There was a time, not too long ago, when computers were not, strictly speaking, "cool." The things that they could accomplish were cool, but computers themselves were pretty utilitarian, as reflected by their appearance. Through the company that he co-founded in his garage, Jobs made everyday technology appropriately and indisputably cool, putting the wonder into this wondrous modern tech. Starting with the bubbly stylings of the iMac and proceeding through the MacBook, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, computing became stylish and personal. Now, people commonly use the word "love" to describe their relationship to the iPhone, a product which is, in its way, a ubiquitous fashion statement.
While everyone knows Jobs from his role as the head honcho at Apple and his always-popular Macworld keynote speeches, he also served as the CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, the animation powerhouse behind beloved hits such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Up, and Monsters Inc. He was a member of the board of directors at Disney and the House of Mickey's largest individual shareholder with 7% of the overall shares.
But I digress. A friend of mine has spent a bit of time on the Apple campus in Cupertino, California, always dining at Caffe Macs, where she consistently saw Jobs eating and chatting, just like any other employee. Another friend of mine, an unrepentant technophile, sent Jobs an email immediately after his presentation at the Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference in June. Though Jobs had just finished his live presentation and was still at the event, he responded to this random consumer's question regarding Mac OS X Lion with a simple "Yep."
Pretty cool, right? At a time in which the disparity between the rich and the rest of us is more pronounced than pretty much any other time in American history, here was a man who was quantifiably and undoubtedly wealthy, yet he made himself that accessible. Perhaps this why, despite the general sense that the 99% of Americans who aren't filthy rich are getting hosed, people are so moved by Jobs death after years of fighting pancreatic cancer. There was a sense that, even though he was wealthy and a visionary, he was, in some way, one of us.
Really, there's not much to say that hasn't been said. Instead, we'll simply present this video, which has made the rounds today for obvious reasons. It's Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University, and it clearly puts the man's humanity, compassion, and insight on display.
*Full Disclosure: I own a single share of Apple stock. Yeah, that's right. One share.