A friend of mine came to me this morning not really knowing who
Steve Jobs was or understanding the significance of his life and
work. This post is not intended to single him out, but it is the
motivation I needed to say a few words on Steve’s passing.
Like many more prominent figures than myself, including the
aforelinked Marco Arment, I never met Steve Jobs or even received
one of those famed one-line emails (though I did send him a few
over the years). But in recent years, Steve Jobs has been a looming
figure for myself, my father, and many of my closest friends.
Though I grew up in a predominantly PC/Windows household, I did
grow up with various Macs in the house as well. At various points I
had a Macintosh SE, a Macintosh IIcx, a Power Mac 5500 which I
inherited from my elementary school thanks to my dad, and,
eventually, the original iMac, which was the single most exciting
piece of technology my dad had ever brought into the house. I was
only 13 at the time, but I still vividly remember the day he
brought it home, and I still remember how magical the experience
was of taking it out of its box, connecting it to power and
Internet, and being able to just go.
Sadly, my experience with Macs began to wane towards the end of the
classic Mac OS. My focus shifted more towards Windows in my teenage
years, towards the custom-built PCs my dad had made me. Every now
and then I would play with the iMac, but it became more of a
novelty for me and less of an everyday computer.
In 2006, when I was 18 years old and after Apple had switched to
Intel, I decided that Macs might be worth another look. I
investigated them on my own this time, and not just because they
happened to be lying around the house. I saved up, and went out and
bought the first Intel Mac mini, with the (by today’s standards)
crappy Core Duo processor.
I took it home and fell in love. There was something so different
about this elegant machine’s approach to being a computer. The
design of the machine itself, the way the ports were laid out in
the back… from the very beginning it cried out to me that this was
something different. I paid less for this Mac mini than I’d spent
on my custom PC at the time, but everything about it made it feel
like it was worth more.
And then I turned it on. Those same qualities in the hardware were
reflected in the operating system (Tiger at the time). The simple,
understated wallpaper, the rounded corners, the milky white menu
bar with blue Apple logo, even down to the antialiasing on the
text. This was an operating system from people who wanted to make
it a pleasure to use. People who cared about the small details and
sweated each pixel of their design. The word choice on the dialog
boxes. The experience involved in setting up a device or printer
(often times there wasn’t one).
These are the things I will remember above Steve Jobs. These are
the things I had buried within me all along; the kind of attention
to detail that made me think I must have been crazy because nobody
else paid attention to these kinds of things. Steve Jobs taught me
with Apple that not only is it okay to sweat the little details,
it’s the best possible approach to making a truly great product. I
am so thrilled that Apple has finally ascended to the position it
deserves, in the hearts and minds of consumers around the world. It
would have been an incredible tragedy for a company that dared to
think different to have failed and faded in a world that only
rewards the lowest common denominator.
Thankfully, with Steve having been at the helm, Apple is taking
over the world. And even though he is gone, his legacy lives on.
And I don’t see Apple slowing down any time soon.
Thank you, Steve. Thank you for sweating the small stuff. Thank you
for delaying products for months or years until they were really
ready instead of shoving things out the door to make it in time for
next quarter. Thank you for being an inspiration to some of the
most wonderful, passionate people I know and follow in the tech
You will be missed, but never forgotten.
My favorite image since the news broke; Steve Jobs walks off the stage for the last time.