More on Steve Jobs (Update)

There are very few geniuses who actually touch all of our lives the way Steve Jobs has. Off the top my head, I can think of Thomas Edison, Alexander Bell and Einstein. But the neat thing about Steve Jobs was that he did not hide from the public. As a matter of fact, he embraced the public like no CEO did before him. When a new product was introduced, it wasn’t some gorgeous Madison Avenue model, or even that paid spokesman with the impossibly deep voice and perfect enunciation, it was Steve Jobs who took mic in hand and introduced the product. He understood his audience. He knew the best way to connect with his audience was to get up and do it himself. It worked like a charm.

G4

Briefly, I would like to touch on some of the great things that Steve Jobs helped bring to the public. First of all, let me clear the air and say that I’m not really an Apple guy. I’ve never owned an Apple computer. I’ve looked at them really, really closely but have never bought one. There are those among us, and you know the type, who have an Apple computer and will never own another computer. They love it. They don’t just sort of like it. They don’t sort of tolerate it. They love it. They love the way it functions, its reliability, the Apple community. So, in my mind, the first thing that separated Apple from the rest of field was a Macintosh computer. It was light years ahead of its competitors. It was fast. It was easy to use. It was actually practical in a time when computers were clunky and difficult to use and crashed all the time. The Macintosh was a stroke of genius.

Steve Jobs was fired from Apple Computers in 1985. The absolute stupidity and craziness of that decision became more and more evident with Apple’s decline over the next decade. Apple rehired Steve Jobs in 1996. The result of Steve Jobs being back in the driver seat was the iMac. This was followed by the G4, which was classified as a “supercomputer”. Seriously. This computer was such a game changer that it was illegal to take a G4 out of the country for several years. Finally, in 2001, the iPod came out. The iPod, too, was a game changer. Apple had broken out of the mold of catering only to geeks and nerds. Now, anybody can download music and have high quality audio anywhere they went. You just had this little wheel you needed to use. And this is the genius of Steve Jobs. I don’t think that he actually invented any new technology. I could be wrong. Instead, he took existing technology wo that his engineers could repackage it in an attractive user interface and he sold it to the public. It was the interface that was his genius. Think about the iPod for just a second. Sony really had a leg up in personal audio. They’d introduced the Walkman more than a decade earlier. Although the Walkman was a breakthrough for it’s time, it never evolved into something better. Sony completely dropped the ball. There are several other Walkman-like products and devices that were difficult to use and couldn’t really interface with your computer well. They were a pain. The iPod erased all that. A couple years later, Steve Jobs came out with the iPhone. Again, he did not invent the cellular phone. He did make a phone that was more compact. He made a phone that had more features than we could ever imagine. Most importantly, you had the easy user interface. Your grandmother can use an iPhone. That was the genius of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs was one of those geniuses who touch our lives in a personal way. If you don’t have an iPod or an iPhone then you know somebody who does. He will be sorely missed by all of us.

Update: I found this on GeekBeat.TV. It is funny and touching and true.

0 Responses

  1. I have never owned an Apple product, and probably never will.  But I agree he was a genius innovator.  I’ve read he was also something of a jerk, not admitting when he was wrong, parking in disabled parking spots.  I suppose being part genius part jerk is somewhat expected.  Beats most politicians who are just all jerk.

  2. I’ve heard the same thing. I think that one of the qualities that made him a great CEO was that he pushed his design team. He didn’t take no for an answer. There are several stories about how the iPhone came into being. There were screaming matches. He pushed suppliers. He pushed and pushed and changed the world. It is unclear if he would have been a nicer guy if he could have done what he did. 

    I admire him for what he did not how he acted.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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