The only thing I’m going to say about Steve Jobs

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Published 2011-10-06

I’m a loooong time Apple fanboy — I have never owned another kind of computer, since my first Mac LC in 1991, and the first computers I ever used were Apple IIs about a decade earlier — and I have a kind of “King is Dead, Long Live the King” mentality about Jobs’ death. I can’t say anything that someone hasn’t already said.

Jobs is getting a lot of kudos — rightly — for his billions-busting products of the last five years. the iThings, iPod, iPad, iPhone etc. Some commentators remember that he founded NeXT and Pixar and brought Apple back from the brink in the late 90s. And a few long-memory commentators mention the Macintosh, or maybe the Lisa as revolutionizing computer use. They mostly seem to think of “revolutionizing” in the business-y sense of super-tweaking: point-and-click UIs instead of command-line UIs, or animated movies with better characters than special effects.

He’s being remembered right now mostly as this sort of über-gadgeteer or businessguy (iCEO, etc.), which is all well and good. But he didn’t just change the game, he invented the game. Of course he was gonna be good at it.

So I want to add my voice to the tiny chorus pointing out that Jobs started the truly personal computer revolution in 1976 with the Apple I, followed a year later by the Apple II. I mean “personal” here in the literal sense: computers for persons.

Before Jobs (and Woz), “computers” were enormous scary boxes in universities and banks and military bases tended by high priests. Now there are dozens of them in my freaking car. I have one in my hip pocket that is fast replacing almost every other gadget I own; it has enough processing power to win every war America ever fought. I use it mostly to send pictures of my kids to their grandparents.

I wonder if Steve Jobs imagined that taking pictures of kids would one day be more important — certainly more profitable, and more society-changing — than winning every war America ever fought.