Steve Jobs death last week resulted in unprecedented global outpourings of respect, sadness and admiration – millions of blogs, tweets, newspaper articles, radio and TV reports have been posted alongside many spontaneous personal messages written on post-it notes and bitten into apples left at all the Apple stores from fans across the world.
I have read, listened and watched avidly – it is without question he was a truly great man who changed the face of computing, media and the user experience. The obituaries paint a picture of an extraordinary genius, single-minded with a vision and passion unsurpassed. I, like millions of others, have been profoundly affected – his life taken away too soon by a cruel and unremitting cancer.
I was extremely fortunate to be an employee of Apple’s Advanced Research Labs back in the mid 90s when the dot.com bubble burst on the scene in Silicon Valley. Besides meeting some amazingly creative and bright people I got to work on developing the big ‘what next’. Everyday I would drive into work from my cottage in Los Altos Hills in my boat car (affectionately known as the marshmallow sofa) against the backdrop of the big Californian azure skies and never ending golden sunshine. Always smiling and with a big heart, I would enter the cavernous atrium of 1 Infinite Loop, buy a Cappuccino from the avante garde café and strive forth into the big unknown. I remember on my second day walking with my boss from our building to the cafeteria for lunch and him telling me how everyone at Apple can have 20 great new ideas a day just taking this short excursion. The secret, however, was to work out which of the many to pursue.
Steve Jobs had the killer instinct to select the right ones. As does Jonathan Ive – the brilliant British designer. He once showed me his lab of future designs for laptops. I was completely bowled over by the ingenuity and outrageousness of his ideas – of which I could never share with my friends outside of Apple because of NDA. But a few years down the line some of those concepts and prototypes became famous products and I was able to smile inwardly knowing I had seen them in their inception.
Apple will continue to be the greatest technology company in the world, leading the way forwards in quantum leaps, where others can only envy. Steve created the iWorld and his legacy will remain forever etched in modern history as “Mr iPod, iPad, iPhophet, iMerchant, iProdigy, iBoffin, iPriest.” (The Times, 7th October, 2011).