Since before I could even read, a man named Steve Jobs was shaping the field of consumer electronics as we knew it. It took a while for our electronics to be more than just beige boxes, but Steve was ahead of us the whole time. It was never about the flower print or the typography – it was about us. The driving vision, the engine that hummed behind Steve’s eyes and drove Apple through ups and downs, was about providing the best possible experience.
Despite allegations of tyranny, tight-lips, and astronomical expectations, it was all a remarkable display of empathy – if I were to look at a computer for the first time, how could I expect to use it? Steve had the heart to go back to the beginning over and over again, make no assumptions, and cut out the clutter to produce only the simplest, most innately understandable functional pieces of art. My nephews have been able to use the Ipad before they could talk. Steve didn’t design computers, he designed extensions of life, as natural to pick up as walking.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
But that’s not all he did.
Steve was a rebel, a round peg in a square hole. He was a dropout, a loser, a nobody for a long time. But he showed us what was possible. Not just for a company, not just for design, but for a human being. From days in his youth spent dropping into college classes to fighting cancer in the media spotlight, Steve’s life has not been easy. It could have been. He could ended his laser focused attention to detail and the user experience with the popularity of the iPod, but he kept on going. He was a showman to the very end, remaining tight-lipped and using slight of hand to distract us from the surprise.
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
-Steve Jobs to John Sculley
This time, the surprise was a sad one. I have no doubt that he knew ahead of time, and planned it like any other event. After years of asking himself “If today were the last day of my life,” I hope he had no regrets when the time came.
Steve, you have been the invisible guiding hand of consumer electronics since before I could read. You have shown us what it’s like to live a life that truly follows your dreams. You truly have changed the world.
The ones who Think Different will always remember you.
Rest in Peace, Steve.