Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011. My earliest recollections of the man are from way back in 1983.
At the time I had just moved from my native Dublin City to rural Shannon in County Clare in Ireland; to follow my chosen career in computing. I was working for a large Irish company at the time and was working professionally on a huge room-filling mainframe computer, a Honeywell Bull Level 64. My interest in computing seemed to me to be always there; I expect that it was prompted by my interest as a boy in all things science-fiction based. I loved watching Dr. Who on the beeb, reading about flying saucers and aliens, and I wanted to be a part of “the future”, a place that was then inhabited by silver-clothes wearing people, many with goldfish bowls upturned on their heads as space helmets. And Ray Guns.
Fast forward to when I was 18 and the launch of the Sinclair ZX-81 – an actual COMPUTER that people could own! Wow. A guy I knew bought one and he let me play with it for a bit. I loved it and immediately decided to change my early career to re-focus on computing. The following year, my younger brother introduced me to the new “computer club” in my former school. They used to meet on Saturday mornings, outside of school hours, and engage in the act of “programming”. I went along to see what it was all about. The computers that they had in the club were the new Apple II’s. These were replaced later with Apple LISA’s. Other notable computers at the time were the BBC computer, the Commodore’s and the IBM PC. They were very limited when compared to modern machines. Men with somewhat exotic sounding names, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, stood out in my mind as pioneers. They were challenging the standard at the time of big machines controlled by boffins and “serious” people. In business, the technology was being stifled and controlled. The advent of personal computing was seen as a threat by the “professionals” of the day. Like many people, they were afraid of change. But not I. I wanted my own computer. I admired Steve Jobs. He would deliver on that desire.
It was interesting to see how he battled on when he was ousted from Apple. How he set up the NeXT computer company. Then Pixar. His fabulous speech at Stanford university. A great human being whose brush with death a few years back helped him to re-focus and reflect, becoming simultaneously bigger and yet more humble.
At 56, he has died far too young. Though I cannot claim to have known him, I will miss him. He is an icon of our age. An achiever. Truly inspirational.