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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rest In Peace, Steve Jobs

What can most people write about a man who changed a generation? All I can say is that Steve Jobs' creations defined my generation and the generation that came after it.

When I was in elementary school, the original Apple personal computer came out. It was a unique fad, or so we thought. Personal computers were not widely available back then and they cost an arm and a leg. Back then we had punch-cards that you marked off with an HB pencil and they were taken to a mainframe of some sort that figured out your answers and whether you passed the test or not. The personal computer was a pipe-dream...or so we thought. To Steve Jobs, it wasn't. He was a visionary. He pictured a computer in every home, in every school, in all walks of life, even before most people thought it was a logical move. His Apple and Mac computers made this possible.

The simple fact that I am typing this eulogy on a laptop computer is partly because of Steve Jobs. The ensuing battle between Steve Jobs' Apple Corporation and Microsoft magnate Bill Gates' Personal Computer (PC) caused computer prices to drop to the point where most people could afford one or the other.

The first industry to profit from this was the personal computer gaming industry. There were a lot of games during the 80s. Some good (like The Legend of Zelda) and some not so good, but we had a variety with the Apple and Apple II computers. The first personal computers by Apple were the realm of the creatives and that's where Apple's niche has been. Microsoft won the business war...and that's where their niche has been.

When MP3s first came out, Steve Jobs was at the forefront of the technology. He envisioned a device that could be used anywhere and that fit in one's pocket, a small boombox that could be taken anywhere without having to have a whole load of tapes or CDs to be carried around with you. He thus invented a way to digitize music and then the device to play it with, and thus was born the iPod. Now it has gone through several changes. Now it plays different forms of multimedia. For the longest time, I resisted becoming a Pod-person (the derogative nickname for people who seem to be glued to their iPods), but now I have a Nano 8GB powder blue iPod to which I appear to constantly drag around with me. Yes, that was another game-changer.

Then there was the run to compete with Blackberry and the iPhone came into being. To think that you could create "applications - Apps for short" and use them in the same way that you can run programs on your computer and it all fits in the palm of your hand or in your pocket. Steve Jobs was responsible for putting the term "There's an App for that" in the vernacular. Now Blackberry isn't as popular as it used to be...and everywhere I look (including in my wife's hand) is an iPhone.

Without Steve Jobs' vision, the digital darkroom would never have had a chance to grow, and we would still be tinkering with noxious chemicals and emulsion fluids in the dark cramped confines of a standard darkroom. But with the advent of the personal computer and the resultant flock of programmers who designed new programs for creative photographers, we now have the equivalent of the darkroom on our desktop without having to deal with smelling foul-smelling chemicals...and giving our doctors (eventually) their sons' and daughters' college educations.

The visionary that was Steve Jobs had incredible foresight and intuition into what it was that people were looking for in their technology that they use every day. There are very few people in this world who can change the world like he did. Henry Ford was one of those types of visionaries. Thomas Edison was yet another. But to instantaneously bring about a change in the way we do business, in the way we share our information, in the way we entertain ourselves on a worldwide scale and in such a short period of time, that is a visionary of incomparable skill and acumen. And that was the type of visionary that Steve Jobs was. The tech world has lost a great leader and visionary; the likes of which we may never see again in our lifetime.

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs. You've earned it.

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