When Steve Jobs resigned, a lot of us still had hopes that it was temporary. We hoped maybe he would recover and, maybe even a short time later, come back to Apple energized and ready to share some more magic.
Of course, this was wishful thinking. It seems now that Steve understood his fate and stepped down in August to spend time with his family and to help prepare Apple to stand alone.
As a jaded cynic born in the 80s, I never had many heroes. Those I did have were technologists: Elon Musk, K. Eric Drexler, John Carmack.
I discovered Apple pretty late. I never owned an Apple II. My only experiences with Apple products were on the underpowered school computers and the silly technicolor clamshell Macs in my high school computer science class. At that time I felt like Macs were underpowered, with a UI like a toy computer. Besides, I played video games and the only proper operating system for a gamer was Windows 98 or Windows XP.
In my senior year of college all this changed. A few close friends of mine were switching to Apple. I was able to try out their machines and they explained what they liked about them. I was impressed with the build quality and attention to detail. I wasn’t much of a gamer any more, so the underpowered graphics weren’t much of a concern. In my programming classes I had come to respect the power of UNIX-like systems, and I was impressed that OS X was built on BSD.
My laptop was due for an upgrade, so in a short time I went from having no Apple products to being an iPod touch carrying Macbook user.
As a gadget geek, I had owned Windows Mobile and Palm devices in the past. I even relied on an ancient Windows Mobile PDA for my Chinese dictionary. Of course, I had played around with its browser and mail client in the past, but they were such a pain to use that I eventually disabled them all in order to increase the performance of the dictionary. Mobile devices seemed like toys, fun to try out but too irritating to actually be useful day-to-day.
As I saw the iPhone blossom and experienced the increasing utility of the iPod touch, my skepticism about the value of mobile computing disappeared.
Soon enough, I was working to convert my friends and family to Macs and iPhones, not only for their own experience but also to make it easier for me to provide (or not have to provide) technical support.
I started checking Apple news sites daily, subscribing to Apple podcasts, and envisioning a career where Apple products are a central focus.
In that short space of three years, Steve Jobs became a hero to me. An exemplar of a true visionary: a man who, seeing in his mind a world which doesn’t exist, through his actions brought his vision closer to reality.
We’ve lost a great man, an inspiring man. He brought us a long way. Let’s all try to go farther.