Remembering Steve

Yesterday, I was grumbling about information technology, but really, I love it and have had a passionate love affair with it since my early twenties. That love affair would have started sooner, but IT wasn’t readily available to the masses when I was a teen. Other than the ham radio culture and all the goodies found at Radio Shack or through Heath Kit, there was almost nothing highly technical for kids to indulge their inclinations. Thankfully, that wasn’t going to be the end of it.

When I graduated from college, I went to work for IBM, and this was about a year after they had started selling the PC. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was getting paid to play with this stuff! The only problem was the staid culture. These were the days when any man who wanted to get ahead at Big Blue did not wear anything other than a white shirt and wingtips with his suit, and most of the women were more sedate. I lost track of the number of navy suits I had. Boring as that sounds, it worked well for IBM because the key was to look sharp but not so snazzy that you drew attention to yourself. You only needed to evoke trust from the customer. Sadly, the clothing was indicative of the mindset, and with that much restraint, it’s no wonder they missed out on what’s essential to existence in the tech world — creativity.

Although I’d read about Steve Jobs for years, few inside the company took him really seriously. Everyone knew he would get somewhere, would enjoy watching it, and the company would reap the benefit, but a big threat? No. Of course this was before IBM fully realized it had shot itself in the foot with its understanding of the PC and especially of Microsoft’s role. I’ll spare you that story. Suffice to say, IBM didn’t see that one coming either.

In 1984 Steve Jobs put something in motion with Apple’s first really serious foray into the desktop computer market. The hammer was thrown, and the imagination of my generation was ensnared. It doesn’t matter that Apple had financial woes afterward and Steve stepped away from his baby for a while. Creativity and thinking outside the box were now acceptable, and IBM and all others were forced to get in the game.

None of that would have happened if Steve hadn’t been different and persistent. He really was a visionary on a scale that the reverberations of it will be felt long after IBM, MS and the others have gone away. He was his own person, and most important, he expressed it and never stopped. Even though I was in the enemy camp, I so admired that. He came with his long hair and jeans and I loved him. He said the things I wanted to hear from someone who had some power. I secretly hoped he would level the playing field, and he did! Thank you, Steve.

Steve passed away yesterday, and I never expected to be this moved, but I am and write this with tears in my eyes.

My heartfelt condolences to Steve’s family.

If you would like to share your memories of him, you may email rememberingsteve@Apple.com

edit:

For those who haven’t seen this, I bring it for your edification.