I was heading for bed when news started to break on Twitter, at 12:34am UK time, Apple announced on Businesswire that former CEO Steve Jobs had died and later on Apple’s own website. I am writing this on my eighth Mac at 1:15am UK time and it still doesn’t feel real.
Steve Jobs as an icon has been a part of my life since childhood. The Mac was launched whilst I was in school and the story of the two Steve’s making a computer company at home was an American fairy tale. I used a Mac to get my CV typed up at a local accounting firm and bought the first Mac that I owned to proof flyer artwork for the warehouse parties that I used to run.
Whilst at college Steve Jobs appeared in my favoured reading materials of a then young Wired magazine and Robert X. Cringely’s Accidental Empires. He cut an imperfect character but one who was moving things forward; an embodiment of the Japanese principle of wabi sabi. He was the topic of discussions I used to have with my then tutor Neil Keegan whilst I studied modules on innovation as part of my degree course. During my final year in college reading about Jobs and reading Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance seemed to go hand in hand.
Being a Mac owner then was very different to now, I knew only three people who used a Mac in college; one of whom I’d encouraged to pick up a Mac. Now going down the Starbucks by our offices you see a sea of silver lids with the iconic Apple logo – due to Steve Jobs reinvigorating the Mac.
After finishing my final year, I remember coming home from work and watching the theatre of the iMac launch on the evening news. Since then for the past decade I have watched Apple keynotes online for the theatre that Steve Jobs brought to the product launches. It had such a grip on my imagination that when I first visited Silicon Valley, my friend Heather drove me out to the anonymous looking Apple campus in Cupertino – to be honest if you are expecting Disney-like magic it isn’t in the buildings.
The anti-climax of that pilgrimage brought home to me the uphill battle that Steve Jobs must have conquered against compromise and inertia. Now, whilst the man has left us, I know that the idea of Steve Jobs won’t die.