Like everyone else my life has been touched in profound ways by Steve Jobs. This makes his passing yesterday an event with worldwide consequences and a cause for reflection by nearly everyone who has been involved in technology in the last 30 years.
Steve first touched my life in the early 80’s as I got my first computer experience on an Apple II at school. I had no idea what it was all about at that time. We just used the beat up boxy green screened device to play simple games.
Later I would move away from Apple to systems like the ill fated TI/994a, the equally brief lived TRS80 and the very popular Commodore 64/128. I would get the bulk of my early computing and developing experience on these platforms. I was blissfully unaware of Jobs and Apple during this time. I never owned or even used a Macintosh or an iMac.
My next encounter with the world of Steve Jobs was when I saw my first Pixar film. The computer generated animation was groundbreaking for me and I was blown away by Toy Story and the successive films from that company.
My wife reminded me that my next interaction with Apple was meeting her online. Her 70 year old father bought his first computer a Mac and she was using it to go online when we first met in an IRC chatroom. Later they would go to PCs instead but again Job’s and Apple were in my life in ways that I sometimes don’t even think about.
It would be another few years until I bought my first iPod. I wasn’t an early adopter of that technology but I was impressed by its simple, easy to use interface and the power of having music (and by the time I bought one video) all in a small package. The iPod touch was an even bigger leap for me and it was as close as I would get to an iPhone.
The next big thing of course was the iPad. The tablet computer wasn’t new but it was new for it to be affordable and usable for the masses and the iOS software on it was very simple to use and powerful. The device quickly became a constant companion going everywhere with me and finally giving me what I had wanted. One device to do email, video, music, books, magazines and even games and productivity. The introduction into the mainstream is revolutionary. The computing world will never be the same.
I have since moved on from iOS to the Android OS. I felt constrained by the restrictions of the iOS and the policies of Apple to control my every experience and limit my choices. I found more freedom and control with Android and now use my iPod only in the car and my iPad only when my Motorola Xoom tablet isn’t available (it is off now getting upgraded to LTE). But all of those devices are shaped and influenced by the creativity and innovative spirit of Steve Jobs. He brought me and everyone else to a point where something like Android tablets are possible and even if I am no longer much of a customer to Apple I am forever in their, and his debt, for the contributions they continue to make to technology.
Steve Jobs is one of a kind and I don’t expect anyone to replace him, but hopefully his spirit will inspire others to strive to innovate, to create things that even if they aren’t new don’t exist for everyone in the shape and manner in which they should. He brought the future to the present and changed the world, which I think is exactly what he wanted to do when he started.