The news flashed on Tweetdeck while I keyed away on my 2006 black 13″ MacBook and my iPhone 3GS pumping out Explosions in the Sky, that the visionary who helped bring out my life’s greatest purchases, Steve Jobs died. I can’t begin to understand the complexity of what that really means for myself and others in the long run. Perhaps it means nothing and life will just continue, but there’s a legacy of what he’s worked on, and how it propelled and continues to propel a generation or two to dream.
I’ve never met him. The closest I ever got was having some editorial about Giant Robot on the Apple site years back. I administered a Q and A with a Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa at the Apple store in SF. I visited Genius Bars in multiple cities. I was never even near him, yet his death affects myself and I’ve sure many of us personally.
My life with Apple started off like many of us. It was an Apple II+ in perhaps in 1981. I was 12. I think I was in sixth grade. My family saw a future for me that included computers. I thought it would be cool more than anything. I didn’t know what it was capable of or what it could mean, later. I was just a kid with a great new toy that kicked my Atari 2600′s ass. People would walk by and see the computer through the window and point at it. It was a spectacle and a symbol of a changing time. The Mac came out after a few more iterations of the Apple IIs and it changed my life. Then as the next iteration of Apple product debuted, it changed my life again. Then again and again. It never ends. It’s not like that with other products and tools. I’ve lived through two cars and am driving only my third, but it’s safe to say the make and model has yet to change my life. A Model T from 1900 vs a car in 2011, it’s nearly the same. Apple computers aren’t like that. Each model opens a new door of possibilities.
I’ll admit I’ve strayed. I tried a PC, a Blackberry, and a Handspring Visor. Eventually each of them led back to an Apple product. It was one and done each time.
I’ve gone so far as to hoard Apples. I once had 3 of the first colorful iMacs and three following. Then there were multiple beige towers with numbers like 7200, 8500, and so forth, three different G4s including the Cube. From yard sales I have two early Mac laptops that were $3 each. Four iPods, four iPhones, an iPad, and a Mac Clone. With all this, I worked on Giant Robot and many side projects for the last 17 years. It’s a lot, but really, that’s all. There’s perhaps another few hundred million folks out there who do things with Apples too. Then there’s a bunch who just enjoy it’s comforts.
My mother walks into GR2 where I’m sitting and typing this and said, “Steve Jobs died, I’m so sad. This is so terrible.” Then walks out. She too is a Mac user. Although technology isn’t for everyone, it is generational. My mother grew up typing on a manual typewriter and used an abacus. She’s three iMacs in now and Steve Jobs matters.
We’ll continue to use Apple products and after a long time, many will forget about the magic of Steve Jobs. It’ll happen. Yet Steve Jobs legacy is the brand, the lives it changes, the innovations it creates, and the great art it makes. He won’t be hard to find and his touch will always be around.