There are precious view visionaries in our lives now. Men and women who see the world differently than you and I, people who know that all it takes is one push, and the culture follows suite. Steve Jobs was one of these people.
The American dream, as we understand it, has always been to make something of yourself using what you were born with. Hard work and ingenuity brings a life of fulfillment and happiness, as well as pushing the boundaries of existence. In the early 21st century, fortunes are won and lost by bartering other people’s fortunes. Moving money around, speculating on stocks, buying and selling foreign currency, reaping the benefits of mortgages, both good and bad, have made thousands of people wealthy in this country. But as America moves closer to a service and financed-based economy, is there still room for the tinker, the inventor, the visionary?
Apple has proven that yes, there’s still room. And much like our beloved Walt Disney, Steve Jobs created not only a product, but a lifestyle and culture that will live long after we’re gone. In the coming weeks, you’ll read a lot about the similarities between Jobs and Disney, it’s no mistake that Disney crafted a relationship with Jobs and Apple years ago. The business plans and philopshies are just too in synch with one anther to be ignored. And for this, fans of Disney and Apple can be grateful. We can hope that like Disney, Jobs put in place people who will carry out his dreams and wishes to keep Apple on a path of success, while never losing sight of the fact that it all started with a mouse…
Followers of Apple’s history have heard the story of a visit to the Xerox headquarters and the discovery of a funny little device that allowed users to interact with their computer’s in a way they never could have before, the mouse. In 1983, Apple introduced the one-button ‘Lisa Mouse’ to the world, and computing never looked back. It was this single device that, in my mind, perfectly sums up Jobs vision of the future: integrating the computer into your life in such a way that it not only becomes essitnatal to your job, it becomes an extension of your body.
Much like Walt Disney, Jobs wanted to bring the user, or guest, into a world crafted to appeal to them. One that worked, almost by magic. One that always promised quality, craftsmanship and happiness. One that once you stepped inside, you’re life would never be the same. I know this sounds bombastic, but look at your life currently. The chances are high you’re reading this on a Mac, or Mac product. I’m writing this on an iMac. I’m getting emails on my iPhone. Searching for photos on my iPad. And if you’re not using the products themselves, you’re using something that was crafted and popularized by Apple: a mouse, a touch screen, a user interface that you manipulate and change to meet your needs.
In 1984, a fact whose irony was not lost on my even at the time, I first used an Apple IIe. The first all in one computer. I sat in a college classroom at the age of 14 at ‘Computer Camp,’ a week of learning BASIC, a simple computer language built on if/then commands. I honestly don’t remember what I learned, but I remember the machines, beige with green screens, it was like going to the future. And as life progessed, I had the honor and pleasure of never using a PC. In close to 20 years of graphic design and art direction, I never used an IBM PC clone. In fact, when I started, you couldn’t do desktop publishing on a PC. I started in PageMaker, moving on to Quark Xpress and now Adobe InDesign. Quark didn’t even make a PC version for years. I had to convince bosses and supervisors that purchasing a computer that frankly cost a lot more than a PC was a good investment in the long term. I bought a Blueberry iMac in 1999 to start a freelance design business. An iPod Shuffle in 2005, an iPod video in 2006, and iPhone in 2008 and an iPad earlier this year. At my current potion, in 13 years, I’ve used 5 different Mac computer models. And in that time, only two hard drive failures. Can the American car industry say that? Steve Jobs created a product that I can no longer live without. These items are integrated into virtually every aspect of my life. I work on them, play on them, share photos with them, teach things to my daughter with them. Every item I’ve created and posted on this blog…from a Mac. Other than Disney, I can think of no other consumer product I use more.
So it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Jobs. As Disney fans, we can thank him for helping to fund Pixar, the company that has set the standard for not only computer animation, but story telling, much like Walt Disney himself. Jobs’ relationship with Disney over the years has pushed both companies forward in ways no one imagined. And that legacy of both men, will continue to do so for years. I’m struck by how affected by his death I’m becoming and coming to terms that no matter how much money you have, or what accomplishments you made, everyone dies. It’s this view that reflects what great men have said since the beginning of history…it’s not what you do, it’s what you leave behind that will be remembered.
You’ll be missed sir.