One of the greatest American innovators, creators, and industrialists who ever lived has died. Memory eternal (he typed on his MacBook Air). Open thread below. Tell us what you think of him.
We’re big, big Jobs fans in this house — how can we not be, given the ubiquity of Apple products in our apartment, and their importance in our lives? — and used to pray for him from time to time when he was sick. As a writer and media producer and consumer, it’s hard to think of a contemporary figure who has had more practical impact on the way I live my daily life than Jobs. Nora, who is about to turn five, just said to me, “Daddy, Steve Jobs never knew Aunt Ruthie. He’ll know her in heaven now.”
Again I say: May his memory be eternal.
Steve Jobs, who sparked a revolution in the technology industry and then presided over it as Silicon Valley’s radiant Sun King, died Wednesday. The incandescent center of a tech universe around which all the other planets revolved, Jobs had a genius for stylish design and a boyish sense of what was “cool.” He was 56 when he died, ahead of his time to the very end.
For me, Steve Jobs didn’t just make the way I live and work better; Steve Jobs made it possible.
UPDATE.2: From TMatt, a link to Jobs’s 2005 commencement address, in which he talked about living and dying (he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year earlier). Excerpt:
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.
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.
UPDATE.3: OK, one more sentimental thing from me, then I’m turning in for the night. It occurred to me just now that socialism just doesn’t produce a Steve Jobs. I thought of a friend of mine from France, a brilliant young computer scientist who worked in the computer industry in his native country, but felt stymied at every turn. When he would be getting somewhere on a project, it would be time to shut the office, under the law. His company had someone who went around forcing everyone to clear out at quitting time; if they didn’t, the government could impose fines on the company. So he’d have to put his work down and go home, no matter what. And the culture in France, he told me, strongly discouraged innovation and getting ahead. It was a common thing for people to report their neighbors to the tax authorities if the neighbor had a nice new car, or showed any outward sign that he was making more money. The air of suspicion and distrust was demoralizing, especially for my friend, who is upbeat, optimistic, and generous to everyone he meets. My friend got his company to transfer him to the US, and he eventually made his way to Silicon Valley, his personal land of dreams. In a short time, he founded his own company, and is now doing very, very well for himself. That happened in America, where Steve Jobs was born. I think that means something.
UPDATE.4: I lied. One more thing tonight, from a homily recently delivered by Deacon Greg Kandra (sent to me by Erin Manning):
Since this is Respect Life Sunday, and the beginning of Respect Life month, I wanted to talk about one woman who did respect life – and her choice has made a difference in the life of virtually every person in this church.
Her name is Joanne Schiebel. In 1954, she was a young unmarried college student who discovered that she was pregnant. In the 1950s, her options were limited. She could have had an abortion – but the procedure was both dangerous and illegal. She could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and didn’t want to interrupt her education. Joanne opted, instead, to give birth to the baby and put it up for adoption.
And so it was that in 1955, a California couple named Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a baby boy, born out of wedlock, that they named Steven.
We know him today…as Steve Jobs.