A Thought on Steve Jobs

7 10 2011

On Wednesday night the world lost one of its greatest visionaries, innovators, and advocates of the unknown with the passing of Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple. He was truly a titan in the world of technology, and that is what everyone knows him for. He introduced the world to a user-friendly personal computer in the 1980s, and after being ousted from Apple, returned in 1997 to bring the company from the brink of death into its greatest – and his greatest – period of accomplishment, innovation, and design. He introduced the iMac, and then convinced the world of having digital music in your pocket with the iPod. As a result of the iPod, he began to revolutionize the music industry and how we buy music with the iTunes music store. Then came the MacBook Air, the iPhone, and finally the iPad. And while these were great achievements and milestones in technology design and popular culture, I write today to recognize not his success with Apple, but his slightly quieter, yet equally impressive and important achievements in the entertainment industry.

While his tenure with Apple is his claim to fame, he pushed boundaries in a quieter and less public manner at the pioneer animation studio Pixar. He believed in what then-former Disney animator John Lasseter had in mind; revolutionary computer generated animation and a feature length CG film. He funded and headed Pixar, pushing Lasseter and his team of animators to new heights and ever-better ideas. Eventually Jobs, Lasseter and the team at Pixar convinced Disney of a feature length CG film based on a young boy’s toys. Yes, Jobs was involved in the movie that sparked the popularization of computer generated animation in the feature format.

Toy Story was a hit, as we all know, and the rest, as they say, is history. A Bugs Life was next in a long line of Disney/Pixar partnerships for films. This culminated in Disney buying Pixar, which made Jobs the largest private shareholder in the Walt Disney Company.

Steve has since become a bit of an icon in the world of Disney in an unexpected if not odd way; he is seen by some as a true contemporary of Walt’s. He pushed people to create things they weren’t sure they could, and in the process revolutionized not only animation and entertainment, but also the technology behind it. Maybe even less recognized is the impact his Apple developments have had on how we consume the very content he pushed others to create, which is nothing short of historic and profound. If not for the insistence of Steve, we might not yet have arrived at the idea of carrying around a digital copy of a movie on our iPod, iPad, or laptop, at least, with the blessing of the studios.

Indeed, his impact on the entertainment industry is deep and multifaceted, and will be felt for many years to come. So today we have not just lost a technology titan, but also an entertainment titan; someone who many saw as a contemporary of Walt Disney, and in the same company as Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, and even Jim Henson. The world today is already a little less fantastical without him, and we eagerly await to see who the next great visionary will be that steps up to fill a pair of shoes that are quite large.

Oh, and one more thing…”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Have a great weekend everyone, and enjoy the Halloween events at the parks!