Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP, Steve

Steve. Bill. Larry. If you're about my age, and in the "computer" business, you know who these people are. They're iconic. These three, more than anyone, created the on-line, desktop, hiptop, and palmtop world in which we live. They led the rest of us into a connected world. A world where we're instantly available to our friends and they to us, changing the way we stay in touch. A world where information flows almost effortlessly to wherever we are, changing the nature of discussion and debate, art and science. A world where governments can't hide their oppression, news can't be controlled by those who own the presses,  people can't be told there's no hope for a better life.

Oh, they mostly didn't invent the technologies, or write the software, or build the prototypes. And there's other names we all recognize.  You might also know about Linus, and Scott. Probably Marc (the guy with the browser, not the guy they made a movie about). The Woz, of course. Others whose full names we know, but with whom we're not on a first-name basis.

But Steve, Bill, and Larry--they're different. Once they invented their first thing, they took that and used it to build huge companies that became engines of invention. They drove those companies to excellence, each in its own way, with the distinct characteristics of its leader. Bill taught us how to take software to market. Larry taught us to take complex things and make them simple and so reliable that they disappear into the woodwork.

Steve taught us to change the way we think.

Steve Jobs drove the fledgling microcomputer industry to consider graphics as important as crunching numbers and writing memos. He brought windows and mice out of the lab and gave us the desktop. He drove his team to build computers that were a delight to use; that weren't "computers" for their own sake, but rather, were tools for getting things done. They talked to each other effortlessly; they worked right out of the box. With those tools and others his team built, he made movies where imagination ruled over reality, and when the technology was ready, he gave us tools for carrying our entertainment with us, and for connecting with our friends and family, and then for bringing the world wide information web to our laps.

It was an insanely great run, Steve. We wish you were here to see the next thing, and perhaps to help us to imagine it, and then to build it.

We'll miss you.

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