Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank you, Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs died today. I learned of his death from a friend’s Facebook status as it appeared on the screen of my MacBook Pro. Stunned, I scrolled through status after status, each broadcasting Steve Jobs’ name along with sentiments of gratitude for his life.

Then I reached for my iPad 2, and my CNN app pop-up told me that Steve Jobs had died and asked me if I wanted to learn more. I did, for my future – a future without innovative products that have been born in the mind of Steve Jobs – had arrived. Just to be certain, I typed into my browser. When the homepage loaded, I cried.

I cried. About Steve Jobs’ death. But why?

Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc., have been synonymous for me. I trust the products I rely on for work and personal enjoyment because I trust – make that trusted – Steve Jobs. Maybe I trusted Steve Jobs because I had discovered that I could trust the products he envisioned and then brought to life.

In the 90s, when savvy business minds were predicting that the company Jobs’ had co-founded would crumble because he was no longer at the helm, I somehow believed that simply could not happen. I believed he had created a product that – even though it enjoyed a small market share at the time – was the creative lifeblood of industries that millions relied on for entertainment and design pleasure.

Therefore, Apple couldn’t die. The movie industry, the design industry, the advertising industry, even school teachers loved what could happen because of what Apple made possible.

But Jobs, a human and not a company, could die. I knew he had been fighting pancreatic cancer for years and had mentally prepared for his death long ago, soothing myself with thoughts that Apple, Inc., was greater than one person’s life. Even Steve Jobs' life. I had reassured myself that the company (and it is just a company) would survive long after his passing. But I had not calculated how much gratitude I would feel for Steve Jobs – gratitude for all the ways the fruit of his labors have enriched my life.

I have a lot to be grateful for.

- For the 1985 Macintosh computer that arrived in the journalism lab just in time for my senior year of college. I got to step into desktop publishing from a typesetting foundation that matched Jobs’ love of typography.
- For the Apple IIE and the resumes and cover letters I created on it. They led to a job I loved so much it became a career.
- For the Apple PowerMac that powered my fledging freelance career and for the fleet of them that my husband, Mark, turned into a fully integrated multimedia lab for a small college with big dreams.
- For the Apple magic that allowed Mark to build a digital radio station and a digital television station while supporting print, web and photography applications. He had the privilege of living what he loved. Steve Jobs did too.
- For Pixar. "Toy Story" is the first movie my youngest son can remember. It remains his favorite. The Pixar legacy is the cinematic record of his childhood. If I ever doubted that, "Toy Story 3" clearly cemented the fact when I began bawling as Andy left for college.
- For the iPod incentive that coaxed my youngest to sell more magazines than others in his class so he could own one of the first iPods in town. He learned what it felt like to set a goal then enjoy the reward of achieving it. And he taught the rest of us to want an iPod of our own.
- For the MacBookPro that made it possible for me to get an online masters degree.
- For the iPad my son bought with his confirmation money.
- For the iPad 2 (bought with my birthday money) that taught me to hope again because its intuitive interface let me know that I still have a capacity to learn and even apply what I learn within a few clicks.
- For things like iPhoto and iMovie and Flip cameras that allow me to capture the very best moments of our family’s lives and then turn them into gifts for other members of our family.
- Finally, for the iPod Touch and PowerBook that have made it possible for my oldest son, born with intellectual and physical disabilities, to point and click his way into connections with a world that exists outside his limitations. When he learned of your death tonight, he took out his iPod and read about your family. He wanted to know if you were married and had children. He wanted to know who was most sad tonight because you had died.

He gets it.

Steve Jobs. My life is richer because you lived your passion and dared to bring what you were able to envision to life. You anticipated ways to improve people’s lives, and then introduced those ways to us before we even knew we needed them.

I think that is why I cried. While you were alive, I felt reassured that I wouldn’t miss out on incredible ways to encounter my future. Now I won’t know what I am missing because you are no longer here.

Thank you, Steve Jobs. Well done. May you rest in peace.

Added: Oct. 6, 2011 - 3:25 (CT)

I just have to add Mark's tribute to Steve Jobs. What a wonderful image. Since this multimedia lab was first built in 1994-95, countless college students have engaged in an enhanced educational experience because of what Steve Jobs helped Apple do for education. They carried that home with them and then, literally, across the world. What a privilege to have been part of it.


c h a s e said...

This is wonderful, Joy! Thank you so much for sharing. My love for Apple began at Waldorf. I'm hooked for life.

Joy said...

Awww ... I am glad.

Kara Berhow said...

I agree with Chase! (Hooked!) The first time I really dove into the world of Apple was at Waldorf. The brand now is a very important part of my life. I work and play from my iPhone,create on my Macbook, and make a living using many of the ideas brought to life by Jobs.

Beautiful piece.

Joy said...

You both are helping me realize how culpable we have been as brand fanatics, simply by providing access to Apple at times when people are finding their places in the world.

Think of all the platforms Apple has provided for communication and all the ways the world has become connected through their products. Pretty amazing.

I continue to be so proud of you both.

Ginny Ray said...

Really, Joy? Did you really need to make me tear up at work?
I found out the same way you did - through Facebook status'. I am genuinely sad. I usually don't give a crap when celebrities die (in the nicest way possible), but this, ugh, this hurts.
Like Chase and Kara, I was fully introduced to Apple at Waldorf. And my life forever changed :-) (Waukee Schools had Macs as long as I can remember, but I never got it, until college.)
"On January 24th Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984."

Joy said...

:-) So glad you came to campus and we got to learn and grow together.

Steve Thompson said...

Right on Joy. You said what we all feel. Check this out.

Also my response to it on Fb.

You are right, Kristen! He was excoriated for not agreeing to license the the op. system. But in the long run it paid off in spades! Great personal tidbit. I was standing in a ridiculously long security line in Logan in November of 2001 and talking to the man behind me. He turned out to be the man in charge of worldwide marketing for Apple. He told me he had a device in his pocket that in less than a year's time would change the world. He then showed me the prototype of an IPod. And I secretly thought he was a nutjob to make such a claim. I kept asking him what the big deal was! That was the genius of Jobs. As Garfield stated, he knew what we wanted before we knew what we wanted!

Joy said...

Thanks for the post, Steve. What a wonderful opportunity for you in that airport. I bet you couldn't even understand what you were seeing. And such truth behind the statement: "He knew what we wanted before we knew what we wanted."

What a gift to see things the world needs and then make it happen. I think, sometimes, we all believe we have that capacity but then fear to follow it or are too lazy to follow it or too distracted.

Jobs is an excellent example of living out a vocational call.

Joy said...

And doesn't it seem fitting - somehow - that he died in the fall, the season of the apple harvest?

Josh Damm said...

Great post. I just read the entry on my iPhone in Vegas. This morning I heard Eric Qualman - the author of Socialnomics - speak about social media and I can't help but believe that Steve Jobs had a huge impact on this revolution through his innovative products. Qualman gave the keynote address at this automotive conference and wore jeans and a black shirt in honor of Jobs.

Thanks for the wonderful blog post!

Now back to browsing the web on my iPhone as my iPad sits nearby.


Joy said...

Hey, Josh! Thanks.
An iPhone is something I've yet to acquire. I agree with you and Qualman. Social media is nothing without the ability to actual be social.
Happy Vegas and happy browsing.