A visionary has passed, and unarguably left the world better for his presence. Last night, Apple’s Board of Directors announced that Steve Jobs had died at the age of 56. “Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve. His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts,” it added.
Tribute to a visionary
On Apple’s main page, the company paid tribute to its founder with the following:
“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”
According to the Associated Press, Jobs’ family issued its own statement after his death:
"Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family. In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve's illness; a website will be provided for those who wish to offer tributes and memories.
“We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief."
Microsoft’s former chief executive officer, Bill Gates, also had kind words for his “competitor, colleague and friend,” adding that “the world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it has been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely,” he said.
US president Barack Obama, in paying his respects, summed up Job’s contribution particularly succinctly. “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it,” he said.
Jobs is the quintessential rebel success story. He rejected college education to pursue his own ingenuity, starting what has become the world’s largest technology company in his parent’s garage in 1976. From this venture would be born the Apple Macintosh personal computer. But perhaps the greatest sign of his visionary nature is that he was not content to change the world technologically just once. He did it again (with the iPod). And again (with the iPhone). And again (with the iPad).
Perhaps the world’s biggest loss in this is how he may have changed it further, what groundbreaking inventions he may have come up with had he lived longer. Sadly though, we will not know. Jobs had been battling a rare form of pancreatic cancer since 2004, which ultimately resulted in him stepping down as CEO of Apple last August.
One more thing
Along with his inventions, and the impact they have had on the industry and world at large, Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford in 2005 best explains his view on death and life.
"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new."
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
Though Steve Jobs is gone, his contributions will live on.
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