Where were you and what were you doing when you learned that Steve Jobs died? For people who either work in tech or have a great personal interest in it, this is probably on the same level as hearing of the passing of JFK, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, or Ninoy Aquino. As odd as it may sound, it hit you on the same personal level.
It’s unexplainable – he was just a tech CEO. If Larry Ellison of Oracle were to drop dead, it would only be a footnote, but this was majorly different.
Like millions of people around the world today, I learned of the passing of Steve Jobs through Twitter that morning, which nowadays breaks news across the globe faster than CNN.
My reaction was muted. Chette was checking her tweets and told me just as I was on the way out to walk the dog, as I do every morning. “Steve Jobs just died.”
I remember thinking the most mundane thing, like “Well at least he waited till after the iPhone 4S announcement.” I knew the news was of enormous import, but it had not yet sunk in.
While out, I stopped a bit to check my Twitter feed on my phone – not an iPhone mind you, but a Motorola Android phone. “RIP Steve Jobs” was the number one trending topic. The feed was as expected, every tweet was a tribute. (Later traffic reports indicated something like 18% of all Twitter traffic was Steve Jobs-related).
Then I got an unexpected call. It was David Nye, the former Channel 9 newscaster who now runs a morning news show on DZRJ AM. He was looking for someone he could interview On Air about Steve Jobs’ passing. I was crossing Paseo de Roxas and could barely hear him but I agreed to answer a few questions and give my thoughts. So while walking through the Ayala Triangle park trailing a Lhasa Apso, I finally got a chance to articulate what Steve Jobs meant to me and to technology, product design, and the world in general.
I hope I did OK. I talked a bit about Jobs as an innovator not just for the computer and technology fans, but also an icon of product design. I talked about his rare talent for making technology personal, for creating a situation where people not enjoyed only their Apple products, they were madly in love with them and don’t stop talking about how great they are. They aren’t called Apple fanboys for nothing.
I was also asked about Jobs’ influence before the age of the iPhone and iPad and even the Mac, but all the way back to the introduction of the Apple II in the late 70’s. For millions, the Apple II was their friendly introduction to personal computing. I learned to program by typing in lines of code of Applesoft Basic from magazines like Byte and Nibble. My first job was as a programmer of accounting systems – that ran on Apple IIs. If not for this computer my life would be completely different today.
Lastly I was asked about Apple’s future without Jobs. I think the culture of excellence created by Jobs will continue and Apple is in good hands. As to where it will go, the future is clearly in mobile devices and other tools that will characterize what Jobs called the “Post PC era”. And Apple will continue to lead and innovate. And Apple fanboys will continue to be rabid.
And then having said all that, after David Nye thanked me for the interview and I hung up, a strange thing happened. My eyes got watery and I shed a couple of tears.
It’s the damndest thing, but I swear it’s all true.