by Eric Pettifor
Dear Mr. Jobs:
I write to you on the occasion of your death to congratulate you on making a difference. As more of a technology visionary and businessman than a true geek (that was your erstwhile partner Steve Wozniak, or “Woz”), you may not recall that this was the concern of a dying James Tiberius Kirk at the end of the movie Star Trek: Generations. Granted, you never saved the planet by travelling in time to rescue whales or anything like that (at least, you left no public record of such feats), but, way back when, you knew a good thing when Woz showed it to you.
Some might say that you were the mercenary and Woz was the real techno-saint, but left to his own devices would Woz have formed a company to sell the Apple I back in 1976 or sought venture capital to expand and sell the Apple II in 1977? Or would he have been content to hand out his genius for free at the local computer club? If the latter, I might never have had an Apple IIe. That was a sweet little machine back in the day — thanks to the both of you Steves for that.
You also knew better than Xerox what they had when you visited their research facility in 1979 and saw what they were doing with graphical environments, and that curious pointing device, the mouse. You took these ideas, ran with them, and had Bill Gates playing catch up until 1995 (and yes, your devoted fans might say that Windows never caught up to the Mac).
When you were edged out of your own company in 1985, you simply went on to found another computer company, NeXT Inc. There you made the uber-elite NeXT computer — no compromises, including on price. Your target market was institutions that could afford it, including CERN in Switzerland where Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first web server and browser on one. Eventually an ailing Apple would buy your company and get an OS that would allow them to catch up to, and arguably pass, Windows, and also get you back as the CEO.
Once back, you didn’t stay in the PC comfort zone. No, you could see the future, and the future was in people’s pockets. Along came the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. You left Apple in such good shape that the day after the announcement of your death, Apple’s share price didn’t change much at all. Such was the confidence of the market.
Personally, I’m not so sure. Your personal stamp is all over Apple. It is so much the product of your vision. I don’t see how Apple can be Apple without you. And Apple has been without you. What happened is a matter of historical record.
But don’t let that worry you. Assuming that there is an afterlife, move on to your next project. Or better still, take a break for a lifetime or two. You packed enough into this one that you deserve it.