Farewell, Steve. And thank you…

"Steve Jobs"

Photo courtesy of appadvice.com

At this point, now over a week later, what more can possibly be said?  I guess just the personal part…

I was sitting in my hotel room just outside the Springdale, Utah entrance to Zion National Park.  I was reading on my iPad the fact that the heavy rains expected to hit the area would most assuredly close down the Virgin Narrows hike I was looking forward to tackling the next morning.  The familiar bing, signaling a received text message on my iPhone, broke my concentrated disappointment and so I looked up to see that my daughter was chiming in.  Her text message was simple and stark: “Steve Jobs died.”

I felt the sudden absence of air in the room.  I noticed the still silence.  Wait, I know he’s very sick… but this fast?  This soon?  I thought we were going to hear from him for a bit longer, knowing with some confidence that Apple’s major product decisions would continue to be run by the historic visionary who changed everything.

But it’s not to be…

I worked for a company that deployed Apple products back in the 1990s.  It was a rarity since every other sane place on Earth used Windows computers, which I had fully embraced as the only reliable and worthwhile option.  In fact, I had become quite the evangelist for Microsoft’s products having singlehandedly introduced Windows 3.0 into the huge corporation where I worked at the time.

Every time someone, such as my younger brother, Rob, commented about the superiority of Macs, I shrugged it off.  He was an academic after all and what do they know about the real world?  It’s Earth here and they can do whatever they want in the outer galactic realm where they reside.  I’m sure the Mac is suitable for them.  Man was I smug.

So at the company where we had Apple products, I had mixed emotions.  It looked a lot like Windows and it seemed a bit more reliable, but it was not worlds better.  And I hated that when I emailed a Word document to somebody who was back on Earth, there were all these little oddities and complexities, formatting gotchas and googlysnobbins that irritated.  What’s the point?

So, it was  few years later. We were visiting Rob and his family in Chicago and I had been away from all of my usual electronic connection devices for a few weeks.  I was eager to trudge through my email inbox and so I asked him if I could use his computer.  He introduced me to his brand new Apple OS X notebook computer and within minutes, I was mildly hooked.  Apple had upped its game.  I noticed.  And I liked it.

Flash forward a little while and I was tasked with preparing the tear jerking, memory lane video for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party.  Old scanned photos, Super 8 clips, more current digital photos and video bits, snappy music… all a piece of cake.  I researched and purchased the required software programs and set out to accomplish the task on my more than capable Dell laptop computer.

My struggle was only slightly less epic than Frodo’s and Samwise’s ascent up Mount Doom within the black land of Mordor.  I won’t bore you with the details, but it includes scores of phone calls to tech support centers at various software companies, Dell, and Microsoft.  It was bad.

“You could do this on a Mac.”  My colleague at work said it and I remember the moment.  “All the software you need comes on the computer and if you have questions, you just call Apple.  It’s simple.”  And into the lava fell the ring… and Gollum too.  I was saved.  I was free.

There are many more chapters, but this is the first.  I’ll spare you the rest.  It was 2002 and I was born again.

iPod.  iPhone.  iPad.  MacBook Air. Aperture.  Final Cut Pro.  There are more chapters.

I’m fascinated by the vision and boldness of Steve Jobs, a man who was basically thrown out of the company he helped found by the professional management team that the board of directors there deemed better suited to take the company forward.  Many predicted their demise, saying that bigger, better companies such as HP ought to buy the place and fix it up some.  That was their only hope.

Against all odds, Mr. Jobs and his team at Apple, recrafted the company into a music distributer, smartphone, tablet-making and now, industry leading computer corporate giant.  And the simplicity and elegance that all led to the successful completion of my parent’s anniversary video have helped me and many others to reach creative plateaus previously unconsidered.  And those characteristics shaped every product launch of the Jobs era.

And even if you’re not an Apple Fanboy/girl, you have to admit that Apple’s innovations have made Adobe, Microsoft, Google and many others try much, much harder.  And we’re all the better for it.

Farewell, Steve.  And thank you…

Posted by Rey

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