Yesterday, Steve Jobs — the American inventor and entrepreneur famous for his user-friendly philosophy, charisma and signature black turtlenecks — passed away. Jobs, best known for his involvement founding and leading a little start-up called Apple Computer, had been battling cancer since 2004. When Jobs died, Apple released a statement on its website. I found out, like many, through my Twitter.
Apple wrote that Steve Jobs leaves behind a “company only he could have built.” This is true. Steve Jobs’ knowledge, insight and intellectual agility were essential in shaping Apple as both a series of products and a series of philosophies. Jobs balanced form with function, creativity with practicality. He helped build machines that speak universally to our needs and our wants. Even my grandfather has an iPhone.
But it’s not enough to remember Steve Jobs as the man who made the Mac. That’s trite. It’s inaccurate, too. The iPhone and the Macbook aren’t, after all, the result of one man’s singular vision: they’re the result of great minds meeting and working together. It’s a disservice to Jobs’ collaborative spirit to suggest anything else. Furthermore, Jobs didn’t just work at Apple; his contributions to the technology industry, though best associated with Apple, far surpass his involvement there.
In 2005, Jobs delivered the commencement address at Stanford University. He spoke of his time as a college dropout; he slept on floors and took calligraphy classes instead of finishing his degree from Reed College. He spoke of the lessons he learned when he was fired as a young man from the company he had founded. He spoke of his cancer, too. “Your time is limited,” he told the graduates, “so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Steve Jobs was indeed the man who made the Mac, but insofar as Jobs embodied a determination, creative spirit, intellectual fearlessness and innate sense of foresight about the world and its people, he will be remembered as much more.
In 1984, Apple Computer bought its first television advertisement. It began with grainy black-and-white footage of a Leni-Riefenstahl-meets-George-Orwell dystopia. Nameless, anonymous extras stared blankly at their Big Brother. The camera panned to a lone figure; she let go of her hammer, smashing the screen. And in simple text dominating the screen, Apple promised us that 1984 wouldn’t be like 1984.
Apple made good on that promise, but Steve Jobs let that promise guide his career. During that Stanford address, Steve Jobs made a simple proclamation: “You’ve got to find what you love.”
May we all find what we love as passionately and perfectly as he did.
Marissa Medansky is a freshman in Morse College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.