Friday, October 7, 2011

In Memoriam

We all knew Steve Jobs' health couldn't have been good when he stepped down as CEO. But I was still shocked by news of his death - I had assumed he had on the order of six months left, not six weeks. I've never seen such a reaction to a celebrity death on my social networks. If nothing else, the man has been well-memorialized all over the web; here is a collection of my favorites. I've included my own story as just another user/fangirl after.

  • I think The Onion summarizes the situation better than any real news outlet.

  • A user on the MacRumors forums, which I frequent, set up a touching collection of IRL memorials at Apple stores around the world. And from a link there, check out these Lego-built memorials.

  • I greatly enjoyed this remembrance from Michael C. Malone, author of the Apple history Infinite Loop.

  • As the wife of a mathematician, I was interested to read about Stephen Wolfram's relationship with Jobs - did you know that Steve Jobs named Mathematica?

  • Possibly the best memorial possible - just take a few minutes to step back into the Reality Distortion Field by watching the opening to the iPhone keynote. The RDF at its finest - when it's not really much of a distortion at all, not that anyone realized that until after the fact. Of course, there's also the iPad keynote, but I have to admit it really doesn't display his showmanship quite as well.

I'm an Apple fangirl going way back - before the iPad or iPhone, before the iPod, before OS X if you believe such a time existed. In high school, I made fun of my boyfriend for using a Mac (running System 7 at the time). In September 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple and I started college. And there, he made me eat my words.

Though my personal computer was a Linux box, I was using Macs at all my on-campus jobs, whether I was doing graphic design or working with data as a research assistant or just chilling at my dorm's front desk waiting for someone to need a key. I came to love OS 9 for a lot of little reasons, from windowshading to the separation of the menu bar from the windows. I was jealous of my friends who could afford an adorable fruity iMac or iBook.

I finally bought myself my first Mac as a self-graduation present - an eMac in 2002. OS X was quite new, and I actually spent the first several months booted into 9 because, I admit, I was resistant to change. (It didn't help that my very favorite Mac app, PageMaker, never made the transition - and no, InDesign isn't the same.) Soon I became an Apple rumor junkie, catching all the keynotes and frequenting the rumor sites. There were two products I wanted desperately for Apple to make: a post-Newton PDA and a touchscreen Mac. For years, I eagerly ate up any indication that either one was on the way; I had no idea that Steve was holding out til he could deliver both to me in one device.

We currently have, lurking around somewhere: two nearly-dead eMacs (I keep meaning to coax them to life one last time to pull out stupidly-un-backed-up data), a Mini, a PowerBook G4, a MacBook Air, an iPod shuffle, and of course my iPad 2. The legacy of Steve Jobs is sprinkled all over my house, but I think it is most evident in the device I'm currently propping on my knee, typing one-handed on a virtual keyboard as my baby falls back to sleep.

One more thing - nearly the only movies I've seen in the theater in the past decade, in these days of $10 tickets, are the Harry Potter series and every movie released by Pixar. Let's not forget that not Apple isn't the only major corporation that Steve Jobs revitalized. There have been many comparisons made to Walt Disney in the past two days, and I find it odd every time these come without acknowledgement that the former rescued the latter's dream from the hands of far less creative people.

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