Steve Jobs; Defining a Generation

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Today Apple announced the death of founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, at the early age of 56. Jobs has been called everything from the 21st century Thomas Edison, to “that guy who dropped out of Reed.” To say Jobs is anything less than the most influential CEO of the decade, would be ignoring the fact that he brought us the most popular technology in the world: the Personal Computer, iPad, iPod and of course, the iPhone.

Need I say more about the influence of Jobs? Wondering how he’s impacted you? Read on. 

  • Do you have a computer at home? Do you use word-processing to write your English essays, Spreadsheets or databases for your stats class? How about surf the World Wide Web? These are all everyday applications of the Personal Computer, introduced by Jobs under the name of “Apple II” in 1967.
  • Do you have fond memories of watching Toy Story over and over again as child? Did you watch your mom cry at the third movie because she identifies almost too deeply with the sentimentality of the Andy-leaves-for-college-gives-toys-to-cute-child plot? If you have ever laughed at Nemo mispronouncing “anemone,” had a secret dream to be part of the Incredible family or repeated the famous Up lines, “I hid under your porch because I love you,” then you have been impacted by Steve Jobs. Buying Lucasfilms Ltd. In 1986, Jobs was a frontrunner in the transforming the business into what is today Pixar Animation Studios, which has made over 6.3 billion worldwide to date.
  • If you remember the sad days before pocket-sized music devices, then you are surely appreciative that we don’t still wear those dorky walkman head-phones and for that matter, use the term “walkman” anymore. Taking the opportunity to save the commercial music industry from illegal music downloading, Jobs made the iPod. The iPod, a gloriously compact media player, worked in tandem with Apple’s iTunes program, selling songs for 99 cents each. This invention breathed new life into the music industry and aroused the idea of purchase just one song, for a small price, in a matter of seconds.
  • Cell phones today are not only a luxury but a necessity in the modern world. More importantly, smart phones have changed our access to information, social media and essentially, the way we communicate. In 2007, Apple’s iPhone brought forth a myriad of possibilities in a wallet-sized bundle of internet, music and messaging on a pretty touch-screen. Though BlackBerry, Nokia and Motorola have tried to compete with the genius of Job’s original model, the truth is: nothing compares to the simple complexity of the original smart phone.

Perhaps the most significant contribution Steve Jobs made in his lifetime was not in the technological empire he built or the gadgets he invented, but the gift he gave our generation.  Steve Jobs was a Reed College dropout who started the base for Apple from his parent’s basement. He was a family man, an opportunist that proved to the world that invention can come from the most unlikely places. The 21st century was forever changed by his presence, and will undoubtedly be influenced by his absence. So, from the hard-working students, the Pixar-watchers and the iPhone users, the iTunes buyers and all the rest, thank you, Steve Jobs. Thank you for your keen mind and your innovative thinking, thank you for bringing us and defining us in the 21st century.

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