I've seen Steve Jobs in person three times in my life. I saw him give the keynote address at Macworld New York on July 19, 2000, the introduction of the unique G4 Cube computer. I then saw Steve Jobs unveil another unique cube when I attended the opening of the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue on May 19, 2006. A few months after that, I was eating lunch at Caffe Macs (the cafeteria on Apple's campus in Cupertino, California) and Steve Jobs and Jony Ive sat down at a table next to us to have lunch. Those occasions were the most minor of connections between me and Jobs, and yet there are few people who have touched my life so much without being a friend or family member.
My love of technology probably began with the Atari 2600, but it started to grow when I learned how to program on an Apple II computer in Sixth Grade. Years later, I would save up enough money from a summer job in college to buy my own Mac (a Mac Plus) and I've been an avid Mac user ever since. And after Steve Jobs returned to Apple and steered the company towards its current renaissance, I became an avid user of the iPod, then the iPhone, and then the iPad, all technology that has enriched my life in more ways than I can possibly count, such as prompting me to start this website.
We all knew that this day would come — as it will for all of us — but it is still hard to imagine that Steve Jobs is no longer around to inspire great technology and deliver amazing presentations. But of course, his presence remains. As Apple states on its website right now: "Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple." I have no doubt that is true. I had few concerns for Apple when Steve recently retired because I knew that Apple employees are constantly analyzing their work through the prism of what would Jobs see and think, and while that doesn't mean that every product will be a home run (that G4 Cube I saw him pitch in 2000 never did take off), it does mean that his spirit will live on forever.
One of my favorite technology journalists, Steven Levy, wrote a beautiful and comprehensive obituary for Wired magazine. When you have the time to sit down and read something that is over 5,000 words, read this.
On the opposite extreme in terms of length, there is always Twitter. I saw so many interesting posts on Twitter after the news broke last night. In fact, "broke" is the right word; I hear that at one point last night, 17% of all tweets on Twitter related to Steve Jobs, and then shortly after that Twitter broke from overload and shut down for a short period of time. Here are just a few of the tweets that caught my attention:
- The White House: "Brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world & talented enough to do it" -Obama on #SteveJobs
- Jason Snell:
- Laurie Voss: (All the windows users are thinking: why is everyone tweeting a rectangle?)
- Bill Gates: For those of us lucky enough to get to work with Steve, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.
- Harry McCracken: Pixar alone would have been a dazzling legacy.
- Laura La: Maybe that's why Apple went with "4s" rather than "5": For Steve (4-S). RIP Steve Jobs.
- John Hodgman: Everything good I have done, I have done on a Mac.
- Jay Shepherd: I'd rather be a pirate. RIP Steve Jobs
- IDWJustin: RT if you're touching an Apple product. #SteveJobs
- Barack Obama: Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. From all of us at #Obama2012, thank you for the work you make possible every day—including ours.
- Jason Snell: Everyone who uses a personal computer or smartphone owes something to Steve Jobs. Talk about changing the world.
- Andy Ihnatko: Steve Jobs, shaper of ideas, is dead.
- Rachel: Siri, bring back Steve Jobs.
- Ernest Svenson: Is it the best you can do? No? Then go back and make it the best. — Steve Jobs
- Jim Dalrymple: Here's to the crazy ones. Cheers Steve
- Jason Hiner: 100 years from now, people will still marvel at how Steve Jobs changed the world by humanizing technology.
- Joshua Topolsky: One thing I see tonight: Steve Jobs had a crazy ability to affect those who knew him well or didn't know him at all. An astounding legacy.
- David Chartier: Let's all go make great things tomorrow.
I'll share three more links before I close. First, if you read only one tribute to Steve Jobs, read this one by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. If you read one more, read this one by Om Malik of GigaOm. Finally, I've embedded below the commencement address that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford on June 12, 2005. If you haven't watched it before, it is a classic that will inspire you, although be warned that it will also bring a tear to your eye.
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.