Although it came as no surprise to anyone that saw Steve Jobs and knew of his illness in the last few years, his death still hit many very hard. Steve was an icon. He truly was this generation's Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford. And like Walt Disney, he was a true visionary. Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile, but he invented a way to produce it more efficiently, more affordable. And Steve Jobs didn't invent the computer, but he did make it better, making it simpler to use and more available to the masses. I don't have an ENIAC computer in my basement. But I still have an old Apple IIGS sitting in a box somewhere under my basement stairs next to the box of vinyl albums I can't seem to part with. I can remember beholding the beautiful beige box that was the first 128K Macintosh in 1985.
Many of us in the graphic arts field owe our careers to the technological innovation that Steve Jobs and Apple have brought us over the last thirty five years. Who knows what this industry would look like if not for things like the WYSIWYG interface, the LaserWriter for PostScript, and system-level color management (ColorSync). Apple didn't invent things like the computer mouse (They got the idea from Xerox), or PostScript (Adobe). But Steve Jobs had the vision and know how to bring it to the market. And the primary market for Apple in the early days was the creative and graphic art market. A market that is still very loyal to Apple today. Apple, arguably more than any other company, enabled the desktop publishing revolution back in the 1980s.
An Amish friend of mine still owns the first Apple 1 computer (circa 1976) that came with a can Pledge and a box of nails to use for maintenance. He tells me that the CPU inside is an actual pine cone. I keep telling him to upgrade, but... Okay, that's not true. I don't know any Amish people. I did calibrate my first monitor that was connected to this baby though. Okay, still not true...
What Steve Jobs has done with Apple computer is nothing short of amazing. Over the years, apple has transitioned from a small computer company with a tiny market share to a global consumer electronics empire. Innovative products like the iMac, iPod and iTunes, iPhone, and iPad have saved the company from the brink of irrelevance.
Apple almost didn't make it. I recall going to a Seybold conference in New York in 1997 where there was a session titled, "Can Apple Survive, or Should They?". It's hard to imaging that in 1997 people were already carving the headstone for Apple. But leadership from the likes of Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio who ran Apple during Jobs 12-year absence from Apple brought the company to that point. It was only after Jobs returned to Apple in late 1997 that Apple began to turn around.
Jobs killed the the OS licensing agreement with the companies making Mac clones and thinned out the entire bloated Apple product line. In 1998 Apple would show us what bodini blue looked like as they introduce us to the iMac. Eventually the bright, translucent, multi-hued plastic design found it's way into staplers and boom boxes as others copied Apple's innovative design.
That innovative design that we have all come to expect from Apple has largely come from the creative mind of Jonathan Ive, Apple's Senior VP of Industrial Design. It is because Jobs surrounded himself with people like Ives, Scott Forstall - Senior VP of iOS Software and Philip Schiller - Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing, that I believe Apple will be just fine as they face the future without Steve Jobs. New CEO Tim Cook, while not nearly the dynamic icon that Steve was, will see that Apple stays the course and continues to be the leader and innovator.
The video above shows a creative way this guy has gone about repurposing some old Apple technology to showcase some new Apple technology. I'm actually using my old Apple Lisa computer from 1983 as a case for my new iPhone 4S. It's a little bulky in my pocket, but im never going to drop that phone...
Steve Jobs was known for demanding the absolute best from his employees. But it was also that attitude and gritty determination that lead all of us to demand the best from Apple.
RIP Steve. And thanks for thinking different…