As tweets rolled in and blog posts went up capturing grief and remembrance, I sat in stunned silence tonight at how touched I was by the death (and therefore life) of Steve Jobs. My husband, while stunned by the news, was surprised by how affected I was, especially considering my pension for belligerently defending Apple competitors and my mockery of Apple fanboys, both legit tech pundits awed by Apple and also just the average Apple consumer. As someone who has had to be forced to carry an iPhone, use an iPad and, just months ago finally convert to a Mac, this gave me pause. I came to three conclusions:
First, I have a job largely in part to Mr. Jobs. No, I don’t work for Apple. No, I don’t do PR for Apple. But I work in an industry that he created. Not single-handedly, most assuredly, but the direction of today’s technology was sculpted by his hand. The excellence Mr. Jobs demanded in his own products, and the products he inspired others to make, is what makes the wonderful world of technology such a fun playground. It is staggering to think of what he did in 56 years, and heartbreaking to think of what was to come. I am thankful beyond measure for those 56 years, because they literally have given me a place to play – everyday.
I visited Stratford-upon-Avon about three years ago (the birthplace of William Shakespeare). As an English lit major, this was a little bit like a pilgrimage to me. While the awe I felt as I walked through his restored little cottage was very real, what stopped me cold in my tracks was a window toward the exit inscribed with signatures from famous authors who had also visited the site over the last 200 years. Incredible literary minds had flocked to see where this man had lived – the most brilliant authors I had ever read had stood right where I stood – feeling the same awe I felt for Shakespeare’s talent and contribution. Twitter tonight was that window for Mr. Jobs. When the best and brightest, the technology canon if you will, feel the same way I do, it puts into great perspective just how amazing Mr. Jobs was.
Lastly, and possibly most important, my 20-month old son will likely wake up tomorrow asking to watch the movie Cars. He will ask several times to play “iPad,” and on the drive to daycare, he will ask repeatedly for the “hello” (my iPhone). He will watch any animated wonder that Pixar has produced, he will deftly maneuver to the video app on the iPad to watch Finding Nemo, he will (and this amazes me every time) unlock my iPhone, flip to the page with the folders, go to the one where his apps reside and play a ridiculous Duck, Duck, Moose game. Often the only things that will pacify my not-quite-two-but-still-freaking-terrible little man are a creation of Mr. Jobs. For all the tantrums that have been averted due to the iPad, iPhone and the soothing magic of Pixar, I say thank you, Steve Jobs, from the very bottom of my heart.
We will all miss you. Even without ever knowing you. Thank you.