October 6, 2011
Steve Jobs, the man behind Apple, passed away just as his company unveiled the new iPhone 4S at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Users skeptically studied the new device, critics competed to see who could find the most faults with it, and the company’s shares plummeted. These were Steve Jobs’ last hours on this earth.
“The world is immeasurably better because of Steve,” Apple’s board said in a statement issued upon his death.
The bad news spread quickly, popping up on the screens of millions of smartphones and tablets. Not everyone believed the announcement immediately, as Jobs has been reported dead or dying before. He had a disease that was “incompatible with life,” and it is a miracle that that skeleton of a man, dressed uniformly in a black turtleneck and blue jeans, could hold out for so long. Despite his condition, he was the brains, the soul and the face of Apple.
“Death is very likely the single best invention of life,” the designer of the iPod, iPhone and iPad said six years ago in his commencement address at Stanford University. It was his last public speech, and he took it much deeper than could typically be expected of a techie presenting his “revolutionary products.”
Jobs’ bequest to the iGenerationJobs’ address within the walls of that elite university in essence became his bequest to the next generation. “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,” the tech guru said.
The public opinion of Jobs varied dramatically. Some said that he transformed the computer industry, the way we look at gadgets, and indeed ourselves, who have grown accustomed to leafing through pages on our touchscreens. He knew how to fulfill our dreams before we had even put them into words, creating devices that thousands of people lined up for on the day of their release.
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” Jobs said. His successor at Apple, Tim Cook, called Jobs “a visionary and creative genius.”
Jobs once said that the Apple designers create their products for themselves and don’t concern themselves about what group of people will use their Macs or iPhones. “We do no market research. We don’t hire consultants,” he said. “We figure out what we want.” He has a portfolio of over 300 patents that range from screens to mice.
But perhaps his passion for his work and his ability to always be at the very crest were even more important than his talent as a designer. In fact, the path of the world’s most influential businessman was not an easy one.
The founder of Apple was expelled from his company in 1985 after losing an office battle to Apple CEO John Sculley. His departure caused a 68% crash in Apple’s stock. Jobs later said that he was so dispirited at the time that he thought of leaving Silicon Valley forever, but his love for his job proved to be even stronger. He founded a new computer company, NeXT, which was bought by Apple ten years later. Steve again became Apple’s chief, leading the victorious advance of his company across the world.
“Your time is limited”Jobs’ death stirred up a storm within social networks. He was a man who kept to himself, disclosing neither the plans and the designs of his company, nor his personal problems.
The news that Jobs had cancer was first reported in 2003 by U.S. media outlets, which cited Apple sources. Prominent politicians and top managers in the United States are expected to tell people about their health problems and diagnoses. Jobs hid the truth, perhaps in the interest of his business, or maybe because he simply hated to do so and saw no connection between his personal affairs and his business.
Steve was a courageous man battling a deadly disease. He wanted no sympathy because he himself harbored none for the weak, at least not in his company, which he left on August 24 amid worldwide Applemania, when it was revealed that Apple had more cash than the U.S. Treasury and the iPad became the world’s bestselling tablet.
Messages on Twitter and personal blogs posted last night read “ThankYouSteve” and “iHeaven.” Everyone expressed their sympathy, from President Barack Obama, who said, “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators,” to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who thanked Steve “for being a mentor and a friend.”
I’m sure that on October 14, when the iPhone 4S goes on sale, we will see long lines of Apple and Steve Jobs fans in New York. This will be the ninth day since Jobs’ death, the day when, according to Orthodox Christians, God commands the angels to bring him the soul of the deceased. But Jobs was a Buddhist who believed that the path of the Buddha is open to everyone, and that life is only a moment.
“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,” said Steve Jobs, who died at 56.
In his own “moment,” spanning just half a century, he managed to accomplish much more than most.