I was so sad to hear of Steve Jobs’ passing last night. Of course I didn’t know him at all, but his company has touched my life in many ways. My first computer was not an Apple, but in 7th grade, I took a CS class. We had a TRS-80 and two Apple IIe‘s. Mostly, we played games on them, and I remember playing Lemonade Stand on the Apple for what seemed like hours. I didn’t see another Apple or MacIntosh again until college. PCs dominated for a while in the early 80s. I acquired an IBM clone my sophomore year in college. When it collapsed my senior year, I used a friend’s MacIntosh to complete my senior thesis. I was pretty hooked by then, so when I went off to grad school, I sought out the Mac Lab. Yep, we had separate labs back then.
Throughout grad school, I was platform agnostic, and found my way around Macs, Windows machines, Solaris (unix-based), and NeXT‘s (a Steve Jobs creation). Apple was anything but platform agnostic, of course, and until Mac OS X came out, I spent my time mostly in Linux-based computers. But I’ve been a Mac person ever since. I’m typing this on my MacBook, and on my desk is an iMac. Next to me is an iPad, and up until this summer, I had a first generation iPhone.
Apple did a lot of things right, and many of the innovations they came up with are now seen across multiple platforms. It can be argued that Apple made mainstream the GUI interface we now all take for granted, as well as the touchscreen interface that has many of our kids trying to pinch regular computer screens. Apple engineered for consumers rather than for engineers. I dare say consumer electronics would not be the same without them. Without Apple, we’d be stuck with buttons and scroll wheels. And though Google is mostly associated with cloud computing, Apple’s Mac Air pretty much insisted on having things stored in the cloud.
Had he not gotten cancer, Jobs would likely have continued innovating for another 20 years. What great things will not happen because he’s gone?