Happy Birthday Steve Jobs

Personal computing, animated movies, tablets, smartphones, music and mp3 players are some of the markets that will be thankful for Steve Jobs’ influence. Think of him or call him what you like, without him, the world of technology would be nowhere near where it is now. Today would have been his 57th birthday, but as we all know, he sadly passed away towards the end of last year.

There are a ton of skeptics who belittle his influence, and there always will be, but he will go down in history as vital to the success of many fields. Yes, we all know he took ideas from others. But that’s not all he did. He saw that others had good ideas, but weren’t executing them in a way that would make people love them. He took the idea of a having a mouse with a PC to control a graphical user interface on a computer. Others then saw it was great and followed suit. Smartphones with multi-touch, pinch-to-zoom and all the other features we take for granted on our devices were first seen on the iPhone. Sure, Android handsets were in the works, but they were BlackBerry clones until the iPhone was launched.

Almost a century ago, Henry Ford marketed the first mass produced car. The Model T Ford. Ask many Americans who invented the first automobile, and they’ll say “Henry Ford.” Truth was, he didn’t. There were motorized vehicles way before then. Sure, they didn’t look like cars, but they did the same job. The Benz 3 wheeler was made around 23 years before the Model T. Henry Ford knew how to take what was in existence, and turn it in to something anyone could use. Jobs was the same, and in 100 years we’ll still be talking about him – not Eric Schmidt or Steve Ballmer.

Steve negotiated with Disney on PIXAR’s behalf to get Toy Story made. Once a computer animated movie was seen to be a success, everyone else copied, and it transformed the way think of animation. Think of Shrek, Final Fantasy, Finding Nemo; none of them would have been in existence had SJ not made it possible. No, he didn’t have anything to do with the story/art side of Toy Story (full kudos to John Lasseter there). But, he made it happen and got the team at Pixar believing it could be done the way they wanted to do it.

iTunes, iPod, iPhones etc, each changed their industry for the better. However, the one on my mind most recently – the iPad – is the one I find most exiting. Tablet PCs have been around for a while. The only problem in the past was that they were trying to run fully fledged computer operating systems. It wasn’t working. They were too expensive, and way too fiddly to work. Steve got his team developing something that none of us thought we’d want beforehand: a tablet running the iPhone’s software. The combination of power, speed and a simple and user friendly UI meant that computing instantly became “magical.” Then what happened? Other manufacturers tried rushing theirs in to market. Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom and the Playbook. Now there are countless tablets. But until the Kindle Fire was launched last year, no one came anywhere near challenging the iPad.

iPad 3 is about to be launched. And however great it would have been to launch it today, on Jobs’ birthday, Steve wouldn’t want it that way. Instead, he’d want the team to be making sure that it was perfect and ready to go. I’m looking forward to it.

This article was initially meant to be a short note to say happy birthday to the late, great founder of Apple. I rambled a little, but hey, it’s hard to sum up the effect he’s had in a few words. No one in recent memory has had a bigger influence on the shape of technology. Happy Birthday Steve.


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