Apple co-founder and Chairman Steve Jobs died two days ago at the age of 56. Jobs, a legend in US technological history, and a culture hero for many of his generation and indeed, subsequent generations, was involved in the technology industry for 35 years. In that time, he turned three separate industries on their heads and reinvented a fourth. Personal computing, with the launch of the Apple II in 1977, legal digital music recordings, with the iPod and iTunes in the early 2000s, mobile phones with the 2007 debut of the iPhone and the iPad, invented in 2010, a touch-screen tablet computer, Jobs’ vision for a more personal computing device.
These revolutionary inventions have transformed the way the entire world thinks and communicates and the way it speaks, listens and searches for the truth. If we struggle for a comparison, perhaps Thomas Alva Edison comes to mind. But it’s a reach. But much more is needed to be said to do justice to this extraordinary inventor.
We can turn to Steve Jobs himself. Jobs perfectly forged his own image – brilliant, brash and an outsider, a dreamer and visionary and someone who was crazy enough to think he could change the world— and at the same time crafted his own epitaph with the “Think Different” Apple advertising campaign. It debuted September 28, 1997; just days after Jobs again became the top man at Apple. The campaign asserted:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Steve Jobs thought differently. He strove to create “insanely great” products for what he called “mere mortals.” He was indeed crazy enough to think he could change the world—and he did. But he was not immortal, and he knew it. In a Stanford commencement address in 2005 following a 2004 bout with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, Jobs may also have been making predictions about his own mortality.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered…Because almost everything-all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure-these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important,” Jobs said at the time. Jobs stepped down as chief executive at Apple in late August, citing his inability to “meet my duties and expectations” stemming from his illness.
Jobs told his employees in August, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”
Upon learning of his friends death, Bill Gates said, “I’m truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’ death…Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.”
Apple stores around the world are witnessing scores of tributes to Jobs—they are covered with Post-Its and decorated with memorial wreaths crafted by customers who revered Jobs and mourn his death. A popular theme for the memorials is “Dream Different.” Jobs leaves behind his wife, four children, two sisters, and 49,000 Apple employees in the United States and countless around the world, especially in Asia.