My first Apple experience was a 3rd generation iPod. I rolled my eyes when I read Designed by Apple in California, and blinked when the other flap of the box said Enjoy. It was different. Usually product packaging congratulated me on my purchase. Or slyly implored me to register, suggesting I wouldn’t have a warranty if I didn’t. Or spilled out a Quick Start booklet that, again, congratulated me on my purchase. This was different.
It worked better than any piece of digital tech I’d owned since a calculator. It was almost as simple to use. But there was more to it, I’d find myself running my thumb along the wheel and wondered at just how smoothly it seemed to exist. Everything had been thought out well. Like many, I get irked when things don’t seem to work right, and that was normal. But here was something that didn’t irk me. Instead, I kept trying to dig into the decisions behind the design; it was teaching me. A few months later I had switched.
Since then, it’s been lesson after lesson in both big picture and tiny detail thinking, in integration, in synthesis, in incremental improvement and patience, in creative destruction and finding so much irritation in the status quo. So often Jobs would reveal something new, woven from seemingly disparate or even irreconcilable threads. And with that virtuosity he could put a human frame around technology by making business, design, quality and service dance to the same tune. Looking back, even his final weeks seemed planned with a graceful exit from Apple and enough time to make his goodbyes. The news even came on a Wednesday – mid week, not near the chaos of Monday or the peace of the weekend. On my iPhone, first an email then Twitter. But even before Twitter loaded, I kind of knew.
There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t work in the world, but Jobs moved multiple industries to a better place through vision and will and a brilliant light. He made that dent in our universe that he set out to, and left behind a legacy that will inspire and teach for generations to come. Lesson one: the things that don’t work in the world can be changed. Goodbye, Steve Jobs.