He had enormous impact on my life. He had enormous impact on all our lives.
I remember the first time I ever laid my eyes on a Macintosh. A 128K. Not GB. Not even MB. K. It was 1984. The year of the novel. The year of the commercial. It was in the office of Bob Morgan, a copywriter at Garden Way, Inc. I was fascinated beyond words, and had no idea that it would be the first in a lifetime’s worth of WOWs that would be given to me by a guy named Steve Jobs.
I never got to meet Steve Jobs. But I feel like I know him. If the truth be known, I actually think of him as my friend – primarily because there is no one outside of my immediate circle of family and friends who has had a greater impact on who I am, what I have done and what I love more than him. So as I try to write this tribute, I find myself at a certain loss for words.
You see Apple (the company Steve Jobs founded, grew, was driven from, returned to in its darkest hour and proceeded to grow into the largest company in the United States and one of the most influential companies in the world) is a continuous thread running throughout my career and, to a larger extent, my entire adult life.
It was eight years from the time I saw the first Macintosh before I bought my first Macintosh – a IIsi. I used it to start a company that, although it’s not Apple by a long shot, is still in business, run by my wife Aprill, and still providing for my family.
It was on a Macintosh that I learned to be a graphic designer. Having been trained in the fundamentals of what makes good promotional design but with no freehand art skills at all, I needed a tool – a good tool – to move ideas from my head to something a little more production-oriented. Macs are the best tools. With a series of units that included a Quadra 605, PowerMac G3, iMac and Powerbook Titanium G4, I was, for 10 years, a designer by trade, working on countless logos, brochures, direct mail pieces, billboards, emails and websites.
As a musician, I’ve been a performer, vocalist and producer of four CDs, each recorded on a Mac with ProTools. My voice has been auto-tuned by a Mac, and never sounded better!
When I was in college, I moved mountains of albums and stereo equipment back and forth from home to school more times than I want to remember. If I had just had an iPod I would have had all my music in the palm of my hand. Now, it’s 9,000 songs and climbing. And many of them were purchased at the iTunes store which transformed not just consumer behavior but entire industries. (When I made my first purchase there, I said, “this is cool, but it’ll never replace the satisfaction of going into a CD/record store and just looking.” I haven’t thumbed through CDs in so many years I cannot remember the last time.)
Aprill and I traveled throughout the U.S. for 6 months in 2005 giving mission reports to churches that supported the City of Children. My presentation was loaded onto an iPod Photo. I plugged it into a projector, ran it with clicks, and then answered the question “what were you using for your slideshow?” more than I ever answered “where do the children go to school?”
I talk on an iPhone. And text and tweet, play games, send email, listen to the radio, plan worship, take pictures, read the Bible.
I read the newspaper on an iPad. And watch television and movies, read books, get the weather, plan worship, purchase plane tickets, book hotels, play my guitar and even record music. In 2010, I used an app on my iPad to lose 16 pounds and in 2011, I used it to keep it off.
Steve Jobs was the driving force behind all of it. And as he thought and innovated, he turned Apple into America’s R&D department. All of the players…from Microsoft to Google to HP and beyond…owe much of what everyone sees and uses today to Steve Jobs. So even if you don’t own one Apple product, he’s impacted your life beyond what you even realize.
But it isn’t just the function that marked his work. It is the attention to detail. It is the aesthetic of the Apple product line. It’s one thing to be innovative and transform ideas in your head into functional tools. It’s quite another to make them beautiful at the same time. Steve Jobs always strove for products that performed flawlessly and looked impeccable. He was both master technologist and accomplished artist. His products are off-the-chain tools and works of art.
Other products and platforms will continue to perform functions. But those same products and platforms do not now (nor will they ever) possess the aesthetic that Apple products have had. And the reason is that there have been few – scarce few – titans of industry who have placed as much value in and had the ability to deliver the aesthetics in product design that Steve Jobs has. When the final results are in, that may be what I will come to miss about him the most.
We won’t notice it for awhile. My guess is that the Apple products they dazzle us with in the next couple of years will at least have the thumbprint of Steve Jobs.
But in 2014, thirty years from the day I first saw that Macintosh 128K, I fear things may be different.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.” (Steve Jobs)
Thanks, my friend. It was a life well lived.