What can I say that hasn’t already been said in the last 24 hours? It’s a very sad day.
The departure from his beloved company, the impending biography, these felt like the actions of a man who knew the clock was ticking faster. Still, when I read the news—on my iPhone, incidentally—I was shocked. Even now, I’m surprised at how strongly the news has affected me. He was a once in a generation talent, an improbable mix of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and John Lennon, all neatly packaged in casual jeans and a black turtleneck. It will be many years before we see his like again, assuming we are very lucky.
Years before I finally bought an iPod, then a Macbook Pro, then an iPhone, and then an iPad, I found him fascinating, as many people do (even the people who claimed to see him for the elaborate dog and pony show he “really” was). I’ve spent many hours, too many really, trying to figure out what made him so compelling. I think it’s that he was the guy who insisted. He insisted that a computer needed to be, indeed should be, both powerful and beautiful. He insisted that there was a better phone waiting to be invented. He insisted that mice were the future, and then he insisted that they were the past. He insisted that details were important, and he made it his job to perfect them. He insisted that technology empowered people, not the other way around.
I can’t claim to have been one of the faithful. I have no stories about growing up on an Apple IIe or a Macintosh. I’m not old enough to have stuck with the company through its dark days, but I am old enough to have watched him bring that company back to life. His products have changed my life. I truly admired him, and I am sad that he is gone. He was only fifty-six. That seems like hardly any time at all, but then again, I suppose that makes his life’s work all the more impressive.
Goodbye, Steve. Thank you for changing everything. Thank you for insisting.