My first experience with a Mac, if memory serves right, dates back to circa '94 or '95. At the time, I was in junior high doing extra-curricular activities and one of them was (a fairly easy) introduction to computer sciences. In practice, we gathered in a room with computers and learned to work graphics, text processing, that sort of stuff. I vaguely remember this goofy, blue or green skinned character, I think it was a mascot for the software suite we were using, can't remember the name (if anyone knows what I'm talking about, let me know on the comments :D ). And this stuff was being done on a Mac. I remember the experience felt weird, having a mouse with only one button and the way the OS worked seemed rather off, considering I had a PC at home and was more accustomed to using Windows 3.1x.
Throughout the years, I saw news of Apple's products, but never really gave them much credit: they felt like cop-outs that traded in-depth OS experience for user friendliness. That's actually a bold statement, considering I mostly use Windows (but have a nice VM operating Ubuntu, mind you!), but this isn't about OS merit.
Then, 3 years ago, came the iPhone 3GS and... well, if you've ever read my blog, you know how excited I was. Then I got the iPad. And I openly admit that they are some very pretty pieces of work, if not downright sexy.
These were products that were based on a rather unique perspective. The perspective of Steve Jobs. If I recall correctly from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs had an intuitive feeling on user experience, opposite of Gates' engineering approach.
Now, I'm not here to put Steve Jobs on a pedestal, I really am not. For the most part and from my perspective, I didn't like the way his company treated users, mesmerizing customers with simplicity and fancy design, only to adopt a rather proprietary (again, from my perspective) approach to software development (namely, apps). But like it or not, Steve Jobs and Apple have changed the landscape of technology forever. The innovation of their products was, for the most part, highly discussed and, at some points (such as the recent presentation of the iPhone 4S), somewhat questionable. But the fact remains that where many others tried to innovate and fail, Apple succeeded beyond anyone's dreams and expectations and raised the bar for future developers, of hardware and software alike. And while a company is in no way, shape or form, carried on by one single man, I do believe that his vision is what defined the way in which Apple evolved. As he once jokingly stated, Apple was like a ship with a hole at the bottom, leaking water. His job was to point it in the right direction. And that he did.
Personally, while he was far from being an idol to me, today marked the passing of a source of inspiration. I am truly and genuinely saddened. One only has to listen to his 2005 Stanford commencement speech to realize that this guy had gone through a lot and came out victor in the end. Maybe not in the race against cancer, but he sure as hell came out a victor in his own merit, in what he contributed for the evolution of technology in this world. Even the simplest things of his black sweater or his choice of footwear are a source of inspiration, a sort of break-out from the status quo. I admit that this is one of the things that always catches my eyes in corporate people.
Beyond what I might think of your company, beyond what I might feel in regards to your company's business practices, beyond any discussion of iOS vs Android, I will always cherish and respect the character of Steve Jobs, for the life lessons he taught us, for the way he saw technology and for the source of inspiration that he was for young entrepreneurs (as I aim to be).
I hope to still learn from you as the years go by. As you said in 2005, we can't connect the dots looking forward, but they will make real sense when looking backwards. Maybe one day we will reach the conclusion that your life will be a common dot that many of us in the technology sector will share. I will be looking forward to that day.
Rest in Peace, Mr Steve Jobs.