Friday, October 7, 2011

A Tribute to Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

Right from the start, let me say that I have never owned, or used, an Apple electronic device. The computers I operate have always been PCs or laptops, empowered by Microsoft operating systems from one version of Windows to the next. My phone is certainly not smart, yet it’s endowed with features and services that I don’t know how to use. I enjoy digitally recorded music, but I’ve never purchased it online nor listened to it on a gadget small enough to fit in my pocket.

In addition, I can’t recall offhand a single Pixar movie I’ve seen. For me, a tablet is something to be swallowed before bedtime and an application is something to send in the mail. 

I am a digitally challenged adult. Yet even so, everything in my day to day use of modern technology has been made possible in its present format by the innovation and vision of Steve Jobs.

At one time the marketing slogan of Apple computers was “Think Different.” If nothing else, Steve Jobs knew how to think outside the box. Take the design of personal computers. Who said that computers had to be big, or ugly, or dull in color? I remember the first Apple computer I ever saw. It was used by the staff of the front office at the original Jerusalem Hilton back in 1983 to print out guest lists. That early Apple was not pretty, but later versions made computer design a work of art.

More importantly was what a user saw on his computer screen. Apple’s insistence on graphically pleasing user interfaces led to improvements by its competitors at Microsoft. If it hadn’t have been for Steve Jobs taking a calligraphy class after dropping out of college, we never would have had beautiful typography in our word processing programs.

The Internet and Facebook are full of tributes to Steve Jobs. One of them described the three most important apples in history – the one eaten by Adam and Eve; the one that led to Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity; and the company led by Steve Jobs. You might want to add to the list the Apple Record label founded by the Beatles, but the point is clear.

A cartoon I saw shows Steve Jobs arriving at the Pearly Gates of Heavens, where St. Peter is checking the registry of arrivals. Steve tells him, “I have an app for that.”

I have no doubt that with his eye for design, Steve Jobs is busy dreaming up ways to make the afterlife more user-friendly.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.
Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address, 2005

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