I guess it’s part of getting older - seeing your heroes pass on one by one and feeling your world get a little sadder for it. Steve is dead. He’s gone the same way as George Harrison and Gary Gygax, the other public figures I’ve had this kind of reaction to. They all represent an archetype of part of my personality: George the musician, Gary the Gamer, and Steve the people-savvy geek.
As I think on what he represented, it’s not any of the normal computer geek archetypes. Was he the hardware wizard? Nope, that's the Woz. Was he the design wonk? Nope, that’s Jonathan. Was he the Software genius? Nope, that’s Avie. Steve was the Visionary, the Trickster, the Dungeon Master. He conjured up entire worlds that none of us could envision, and then sold them to us at a premium.
Much has been written about the Boomer generation, and how they have aged. Some kept to their hippy ways and are still living on organic communes. Some cut their hair, forgot the Summer of Love and went on to develop financial derivatives. Steve found his own way. He never lost the 60’s idealism, but married it with 80’s pragmatism. He showed that you could change the world in a positive way while still making a load of money.
Steve didn’t create the personal computer, MP3 Players or Cell Phones. Heck, he didn’t even personally create the Mac, iPod or iPhone. But his vision of products that could change the world and still make a buck represented the best of Boomer idealism brought down to earth in a market economy. There is no part of the tech sector that has been unaffected by products Jobs helped bring into being. Our computing world is a much friendlier place due to his remarkable ability to vision, decide, and synthesize.
Oh, and one more thing, Steve. You really were insanely great. We will miss you.
The picture above is from a t-shirt available here.
Erez Lieberman Aiden: Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words. But we at Harvard were wondering if this was really true. (Laughter) So we assembled a team of experts, spanning Harvard, MIT, The American Heritage Dictionary, The Encyclopedia Britannica and even our proud sponsors, the Google. And we cogitated about this for about four years. And we came to a startling conclusion. Ladies and gentlemen, a picture is not worth a thousand words. In fact, we found some pictures that are worth 500 billion words.