The passing of Steve Jobs, while not completely unexpected, is still shocking and resonates beyond belief. How he touched everyone’s life, whether they know it or not, is hard to comprehend. I could go on and on about his impact on my life. Growing up playing games on an Apple II in the basement of my friend’s house, walking across the RPI campus in the dead of winter to complete papers at the Macintosh lab, or getting through business school on my Powerbook, but his products are not what define who Steve Jobs is to me.
As anyone who knows me well will attest, I’m not a fan of Apple. While I feel their products and user interfaces are top shelf, I do not agree with their overall business practices. However, that does not mean that I don’t respect what Jobs has done or admire who he is.
Steve Jobs was about more than the products and the companies he created. Jobs is legendary for how he lived his life. He was a man of principle. He had a vision of how to make the world a better place for everyone through technology and had the conviction to see it through no matter what the obstacles.
While I could illustrate this through numerous examples, I am going to pick one that has created a passion for me – the mobile phone. Jobs had a vision that the device we carry around with us everywhere we go could be more than a simple phone if it could be freed from the restrictions the carriers placed on it. Instead of talking about what could or should be done, Jobs took his vision and implemented it. In the face of opposition from carriers, existing manufacturers, and doubters (like me at the time), he had the conviction to take on the establishment to change the world. In four short years, he transformed the mobile industry from a slow moving, carrier controlled environment to a fast moving, Wild West environment where the only limit to what can be done is your imagination.
His vision and conviction has opened the mobile industry up for thousands of developers across the world to put a power in our hands that would have been unimaginable five years ago. It has revolutionized an industry and given me a canvas on which to build my own dream and vision. Without the vision and conviction of one Steve Jobs, that canvas would not exist. Even though I never had the opportunity to meet him, I would only have one word to say to him: Thanks.
In memory of Steve Jobs, I’m going to close with “one more thing”. In August, when Steve Jobs stepped away from Apple, I was reading through the many tributes paid to him at the time. One video that particularly struck me was the commencement address he gave at Stanford in 2005. It’s only 15 minutes long, but it’s worth watching every minute of it. Not only does it give you insight into the kind of person Steve Jobs was, but it will also inspire you. Enjoy.