Steve Jobs died today. I found out while I was on the bus as I came home from work.
He was a technology pioneer to be sure. Certainly one of the most effective CEOs to come around since the title was invented. Through his leadership a stream of amazing and beautiful devices were released to the public, turning Apple from a company on the verge of bankruptcy to one of the most profitable in the United States. From his early work on the Apple I to the wildly successful iPhone 4, he revolutionized the daily life of billions of people around the world.
I felt a strong feeling of loss when I heard that he had died. It came from the untimely departure of a man who I had never met, but nevertheless saw fit to draw personal inspiration from.
Why was I drawn to Steve Jobs? It was his idea that all details matter, even down to the individual pixel. It was the notion that even the intangible minutiae will impact our perception of an object, like the exact radius of a corner or the amount of friction on a piece of glass. It was the mandate that you aren’t finished until you pour a piece of your soul into your creation.
So many of my own greatest accomplishments have been done using tools that once existed only in his mind. Steve Jobs made me want to be a better creator, and a better person.
Before I heard the news I had spent the afternoon working through a book on Objective-C, the programming language used in the creation of Mac, iPhone, and iPad applications. I got an itch to do some OS X programming the night before, but I needed a refresher on the syntax of the language to get going again. In hindsight, I can think of no better tribute to the man than spending the day becoming a better programmer, honing my skills to one day create something insanely great.
While I was on the bus I downloaded his Stanford Commencement address and listened to it again with new perspective. One passage struck me in particular:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.- Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement, 2005
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Thanks Steve.
Above Image: My first computer, an Apple //c. I am pretty sure that Steve didn’t have a hand in how it looked.
Full text of the Stanford Commencement:
Read stories on the creation of the Macintosh:
Andy Ihnatko’s remembrance:
Walt Mossberg’s remembrance: