The passing of Steve Jobs has brought me great sadness.
I’ve always felt a strong connection to Apple. Born during the year of the Macintosh, 1984. I grew up with an Apple IIgs. I would sneak out of my room while my parents were asleep just to get a few extra hours of, Dungeon Master, my favorite game. I remember always adding “Sonja” to my band of warriors because she was pretty. My sister and I would spend hours playing Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego. We would also design and print giant banners for family birthdays and holidays. That was certainly one of my first experiences creating. I have many fond childhood memories, and for a fair portion of them our little Apple IIgs was there.
It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I learned about Steve Jobs and Apple the company. Steve had yet to come back to Apple; the company had been written off and buried a hundred times over. Yet as a 13 year old, my foolishness led me believe they’d somehow turn it all around.
No need to recap what happened next.
But, beyond the products, Steve left a lasting and unique impact on many of us.
The first iMac was incredibly cool, completely new, and compared to the anything else it seemed from the future. It was original, it was authentic.
Response from the competition was “let’s slap translucent plastic pieces on the front of our beige boxes.” Copycats! No respect for their products, no respect for their customers.
While maybe a silly example, I was an impressionable 14 year. In a very meaningful way I learned the value that I placed on authenticity and the creation of original work.
People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. -Steve Jobs, NY Times 2003
This was about the time I became really interested in design, in exactly this way. What problems is design solving? What problems is design capable of solving?
So this line of thinking has been part of my foundation for my own personal dialogue with design ever since.
There used to be saying at Apple, “Isn’t it funny? A ship that leaks from the top.” That’s what they used to say about me in my 20s. -Steve Jobs, All Things D, 2007
I interpreted this as a reference to his own short comings earlier in life. The very faults that perhaps made him so successful but also ultimately lead to him being fired from Apple.
His exile from grace, out of the limelight of Apple and to NeXT where he would keep working, reinvent himself, and define a new vision for his next great act.
For me, these last 15 years are proof, that it is possible to reinvent, to change your world, positively affect those around you. A lesson we should all remember as we face our own difficult times in life.
Looking up this quote, I realize that years ago I had misinterpreted it. Steve was referring to the leaking of product information. However, the message still stands.
I feel very fortunate to have lived when Steve lived, and to have benefitted so greatly from his passion.
Thank you, Steve, I’ll miss you.
Photo: Diana Walker, 1982