Today’s post will be slightly different than those in previous weeks. After hearing of the death of Steve Jobs, I couldn’t imagine writing about ridiculous applications that appear on devices he was responsible for bringing to life without discussing the man behind the products. Mr. Jobs is responsible for so many good things, but one question has been on my mind since I heard of his passing: what will his legacy be? Years from now, when children study this day and age, the same way we studied the Renaissance, will Steve Jobs’ name be synonymous with the great innovators of history?
Da Vinci, Edison, Tesla, Jobs. It looks funny adding Steve Jobs’ name to that list, but, look at the technologies he helped create: iPods, MacBooks, personal computers, iPhones, and iPads. There was a time once when we couldn’t bring all of our music with us. There was a time when we couldn’t browse the internet while sitting in the bathroom, and there was a time when we couldn’t carry computers around in our pockets and then make phone calls from them. Even if you weren’t an Apple fan or thought Steve Jobs was any good, you still have to admit that he was the greatest technology user of this generation.
Steve Jobs, like so many people, tried and failed. When he left Apple to run NeXT, the ultra high-end computer company, he didn’t succeed. He returned to Apple with a new vision, and we all know the story from there. I believe this is where he begins to distinguish himself as one of the great innovators of all time. One common trait amongst all of them is their ability to bounce-back after not succeeding. Think of how many devices Da Vinci thought of and attempted to put into motion, but failed at. It happened multiple times. Did he dwell on it? No. Instead he continued to press forward the same way Mr. Jobs did.
Steve Jobs was able to make technology simple for everyone. At what other time in history could 4- to 100 –year-olds simply use the same technology? With the invention and popularity of the iPod, millions could pass on music to each other effortlessly. iPads now make sharing information easier than ever while iPhones make us walking encyclopedias. At no other time in history has a movement like this happened. All of this was possible because of Mr. Jobs’ unrelenting approach to making things easy for users.
So will he be added to the lists of greats? There’s no board that decides these things, and really it comes down to what people think in their minds. Having lived in the time he was inventing, it’s difficult to imagine him as having a long term effect, but years from now, when people are taking his inventions for granted, someone will stop and think, “Wow, people didn’t always have iPads”. When my generation are adults, and we’re listening to classic rap at dinner parties (yes, Biggie Smalls will be a staple at dinner parties in 45 years, if he isn’t already), I believe Steve Jobs will be considered one of the greats. In my mind, he’s already there.