Everything I know about Steve Jobs I learned from watching him introduce lust-worthy products in front of a majestic blue screen.
Sure, I’ve read books, articles and exposés that attempt to capture his style, personality and influence over a fickle industry of constantly changing consumer desires. But it was his many times on stage, pitching insanely great products, where his personality burst through. Even though he was becoming one of the most iconic business titans of my generation, I felt like I knew him.
I watched him introduce the first mp3 player that I didn’t want to toss against a brick wall. I’d never seen anything like the colorful new iMacs. They made my PC seen downright boring. But it wasn’t until he took the wraps off the first iPhone that I bought into his vision of how a smartphone should work. I absolutely had to have one. Nothing else would do, and the same holds true three years later.
Thanks to the iPad and Facetime, I’m able to speak with and see my mother whose recent stroke has made traveling from Utah to Washington impossible. My children enjoy modeling their new school clothes for my parents, and my son couldn’t wait to show them how he solves the Rubik’s Cube. All in front of an iPad.
It’s easy to dismiss much of what’s pitched to us in the name of better, sleeker, faster. But Jobs and his team have created devices that keep me in touch with those who mean the most to me. Of course, Apple didn’t invent every new breakthrough. But they perfected a number of fundamental technologies and made them not only approachable, but fun to use. Sure, I could email or send pictures to family before the iPhone, but I seldom did because the experience was miserable.
I will tell my kids that I watched Michael Jordan at the Delta Center. I’ll tell them about the night I looked down from the balcony and listened to Tracy Chapman strum “Talkin About A Revolution” on her black guitar.
And I’ll tell them about the man in the black turtleneck and sneakers.
Thank you, Steve Jobs.
This picture of Steve resting his head against his wife was taken last June at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. It was the first picture I’d seen where it was clear his health was deteriorating. When he’s speaking on stage, he’s so full of energy and excitement that it was easy to forget he has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2004.