Yes, this is just one more out of literally thousands of such posts, but I think that's really the bigger picture. The outpouring of genuine emotion at the passing of Steve Jobs, a man most of those saddened by the news of his death never even knew, is the testament to his legacy. At least, he touched many lives, at most, he changed them. Either way, his innovation, intuition and drive made the world a very different place for a great many people.
The day he died, someone I know on Facebook posted that they didn't understand what the big deal was, everybody dies, the world will go on, and, he wasn't even that great of a guy, so everybody should just get over it already.
Of course in the days since, there has been a lot of "Steve Jobs was a terrible person! Stop making him look like some sort of saint!" "His accomplishments are not worth talking about because he was a jerk!" "I don't care how good he was at what he did, he didn't agree to give away half his money like these other guys, stop saying nice things about him!" and on and on, you get the idea.
Let me just speak to this a little, because apparently it's Rant Month here on Planet Josh, then I'll get on with my own story.
First, it IS a big deal that he is gone. Regardless of what you thought about him personally, his contributions to the world of publicly useable technology are undeniable. And many. Even if you don't actually use any Apple products, chances are whatever you're using instead was created in order to compete with the Apple item that came first. PC users stand-down - you do understand that the only reason you're not still forced to suffer with MS DOS is because Windows was created to make PC's more like, oh that's right, Macs... don't you?? If you didn't know that before, you do now. You're welcome.
And if you have no idea what MS DOS is? That means you're either too young or too new to personal computing to remember what it was like back in the dark days before Apple changed everything.
I'll explain that in a minute.
Basically, Apple's innovations have revolutionized the industry, not only with their own products, but the subsequent results of their competitors' efforts to keep-up with, or even improve upon them.
As for Steve Jobs the man? How easy it is for people to sit back and accuse and insult and pretend to have some sort of real knowledge or understanding when they can't possibly.
I initially had several more paragraphs of rant here, but I think I'd rather just let it be.
I will, however, leave you with this before I move on:
"Recognizing that his death marked the end of an era in the progress of civilization, countless individuals, communities, and corporations throughout the world dimmed their lights and, or, briefly turned off their electric power in his honor on the evening of the day he was laid to rest at his beautiful estate at Glenmont, New Jersey. Most realized that, even though he was far from being a flawless human being and may not have really had the avuncular personality that was so often ascribed to him by myth makers, he was an essentially good man with a powerful mission.... Driven by a superhuman desire to fulfill the promise of research and invent things to serve mankind"
That is from a biography of Thomas Edison. Who by most accounts, was a douche-canoe* of a person. Yet I don't think anyone is really going to argue that that should negate the impact or significance of his work on our world.
It shouldn't be any different in this case. You cannot choose to ignore or diminish Steve Jobs' contributions, simply because you don't think he was a "nice guy".
(*no, I don't personally think of SJ like this. But there seem to be many people out there who do. That's my point.)
OK. Now that I've got that out of the way...
When I found out, sitting at my desk using my i-Mac, that Steve Jobs had passed away, I started to cry. And I cried for quite a while. This was a bit confusing and it kind of threw me - I didn't really understand why I was so sad. But I really was.
As I read all the tweets and Facebook statuses that started to flood the internet, it was clear I was not alone in this feeling I had.
That's because Steve Jobs either directly or indirectly, has had an impact on all of our lives. Like I said, even if you don't own an Apple product, you're using competitive products that wouldn't exist if Apple hadn't started down the path first.
When I went to college back in the early-mid '80's, nobody had their own computer. Not even most of the engineering students I hung out with. Because at that time, they were still big, expensive, and not exactly user-friendly. And by that I mean, unless you were a Computer Science major, it sucked. They weren't really being made for mass use by the general public, though they were starting to show up in schools more and more. Yes, I did an entire 4 year degree without a computer. Suck-it, wimps.
In January 1984, during the Super Bowl, this happened:
It only aired once on tv, during that Super Bowl, then it was shown in theaters with movie previews.
It gave me chills then and still does. It left a pretty significant impression (and, by the way, was the first iconic Super Bowl ad, the one that started it all. Steve Jobs' innovation wasn't limited to tech gadgetry... ). At the time I was still a freshman and a computer of my own wasn't something I wanted/needed.
Seven years later when I started grad school, it was.
Well, yes and no. I knew I needed one. But I didn't really want one. As in, I'd rather have put on my bathing suit and stood in a bed of fire-ants. I had been trying to use my dad's IBM and discovered quickly how insanely annoying MS DOS was. MS DOS = Microsoft Disk Operating System. This was before Windows was created. Essentially, it was an OS that required you type "commands" to do anything and everything. And by commands, I mean this kind of nightmare:
I don't know about you, but this makes me want to go after someone with a cheese grater.
