Hardy anyone knew this kid back in-the-day. “Steve who?” people would have said. No one knew the man he would someday become. The visionary, the mover, the shaker. He’s an inventor, a manufacturer, a retailer and compared to those who came before him — he is the best of them all. Always the target of skeptics and constant criticism, and always the one who had the last laugh.
I wrote those words just a few weeks ago in preparation for a blog about Steve Jobs. Little did I know what was soon ahead.
You no doubt heard the news last week about the Apple founder who was treated for pancreatic cancer in 2004 followed by a liver transplant two years ago. In January of this year Jobs took a leave of absence from his duties at Apple to concentrate on his failing health. Last Thursday he announced in a brief resignation letter to the Board of Directors and the Apple Community: “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.”
Unfortunate indeed. I grew up with Steve throughout my adult life beginning in the summer of 1976 when I saw that first Apple computer. I remember lusting for an Apple II with Visicalc software while staring at one through a Bend, Oregon store window in the early 80’s. Later, while in the computer retail business, I sold Apple IIc’s and then the Macintosh was introduced along with that classic 1984 television commercial on the Super Bowl. I would sell one of the first Macintosh Computers ever sold in Seattle. Admittedly I had little faith in that first Mac and that dumb thing called a “mouse” along with its graphical user interface. Boy was I wrong! Since then I’ve become a huge admirer of Steve Jobs and everything Apple.
I’m writing this blog on my Apple PowerBook G4 laptop. After having been a long-time Windows PC user for more than 20 years I’ve never looked back since that transition to Apple eight years ago. Not even a glance! I’ve read several books about Jobs as I have on Bill Gates. I have followed their careers closely since they were — just like me — young men. Both are known as difficult taskmasters, demanding and showing down-right tyrannical behavior toward those they work with. But you can’t argue with what they’ve created. Jobs I think — even more so than Gates — has changed the world as we once knew it. His designs and obsession for perfection are legendary. His accomplishments and the toys he’s created are far too many to list here. CNBC’s Mad Money host Jim Cramer said it well when speaking of Steve Jobs earlier this year:
This guy’s the greatest manufacturer of our time, he’s Henry Ford. He’s the greatest inventor of our time, he’s Thomas Alva Edison. What people don’t realize, he’s also the greatest retailer of our time, he’s Sam Walton.
Amazing but all true.
I really hope I’m wrong but I fear Steve won’t be with us too much longer and I wonder how Apple will weather his absence and lack of leadership. One thing is certain, it will never, ever be the same — this world or that company — without Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011