It’s been a little over a month since Steve Jobs passed away, and I’ve toyed with this post since then. As is the case with everyone who knew he was battling cancer, it was expected and yet, it seemed sudden. As I opened up a new tab to apple.com, hoping against hope that it was just a twitter rumor, I was greeted by a page that carried the simple words, “Steve Jobs, 1955–2011.” I spent the rest of the morning watching the news coverage highlighting his life and realized that a person’s legacy is what happens when he passes, the people that are touched by the news, and the impact that has on everything we do.
Screenshot from apple.com, taken Oct 7, 2011
My obsession with computers can be traced back to 1988. Although, considering the timeframe, it focused on Bill Gates and Microsoft. I learnt over time, more so in 2002 that my calling was more about the story of Apple. That was the year I ventured into the offices of The Triangle, and continued to toy with Macs full time until I left in 2005. It was 2008 before I would get my hands on another Apple device, and I finally (happily) moved to an Apple computer in 2010. During the last few years, I’ve looked over the start of the computing era over and over, with movies such as Pirates of Silicon Valley and books such as iWoz. Now that I managed to get through Steve Jobs, I feel in a better place to put down this post.
I think about the Think Different campaign more so since I heard the Steve Jobs rendition of the ad; there is passion in his voice as he narrates it, because — unlike Dryfus, the narrater of aired advert — he believed and equally, understood the words he spoke. I have played Jobs’ version about once a day since I first heard it, and I encourage anyone who might be interested to play it out (see it here or at the Remembering Steve event, starting at 9:45).
I know that he wasn’t a perfect person but as I’ve grown to understand, and as been stated already — Apple was a company only someone like Steve Jobs could have built. With all his passion. His perfection. His eccentricities. His abrasiveness. With who he was.
People talk about the flailings of a man that powerful, someone who had a bad side, someone who drove people to madness and had shouting fits with anyone and everyone. As he himself told a former staffer who tried to fight him, “…you have no idea what it’s like to be me.” I get that. I really, really do.
I think also, that it makes sense to look at what he did right. Of where his ‘reality distortion field’ pushed people to do things they didn’t think possible, whether it was the first Macintosh, or the iPhone. For someone to tell a supplier that the reason they couldn’t do something was because they didn’t believe they could, and that, if they tried, they’d get it, takes a unique set of guts and he had them. He read people instinctively and he knew how to push them, how to get at them. And how to get the best out of them. And it’s those people, the ones who understood, are the ones who will tell you a story about a man who changed the world.
Jobs today is credited for being the person behind revolutions in the music industry, smartphones, PC, tablet, animated movies, retail stores … and Apple itself. His story will be told for a while, of the revisions he made to everything, of his second coming — back to Apple, of his belief that hardware and software should be integrated and not fragmented for it to work, for bullying the music industry into submission — and saving them to an extent — and more.
Even John Scully, the man who ousted Jobs way back when, revealed later on that he believed the Apple Board should have sided with Jobs in that power struggle, and that says a lot. Jobs Commencement Address at Standford is considered by many as one of the best; where he cited three approaches that he wanted to pass on:
- Keep looking (for what you love), don’t settle
- Death is the single best invention of life, it’s life’s change agent.
- My favorite line in this section was: “Even people who want to get to heaven don’t want to die to get there”
- ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’
Today, we all strive to make something the Apple of its category, and I think that says a lot. I find it even more interesting — even though he obviously didn’t intend it that way — that his (approved) biography released was completed and released some 10 days prior to his passing away, thereby being perfect, complete, in all the events leading up to it.
In the end, the best statement to Jobs’ legacy is the line he himself approved in an ad that ran all those years ago, “…the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world…are the ones who do.”
- Mona Simpson’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs
- Remembering Steve, Apple event for Steve Jobs held Oct 19, 2011
- Steve Jobs Commencement Address, Standford, 2005
- Steve Jobs was always kind to me (Or, regrets of an asshole)