anyone could plug it in and start using it. Jobs vision for an "insanely great" computer became the Macintosh and it opened the floodgates to modern personal computers and provided the platform for the internet to emerge to the mass public a decade later.
Most people would stop after making two such revolutionary contributions to the world, but Jobs was driven by his constant desire to dream and achieve the impossible dream.
At a time when most were writing the epitaph for Apple Computer, following the years after Jobs was ousted in a boardroom showdown, Jobs returned to company and led it to an unprecedented turn around.
One of his most significant achievements in his second era at Apple was to bring the music industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century and convincing them that the digital distributions of music was the future.
Jobs succeeded where others had failed and managed to convince all of the major record labels to allow their music to be sold on the new iTunes store, which gave Apple's other musical innovation, The iPod, a new platform for expansion. Now digital music sales dominate the industry but it was only a few short years ago when the record industry was content with fighting the technology instead of embracing it. It took a visionary like Jobs to make it happen.
From the first Apple II to today's iPad and iPhone, Jobs vision of elegant and user friendly devices designed to make life easier for the user can be seen everywhere. A lot has been written and will be written about Jobs' force of personality, but it was exactly that force that allowed Jobs to not only envision his dreams but make others true believes who could help make the dreams a reality.
Steven Jobs wasn't a philosopher in the traditional sense, he wasn't a world leader or a diplomat, but it would be hard to find many people who have made such an impact on the world they lived in and the future. We owe Steve Jobs our thanks for his "insanely great" innovations and for paving the way by seeing the road ahead that no one else could see. The world is a sadder place without him and the road ahead is dimmer but as Jobs once said "the journey is the reward." He had one hell of a journey.