The news of Steve Jobs’ death has affected me in a way that I don’t think I can fully explain or understand. I found out about his death while reading bloomberg.com on my iPad 2, and my body went into a state of semi-shock. The last time I remember feeling the way I felt was several years ago when I heard the news that my grandmother had just passed away.
I felt instantly sad, my heart rate lowered but I could feel adrenaline flowing through my blood at the same time. I felt sad, slightly surprised and also as if I had been informed that one of the most important people I personally know had died.
Steve Jobs was a great American. He embodied what it means to be an American success, with his struggles and his triumphs all laid out in front of us to see and ingest. He was personally inspiring. There have been many days in my life where I have been feeling down, and then re-watched the speech he gave at Stanford during a graduation ceremony.
I think my generation just lost the equivalent of an older generation’s John F. Kennedy, somebody who embodied hope and vision, defined the present and represented a promise for the future. I can think of no one who has had such a direct impact on my daily life, who put the Internet in my pocket, who made me enjoy the music industry again, and who made me believe that the impossible is, in fact, very possible.
I can vividly remember watching Star Trek growing up, and Captain Picard would communicate with an alien by saying the words, “On screen,” and communicate with an alien via video link.
“That’s impossible,” I said to myself. “That will never happen.”
And then, just like that, I watched in amazement as Apple’s Facetime became a thing of normalcy.
Steve Jobs revolutionized the movie business, too, and half of us didn’t even know at the time that he was the man behind Pixar, literally saving the company and bringing us an endless string of unforgettable films. Classics from Toy Story to Shrek have the Steve Jobs stamp on them and captured imaginations the world over.
I don’t know what you call that stamp. Maybe you call it leadership. Maybe you call it being a visionary. Or maybe you just call it crazy. But not a lot of people have it. In fact, only great people have it, and all of us want that magical quality.
Steve Jobs is in the select company of Americans who have changed the world for the better. Men like Walt Disney and Thomas Edison, who relentlessly pursued greatness—not a ruthless greatness, a make-the-world-a-more-magical-and-interesting-place greatness.
I’m still processing the death of Steve Jobs. It will take time. And I will miss him very much.