We’ve spent most of the week digesting the news of Steve Jobs’ death. While we knew that it was inevitable and we had prepared for the last few years, it still came as a tremendous shock.
The Twitter feed with the hashtag “#thankyousteve” was moving faster than the United States debt calculator. There is no doubt that the U.S. has problems with cash flow and there is equally no doubt that we owe Steve Jobs a great deal.
When Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple Computer in the garage they mused over how cool it would be if everyone had a computer in their home. “Heck”, they thought, “If we do it right maybe some day you could have two!”
In 1956, when Jobs was a year old, the IBM RAMAC was the size of your kitchen, held 4.4 MB of information, and had a whopping cost of $10,000 per MB. The Apple I that Jobs and Wozniak built wasn’t a speed demon by today’s standards but they did have a computer that you could pick up and carry for $666.66.
Apple was the first computer that you could have in your home with a color monitor. Apple did away with monochrome, boring typeface and brought in eye-catching fonts with crazy names like “elefont” and “ransom” that gave way to “Geneva” and “Paris”. Imagine if Jobs had never taken that calligraphy class. Apple’s first machines were built with open architecture and had sound. They were fun.
In 1984 Apple unveiled the Macintosh, which again changed the game. The PowerBook in 1991 set the bar for all of the laptops that followed. The first iMac in 1998, with its funky, teardrop shape, bubblegum colors, and ease of use and set-up, made us re-think what a home computer should be and look like. Apple is famous for its “1984” commercial for the Mac (directed by Ridley Scott of “Blade Runner” fame), but does anyone remember the “Simplicity Shootout”? It pitted a Stanford MBA student with an HP against a 7 year old with an iMac in a “set up your new computer challenge.” HP required a tower, tons of cables, external speakers, and the entire desk. The 7 year old opened his box, hooked up his mouse and keyboard, plugged it into the wall, and was on the Internet. Johann and his Border Collie beat the MBA by a mile.
In 2001 Jobs shocked us again with the iPod. It would forever change the way that we interact with music. Apple certainly didn’t invent the MP3 and they weren’t the first digital audio player on the market, but they simply did it better. The first commercial MP3 player, the MPMan, had a screen like a beeper window and a memory of 32 MB. The first iPod had a great display window, and a click wheel to help you find your music. The window and click wheel were a must because that first generation iPod had 5 GB of memory and put 1,000 songs in your pocket. From idea to design and testing to unveiling in about a year. Talk about taking an idea and running with it.
On January 9, 2007, Jobs gave us the iPhone. It was not the first computer with a touch screen. It wasn’t even the first mobile device with a touch screen. But, like all things Apple, it just worked. And worked better. The smart phone world has been playing catch-up ever since.
On January 27, 2010, Jobs came down from the mountaintop like Moses and brought us a tablet. Easier to carry than a laptop, easier to see and navigate than a smart phone, the iPad became the fastest selling gadget in history. Apple sold 300,000 units the first day, ramped up to about a million a month, and celebrated the first birthday of the iPad with about 15 million units sold. If you think that the iPad didn’t impact personal computing consider this: Sales of personal computers dropped over 50 % in the month after the iPad’s launch.
We could go on all week with stories about how Apple and Steve Jobs have changed our lives. “Think Different”, Jobs said. “It just works.” “One more thing…”
Steve Jobs read a quote during an address at Stanford a few years back. “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It would seem that he truly took that to heart. In his Stanford address he said, “…Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.”
Steve Jobs is dead, but he will live with us every day. Listening to the music of Nirvana still moves us even though Kurt Cobain has turned off his amp. The comedy of George Carlin still makes our sides hurt long after Carlin left our stage. The works of Picasso still inspire decades after Pablo set down his last brush.
This morning we awoke to the chirping of our iPhone. We awaited coffee in the kitchen as Newsstand filtered our daily read on our iPad. We got to work on our iMac and began to sort our day.
And for all of that, Thank You Steve. It all just worked. We’ll see you later.