So even though I knew I needed one, I truly hated computers. If I was going to do this, I needed something that was not going to make me stabby.
Then I remembered the ad. Never underestimate the power of a really. good. ad. SEVEN YEARS later, I remembered it and got myself to Ye Olde Giant Computer Store. Wherein I requested a Mac.
I fell in love with my computer within hours of getting it home. That was 20 years ago. I've owned nothing but Macs ever since.
So the girl who hated computers and just wanted something she could use to get through grad school without becoming homicidal with kitchen implements, became a complete and utter computer fanatic. You need to understand I'm not exaggerating - you know that old "if your house was on fire and you could only go in to save one thing, what would it be?" question? Well, assuming that the boys and the pets were safe, my answer would be and always has been "my computer". Period. No hesitation.
That first one I had was an LCii, which, according to those who are more qualified to judge than I, was a terrible Mac. But that's just it - even a bad Mac was 8 million times better than the alternative.
I taught myself to type on that first Mac. See, despite my being a bit of a girly-girl back in high school, that really only held true for my appearance what with the wearing of much pink and things that involved bows or ruffles (it's ok, I might have to go throw up too). While most of my friends were taking sewing (yes, they offered this as an elective in the old days) and typing, I took Mechanical Drawing. I even had my own T-square. But despite the awesomeness of that, I made it all the way to grad school without knowing how to type. Like, at all. But my thesis needed writing and I had this great computer that I wasn't afraid to use.
I got my thesis done in a year. On that first Mac.
Steve Jobs' vision was me. I was the person who needed/wanted a personal computer but found the IBM PC and everything like it, cumbersome and aneurysm-inducing.
I really don't believe that I would have had such an affinity for the internet if it hadn't been for the Mac. And the internet has been a pretty significant part of my life for almost 20 years now.
When I was pregnant with Zach and on bed-rest for 10 weeks? It was a welcome reprieve from Jerry Springer and MTV's Road Rules. Don't ask. When Josh was showing signs of autism before we had him diagnosed? I was on it. It gave me somewhere to go, to read, learn, question, answer. There was support. And that has continued throughout the years with him.
It's kept me in touch with people I otherwise would have lost track of. I've found old friends, and made new ones.
These wonderful machines and the 'net helped inspire me to write.
These days, it's how I keep track of the world - I read all my news online, I rarely watch tv at this point. I read, explore, learn, laugh, connect, write, investigate, give/receive support, all from my beloved Mac. Currently, it's an i-Mac. Actually, has been various incarnations of the i-Mac since Apple first introduced them.
Macs I have known...
Yes, I owned a purple iMac. :)
... and I currently own one of these.
Of course there's the iPod, which has seen me through countless hours and thousands of miles on the treadmill. I'd probably weigh 750 lbs otherwise. You think I'm joking.
But the thing that makes me saddest, is that I will never be able to tell Steve Jobs personally, what a difference the iPad has made with Josh, and our family. I should have done so before he passed. So this is my regret. And I know that Toad isn't one of those kids who've made huge communication break-throughs with it, so you might be thinking, what's the big deal? You're right, he hasn't. Yet. There is always the possibility that with some more time and work, especially now that they are using one at school, that that will come. His language is progressing. It's very very slow, and most might not even see it. But it is.
So there is always the hope that the iPad will become more of an avenue for communicating some day. But that's not why it's so important or why I wish I'd written to Mr Jobs.
It's given Toadie some independence. An independence he's never had before. He's so reliant on others to do things for him and help him, that even entertainment or things to keep him focused or occupied always required someone else's involvement. Not any more. He can make what he wants to happen, happen, on the iPad, all by himself. He doesn't need me to do it for him. And because he can keep himself happy with it, we have so much more freedom to do things now that we never had before - he would have sat through an IMAX movie if the Science Center people hadn't kicked us out and now we know we can try it again if we want to. I would NEVER have attempted something like that before. He loves it, it has become an integral part of his world, and I love that he has at least some independence and the ability to keep himself happy. All I've ever wanted was for Toad to be, happy.
My little boy does not go to sleep with a toy, or a blanket, or a stuffed animal. He goes to sleep every night with his iPad held close.
Something that has that much meaning to Josh, means everything to me.
The sadness, apart from the regret at not writing to him before he passed, is because for so long, his work has been there. Part of our lives, changing the way we do things, pushing the limits of innovation - we've happily bought iPhones, iPods, iPads, Macs, or their competitors, and never really thought about a future without the constant gifts we were being given.
Suddenly, that future is now.
Thank you, Mr Jobs. Our lives are better because of you. Wherever you are, I hope you know that.