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On Steve Jobs


The tech world was shaken yesterday by the death of Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs. He was 56. Jobs has been struggling with pancreatic cancer since the mid-2000’s. He officially resigned as Apple’s CEO this past August.

The world has lost an icon. Much has been written about the man–his character, his business philosophy, his managerial style, his triumphs and failures–and much more will be written in the coming years. His official authorized biography is actually being published later this month. The impact he’s had on the computer, mobile, and entertainment industries is the stuff of legend, and as we all take some time to reflect upon the man, the enormity of his legacy becomes even more apparent.

In that spirit of reflection, Why Didn’t I Think of That?® co-host Bob Smith has asked to share a few thoughts on the man:

In many ways Steve Jobs was our generation’s Edison. He simplified complex technology and made it useful for everyday people. It’s easy to forget that it was his personal vision that shaped the PCs, laptops, music players and telephones we all use today. They’re all radically different devices now — thanks to his imagination. Hard to believe they all sprang from a company he started as a 21 year old, just 35 years ago.

As an entrepreneur, he was in a different league.

Another reason he was great:

He was a technology disrupter. His products re-shaped entire industries. The Mac revolutionized the computer industry and helped dethrone IBM. The iPod and iTunes changed the way music is heard, sold and distributed, which dethroned the powerful record companies. Finally, the iPhone made telephones do things no one ever imagined, changing the cell phone industry. In fact, in one year, Steve Jobs put more innovation into the telephone than AT&T did during a century of monopoly.

The more you think about him, the bigger he gets.

-Bob Smith, Co-Founder Why Didn’t I Think of That? LLC

During his time at Apple, Steve Jobs helped popularize and redefine the personal computer, the mp3 player, the smartphone, and the tablet computer. He even had a hand in popularizing feature-length computer-animation through Pixar, the animation studio he bought from George Lucas in 1986 for $5 million dollars, and sold to Disney twenty years later for $7.4 billion dollars.

He will, of course, be best remembered for Apple, the company he helped found. Jobs was ousted from Apple in the mid-80’s after a power struggle with then-CEO John Scully. When he returned to Apple roughly ten years later, he helped guide the near-bankrupt company back to profitability, and beyond. In Apple, he saw more than a computer company. He saw a “digital products” company, as he once explained to Wall Street Journal reporter Walter Mossberg.

A small distinction, perhaps, but it was that sort of broad, forward-looking vision that helped give birth to iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

Our thoughts are with Jobs’ family and friends, as well as the entire Apple community, who have lost a truly visionary leader. Below is video from the commencement speech Jobs gave to Stanford graduates in 2005.

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