Bye, Steve

From the Apple front page, 10/5/2011

Apple has announced that Steve Jobs, their former CEO and the man who took Steve Wozniak’s hobbyist idea and helped usher in the era of the home computer, has died from his pancreatic cancer.  He was 56 years old.

I like to think that Radio Shack had something to do with the age of the hobbyist computer; the TRS-80 Model I was the one that I saw the most of, and its programs were pretty damned good.  But Steve was the friend of the Woz, was pulled by Wozniak to attend meetings of the old Homebrew Computer Club in the San Francisco Bay area, and saw the potential for a handful of chips that could do wild things.  He found the venture capital, got an actual case designed for the thing, and had the vision to push Apple Computer to its first great era. Long after Radio Shack had left the computer field, Apple carried on, and does to this day.

The company and he had friction at times, such as when he came up with the idea for the Apple Lisa — an edgewise predecessor to the Macintosh, though Wikipedia says it is really not that direct.  Still, it must be said by all that Apple always ran best with Jobs at the helm.  He had the ability to come up with ideas that would sell; sometimes it might take a chunk of work to get there, but forth from Apple during his time poured the Macintosh and the i-line of products, and in poured the money as a result.  And, when nothing else seemed to work, Jobs could always turn on the famous Reality Distortion Field, and either convince or bamboozle all around him into belief and herculean feats of effort to make that idea work.

Not confining himself to computers, he entered the graphics and entertainment field, buying up the company that would eventually become Pixar Animation Studios and, essentially, saved the bacon of Walt Disney Animation with Toy Story, A Bug’s Life et al.  At his death, according to Wikipedia, Jobs held a seat on the Disney board and 7% of Disney stock, stemming from Pixar’s eventual sale to Disney.

Some of his business skills and interpersonal methods can be criticized, but nobody can deny his vision.  He will be missed.

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