Let’s be real: there aren’t a lot of people out there whom you could truly call a “visionary.” Steve Jobs was absolutely one such person, a man who invented and innovated at first, then poked and prodded others in his employ to think along the lines he did and therewith create lines of products which were frequently NOTHING like anything else available in the marketplace.
My first contact with Jobs and his technology was the Lisa, a forerunner of the Macintosh line of computers. I remember doing a number of drawings with its MacDraw software, which I learned not be reading a manual but by spending a day or so experimenting at the computer itself. In that process, I simultaneously had my first exposure to a computing environment which would later become known as “Windows,” manipulated with a small device known as a “mouse.” It was easy, facile, and [one of my favorite descriptive phrases] “intuitively obvious.” You didn’t have to be a computer geek or know anything about the operating system to be able to use THIS computer easily. Yeah, Jobs got his operating system from Xerox, and the mouse can trace its history back to the Stanford Research Institute in 1963, but it was Jobs who took the concept and made it an integral part of computing.
And he didn’t stop there. There were the multiple incarnations of the “Mac” computer which followed the Lisa, the iPod and the iTunes site to support it, the revolutionary iPhone, which radicalized mobile phone technology, and most recently the iPad. All of these devices bore the clean, minimalist design which is the trademark of all Apple products. Perhaps the greatest compliment to Jobs and his innovations is how much his products have been imitated. In multiple technological venues, Jobs was ahead of the curve. He set the tone.
Steve Jobs’ creative genius made him a billionaire, but he remained mortal. Pancreatic cancer plays no favorites, a fact reflected in his aging face over the past few years. Still, it was clear that even the C-entity could not blunt his drive, his desire to push the envelope in creating new and better and more forward-thinking technology.
Yet now he is gone … and I am wondering where the next visionary of his stripe will come from.