It’s interesting to see the internet all abuzz about a CEO. I mean, in the popular mindset these days, we aren’t supposed to like CEO’s and yet everyone is talking about the passing of Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple. My partner, who is a total Machead, is pretty shaken about the news.
But let’s face it, the guy didn’t just change business as much as he made an impact on culture and lifestyle. He made computing something a simpleton like me could understand. Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal notes the contradiction:
It is a strange thing to mourn the death of the chairman of one the most profitable companies in the world. But we do.
Steve Jobs believed in more for everyone: more money for him and his shareholders, more power through personal technology for the people. He was the white wizard in the black turtleneck holding the forces of decline at bay. Apple enjoyed one of the greatest runs in the history of industry right into and through the teeth of the worst economic times since the Great Depression. Steve Jobs was hope backed by manufacturing and an empowering outlook on life, a child of the grooviness and bigthink of the 1970s married to the drive of the 1980s.
So, as Occupy Wall Streeters and Tea Partiers cry in outrage that the American system is crumbling under corporate influence, many sympathetic to their causes pause and note the passing of a businessman.
Jobs created objects of prestige that induced envy because they could change your everyday life. But then, like Henry Ford before him, Jobs quickly pushed those objects down the socioeconomic pyramid. What was once only for the rich would be for everyone. Just wait. The great forces of technology and industry were working to make it so! It is appropriate that a version of his defining invention, the iPhone, will be free (with a contract) soon.
I remember when I was in college back in the 1980s and early 90s. I would sometimes borrow my friend’s PC which seemed impossible to understand. I remember having to ask my friend to make the computer print my paper because I had no idea how in the world to do that on this monstrosity. And then during my Senior year in college, someone set up a Mac Classic in a classroom. I was amazed at how easy it was to use this computer. I could type papers with ease and I could do it myself.
Steve Jobs was able to bring computers and technology down from the from the mountain of geekdom and packaged it in a form that was easy to understand. I think my love of blogging, web design and desktop publishing would have never happened had it not been for that Mac Classic that sat in a classroom at Michigan State University in 1990.
So thanks, Mr. Jobs.