Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Eight years after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and less than two months after resigning as CEO, Apple Chairman Steve Jobs died today.

Even in his absence, Apple Inc. is showing the perfect sense of style that Steve imbued to the company he co-founded 35 years ago. The website shows a picture of Steve

which then leads to a simple message
Steve Jobs
Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

If you would like to share your thoughts, memories, and condolences, please email
The company issued a brief official statement:
October 5, 2011

Statement by Apple’s Board of Directors
We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.
The San Francisco Chronicle was the first to post (as is common for newspapers) the pre-written obit, updated with today’s news, and accompanied by seven photos. (The San Jose and New York papers were slower to respond, and the Los Angeles Times obit, while it had interesting tidbits, was not nearly as good.)

Even having read most of the Apple histories, I learned a few things from the Chronicle’s story. While Steve (son of an unwed graduate student) didn’t have a lot in common with his adoptive father,
[Steve Jobs] considered it lucky that his dad, a machinist, moved the family to Mountain View when Jobs was a boy and gave him a workbench in their garage.

"My father, Paul, was a pretty remarkable man," Jobs said in a 1995 oral history for the Smithsonian Institution. "(He) was kind of a genius with his hands (who) spent a lot of time with me ... teaching me how to build things, how to take things apart, put things back together."
Both the LA and SF obits talked about his rivalry with Bill Gates — Gates praising Jobs in the former and Jobs scorning Gates in the latter.

My own life was changed by Jobs and his creation, the Macintosh. From its release in 1984, I sought to make my living around this magnificent machine, which I did for 16 years until becoming a full-time college professor in 2002.

Of course the Jobs I era (1977-1986) at Apple was separated from the Jobs II era (1997-2011) by a string of horrible CEOs who did their best to destroy the company. (Convinced they were going to succeed, I went back to grad school to learn a new trade). Beyond what I’ve said earlier, there is little I can add to these and other testimonials to the contribution Jobs made to the computer, electronics, entertainment and publishing industries.

The Chronicle summarized his contribution thusly:
Jobs was considered by many to be the greatest corporate leader of the last half century, and indeed his numerous successes rank him alongside Ford, Disney and Edison as a giant of American business.
Both the Chronicle and the Times quoted Jobs’ thoughts on death from his famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech as did the local ABC affiliate. Here is the longer quote in context:
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 as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
My prayers go out to Steve’s widow, Laurene, his two teenage daughters and his two adult children.

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