Yesterday, Steve Jobs resigned as the CEO of Apple. This wasn’t really a surprise, because Steve has been sick for some time. Nonetheless, it was a shock to me, and judging by Twitter, to many other people.
My history with computing goes back to the Apple II. The first computer that I ever wrote a program on was an Apple II, and an Apple II was the first computer I ever owned. It was in the days when nobody really knew if a personal computer was a practical notion at all. It’s easy to look at the myriad forms of “personal computers” that we use today, and forget that. Before I became interested in computers, I was going through serious interests or hobbies at the rate of one a year. I locked onto computers with a passion, one that was undivided until I took up photography several years ago. Apple, more than any other company, inspired me about computing – what computers might do for people, how they should work. I imbibed the Apple philosophy – I “bled six colors”.
It was one of my childhood dreams to work at Apple, and I was fortunate to work on the Newton for two years. I was at Apple when Apple bought NeXT, and when Steve took over the company from the inside. When the Newton team had meetings with Steve (before he cancelled the project), I was amazed at how much sense he was making. The respect I had developed from afar turned into respect developed from actual experience. I felt that if anyone could fix Apple’s woes, Steve was the one to do it. I just didn’t believe that anyone was going to be able to do it, so I left. How glad I am that I was wrong.
For me, Apple has always been more than just a company that makes great products (because in those dark days, some of the products were quite bad). Apple has been the embodiment of a particular vision of how computers should be, and Steve Jobs was the person that drove that vision and inspired many in my generation to get interested in computing. No company or person can be perfect, and both Apple and Steve Jobs have easily identifiable flaws, but the vision that Apple represents has driven dramatic improvements in computing since 1977.
Thank you Steve for being the torch bearer, and for the impact that you’ve had on my life, and on the world.