And now the frenzy begins. Running this story in reverse it’s suddenly clear why Apple didn’t introduce the iPhone 5 this week. It would have been lost in the news of Jobs’s death, killing the marketing value he would have loved. I’m sure the phone will appear in a week or two with that appearance in part to encourage the recovery of Apple shares from what is sure to be a short-term decline.
I first met Steve Jobs in the spring of 1977 when I helped the two Steves take a prototype computer out of Woz’s Fiat at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting. In the 34 years that followed I was hired and fired by Steve more than once, our relationship conducted in large part through screaming. “Sometimes I can be an asshole,” he said to me many times, and it was true, but I miss him already.
Steve Jobs was an iconic figure. Everybody knows his name. He was perceived as being personally responsible for the growth of the most valuable U.S. corporation. Steve Jobs changed the way people live by making popular everything from desktop publishing to digital music, to revolutionary smart phones and computer-animated films. He changed forever the computer, music, and film industries, doing so through the simple expedient of better design. He redefined the notion of taste in an industry dominated by engineers and a general lack of style. Steve Jobs had a billion dollar eye. No, make that a $300 billion eye.
Jobs was a 21st century combination of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Sam Walton. As an aesthete, a corporate leader, a salesman and a wrangler of geeks there was no person in American business — maybe in the world — who compared to this adopted child of Syrian extraction. Yet who actually knew him? Almost nobody.
I’ll be writing more about Jobs in the coming days, but for now here is the best public moment of insight into this man, the commencement address he gave at Stanford University in 2005.