Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, October 06, 2011

On the Passing of Steve Jobs

Like a lot of folks last night, I was shocked and saddened when I read about the loss of Steve Jobs.  Jobs, who founded Apple Computers in his parents' garage, went on to become one of the first true IT billionaires, and pretty much shaped the way we view and use technology, dead at the age of 56.  The cause of his death hasn't been publicized yet, but he'd been battling pancreatic cancer for the past seven years.

I saw lots of folks online saying, "Thanks for my iPhone, iPad, etc," and suchforth.   Wanting to be a little different, I posted this:

"Let's not forget his biggest contribution to movies.  Back in 1986, he bought ILM's computer animation R&D lab and turned into Pixar."

Yup.  That's true.  Because of that, he has an executive producer credit on Toy Story.  When Disney and Pixar merged 5 years ago, he became Disney's biggest shareholder.  I highly recommend you check out a documentary called The Pixar Story, which is all about the history of Pixar.  It was released on disc 2 of the 2-disc special edition of WALL-E, so it's easy to come by.  Jobs is interviewed quite a bit in it, and I'll never forget something he said in that documentary.  Even though Toy Story was a massive hit, Jobs wasn't too excited about it.  Said Jobs about his lack of enthusiasm....

"Yeah, but see, I invented the Apple II, which was considered the best success in the history of home computers.  And I followed that up with the Apple III, which is still considered one of the biggest disasters in home computers.  So I wasn't going to get excited until our second success.  That's when I'd be confident that we were on to something." 

As I was lying in bed last night, thinking about all those "Thanks for my iPad" posts, I started thinking about the little ways in which he changed computing.

The year was 1998.  I was still in college, and hanging out with a lot of computer science majors.  Jobs had just made his triumphant return to Apple, and the first product under his renewed leadership was just announced:  the iMac.  Chilling out in the dorms one night, I overheard my computer science friends picking apart the iMac's specs....

"I don't believe it."


"It's got nothing but USB ports."

"You can't be serious."

"I am!  Look.  No printer port, no serial port...just USB ports!"

"Who the fuck uses USB ports?"

"You can't get anything that plugs in with USB ports!  Why would he come up with a computer that you can't plug anything into?" 

Here we are now, 13 years later, and how is your keyboard plugged in to your computer?  That's right, Jobs pretty much made USB ports the industry standard. 

It might finally be time to seek out the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley.  I've always wanted to see it.  An HBO original movie, it chronicled and compared the rises to power of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.  ER's Noah Wyle played Jobs.  Jobs was so impressed with Wyle's performance that he actually got Wyle to impersonate him at one of those famous Apple product launches to see if anyone would notice the difference.  Anyway, the film opens with Jobs (as played by Wyle) speaking directly into the camera, laying out his personal philosophies and what he wants to accomplish with computers.

The camera angle changes and we that Jobs is actually talking to legendary film director Ridley Scott as they're about to film Apple's legendary 1984 commercial, and he's telling Scott the vision he wants to get across in this commercial.


That spot, by the way, pretty much accredited with creating the modern-day concept of the Super Bowl ad.

So, yeah.  We lost a man who truly changed the world yesterday.  

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