There will be much said in the coming days from technology industry people far more articulate than me, with valuable insights and first-hand experience, regarding the passing of “Steve”. I’ll be interested in what they have to say, as it will be better than me. And since I’ve been using the products since the Apple-II and the Lisa, I’ll be eager to read them. But for tonight:
Someone once mentioned to me that Seattle was the only place they’d ever been where prestigious (and rich) business leaders were casually referred to by their first names, by people who had never worked with them. “Steve”, “Bill”, and “Paul”.
I had to agree with their observation. And add this: “Larry” in the Valley will never be as recognizable as “Steve”, and that habit started before “Bill”. I know this, because I went to high school in the Valley, with Apple employee #17 (yes, he was in high school too at the time, and he would give me a ride from school to Apple, and I’d walk home from there). I’ve been keenly aware of Woz and Steve since then.
I didn’t even like him, but I admired him. And followed him.
Andy Grove was and is a great leader, and I kneel at the feet of Gordon Moore whom I had the honor of “working with” (I’m exaggerating my role) more than once. But Steve, well, Steve I could relate to. He wasn’t like me, but I thought maybe I was like him.
Dropped out of Reed College, check. Cultivated geeks more capable than himself, check. Started a company working the Net 30 financing method, check. Embraced UNIX before most knew what it was, check. Curious about everything and anything, check.
After that, it gets pretty different. Billions of dollars different, but other things too, many of which offend me still, decisions he made and people he screwed. I hope, not what I would have done, given his resources. And of course, he has awesome design (and I have none).
But I can’t deny it. He was not just figuratively, but literally, an inspiration. Thank you.