February 24, 1955: Steve
Jobs is born in San Francisco, California. He will go on to
co-found Apple and become one of the most important figures in
the history of consumer technology (and he’s probably a big
part of why you’re reading this website right now).

Happy birthday,
Steve!



Too much to write, too little space


What can we
say about Steve Jobs that hasn’t been written hundreds, or
thousands, of times before?

His
Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, was more like your typical geek.
But as Apple CEO, Jobs’ vision of consumer technology extended
beyond something that would appeal to a select group of hacker
hobbyists into devices that virtually every person on the planet
might use.


Jobs is one
of a very small group of CEOs whose life told the story of the
personal computer’s rise to prominence. He helped oversee the
growth of personal computers from homebrew kits, of which the
Apple
1 was one of many examples, through the mass-market

Apple II, the graphical user interface and WIMP (windows,
icons, mouse pointer) interface of the Macintosh,
and on to connected web-browsing devices like the
iMac G3,
iBook and ultimately the
iPhone and iPad.


That’s
before you even get into his pioneering efforts at NeXT,
the Pixar work that made
him a billionaire, the industry-changing
iTunes Music Store and the
iPod — any one of which would have cemented the legacy of a
single entrepreneur.

Like Bill Gates, but so very different

Jobs is
often paralleled with Bill Gates, but they were very
different individuals. Gates’ relationship with computers
always seemed a means to an end. He didn’t build his own
hardware and, as Xerox PARC pioneer Alan Kay once
noted, people who care about software really need to
build their own hardware, too.

Windows was good in the way that a roomy family car was good:
It was functional and, provided it could get you from point A
to point B without crashing, made most people happy enough.

Jobs, on the other hand, was a perfectionist for whom tech was
everything. After
he died in 2011, a few opinion pieces popped up noting the
differences in charitable giving between Jobs and Gates. You
can argue about the subject all you want but, for me, it always
seemed to sum up their differing approaches: Tech made Gates
rich, and he used that to make the world a better place. For
Jobs, building good tech was, in itself, about making the world
a better place.

Jobs’ methods weren’t to everyone’s liking all the time.
Everyone who worked with him has some story, like the scene in
Jaws in which the characters compare scars, about a
withering putdown. But he cared about what he was doing, and it
showed.

The strange thing about being an “artist” rather than just a
seller of products in tech is that your products don’t have
much of a lifespan. We can enjoy a painting that’s hundreds of
years old, but try working on a computer from even 20
years ago and you’ll find parts of it unusable. Jobs
acknowledged this irony in a 1994 interview, when he was 39,
telling an interviewer that, “All the work that I have
done in my life will be obsolete by the time I am 50.”

Fortunately, he was wrong — just like he was wrong in 1985
when, depressed at turning 30, he said that no artist over that
age achieved anything of lasting significance. He wasn’t often
wrong in his predictions, but we’re glad he was on this
occasion!

It’s easy to chuckle at the level of perfectionism that caused
Jobs to (for example) demand the inside of NeXT computers be
painted black, despite the fact that nobody would ever see
them. But it’s also inarguable that so many of the
machines he exacted his perfectionist demands on still look
impressively modern today. 2000’s
Power Mac G4 Cube, we’re looking in your direction!

Happy birthday,
Steve Jobs

Jobs would’ve turned 62 today. A lot has changed about Apple
since he passed away in 2011, but the company continues to go
from strength to financial strength. Last year, the iPhone — a
product Jobs introduced, which still makes up the overwhelming
bulk of Apple’s revenue —
sold its billionth unit.

This week
Apple stock hit yet another all-time high. Meanwhile, the
company announced that the 1,000-seat theater at its new

Apple Park campus will be named the Steve Jobs Theater.

Despite fiercely
controlling the Apple narrative, and sometimes being credited
with things that rightly were team efforts, Jobs always wanted
the company to not get too hung up on asking, “What would Steve
do?” after he had gone. Judging by its financial success in the
years since he died, those lessons have been learned.

But we’ll always be sad that there will never be another “one
more thing” announcement from Steve.

What’s your favorite Steve Jobs memory? Did you get the
opportunity to meet him? What was his biggest contribution to
the tech world? Leave your comments below.




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