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missafantastico's avatar

Why is the passing of Steve Jobs so important?

Asked by missafantastico (685points) October 6th, 2011

I do not negate the contributions that Steve Jobs has made as a businessman and an inovator, but why is his death so significant?

Was this much press devoted to the death of Henry Ford?

Is it due to the nature of his passing, by Pancreatic Cancer? The fact that he was only 56? Or is it something else?

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47 Answers

marinelife's avatar

The inventions that Jobs made and the ways that he put together technology touched everyone’s life on the planet.

We compute the way we do because of Steve Jobs.

Judi's avatar

His death is not what is so significant, it is HIS LIFE. His amazing life has come to an end, and, as he tried to tell those Stanford graduates, it reminds us that life is short. Don’t waste it.
That’s what makes his passing worthy of attention. An amazing man, keenly aware of his own mortality, went out of his way to remind us to make the most of this life and revel in it. We should listen.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, the media of today is nothing like the media from the times of Henry Ford’s passing. Henry Ford certainly was amazing for much more than a model T. If you ever go to his museum, the engineering, not only cars, but many other inventions he was a part of was amazing. Of course he was also accused of being anti-labor and helped publish a newspaper that was antisemitic and nazi sympathizing. How much coverage was given to ford? I would assume all the newspapers picked it up, radio, etc.

I hope this does not sound like I am speaking ill of the dead, but there were some things that bothered me about Steve Jobs and Apple. I do think he had an amazing mind and obviously was creative and a great businessman. At the same time, I accuse him of crossing the line, being too greedy. Making money is fine, but Apple purposefully makes items that do not work with other computers, they overprice products in my opinion, especially when they are first launching it. I just get a little ick when I think about how companies, and I mean any company, not just Apple, can make a really nice profit, but chooses to make extreme profits and leave a lot of people unable to use their products because they are so expensive. Or, like the deal with At&T, why lock their customer into only one cell carrier? I guess I am a little touchy on the topic. Right now someone very close to me is working on who they will be laying off at their company. When I said to them that I had no idea his company was in trouble, his reply was, “it’s not, but the board wants us to be more profitable than we are.”

Aethelflaed's avatar

Well, Steve Jobs has cult-like “fanboys/girls” where Ford did not. And, Jobs used himself as the face of the company quite a lot in an era where everyone could take notice. When Ford was the head of the company, most “everyday folk” weren’t going to really take notice, weren’t going to know about his backstory, weren’t going to know much about him. But Steve Jobs would do things like personally answer Apple’s email, so he became big and part of our culture right alongside the iPod and MacBook.

I don’t think Ford had much media coverage because media was so different. But today, it costs me the same to read one blog as it does to read a thousand, and having lots of articles is good for most blogs, so every blogger (and we have a huge blogosphere corps) is like “oh, I should have an article about Steve Jobs dying”, whereas in Ford’s day, people wouldn’t have paid to read it in 10 newspapers when 10 newspapers cost 10 times what reading it in 1 newspaper did. And newspaper’s had to consider the limited resources of a newspaper (do they really want to use up all that space on Ford dying? No, they do not).

Qingu's avatar

I think Edison is a slightly better example than Ford. (Though they knew each other well)

And yes, the press was obsessed about him in life and in death. Hell Congress presented Edison with the Congressional Gold Medal.

mazingerz88's avatar

In 2000, I wanted a computer device that was not a laptop. It took him 9 years but it was worth it. His devices are more than just gadgets. They’re a joy to behold and utilize. And it’s something else too. I think the word is COOL.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@mazingerz88 Yeah, but that’s not why Steve Jobs is big, that’s why his products are big. Cars were a joy to behold and utilize and cool long before the iPad came out, but Ford isn’t so big.

mazingerz88's avatar

Well, I can’t speak for everybody but Steve Jobs was all about products, great products. I think he knew it was never about anything about him.

I was a bit surprised @JLeslie mentioned about greed. Steve Jobs was a businessman who sold great products for expensive prices. I think he used most of that money to expand and innovate his business. If anything, it’s the Woz who is the kind of man who would give everything away cheaply and even for free.

But doing that would not help you survive in the business world. You need to be aggressive and be a visionary and tenacious.

Qingu's avatar

I will reserve judgment until it’s clear there is no posthumous donation going on but… Jobs gave nothing to charity. Under his leadership Apple was the only large tech company that didn’t match its employees’ charitable donations. (His replacement, Tim Cook, recently instated this policy.)

So yeah, great businessman, innovative designer, visionary, changed computing forever… kind of a total douchebag, personally, however.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@mazingerz88 Hmm. Well, @JLeslie is not the only one who’s thought this about Jobs. There’s a reason Fake Steve Jobs is such a phenomenon, and I think it’s because many people aren’t such big fans of his.

JLeslie's avatar

@mazingerz88 He did do some great things. His products helped all sorts of people from what I understand. A girlfriend of mine just mentioned on facebook his products helped children with learning disabilities. But really, why does Apple make things that only work with Apple? Why don’t I have Flash on my Ipad? Why was AT&T the only carrier for Iphone? I know now Verizon and soon Sprint will have it, but that took a while.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Aethelflaed I mourn him like I mourned John Lennon. It was not really about the man but their future gifts that have been lost to the world because they died too soon. Some people might find this very shallow but I’ve always felt great about my iPad’s battery lasting many hours before it needed recharging. That was so important to me, see?

And then just today on the radio, I heard an engineer or an executive of Steve Jobs talked about how Jobs spent months working on the iPad’s battery. Of course we know he did not invent anything in the iPad, he just put it together. It maybe easy for someone to dismiss his day to day job as CEO but I would imagine it was not easy. But with regards to the battery, well…he knew. He knew it would make customers smile.

Qingu's avatar

Inventors usually aren’t as influential as people who figure out how to cobble together existing inventions into a practical and profitable product. That was what Edison and Ford did, too. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb or the battery; Ford didn’t invent the car or assembly lines. But they took ideas that were floating around at the time, honed them, and fit them into a business model.

martianspringtime's avatar

I didn’t realize (until today, actually, while I was reading one of my textbooks) that Jobs was the co-creator of the first personal computer; in my ignorance, I thought he was just ‘The Apple Guy’. So it’s not really that his death was important, but what he made when he was alive. Imagine where we’d be without personal computers. Probably outside! /shudder/

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think many people would say the Apple II was “the first personal computer.” Most experts seem to think that that honor goes to the MITS Altair.

Jobs deserves credit for making this tech easy to use and less intimidating, however.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Because he was a husband and a father.

JLeslie's avatar

@mazingerz88 I like my long lasting Ipad battery also :). And, I agree about the loss of future ideas and products.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@mazingerz88 Lol ok. I think the OP was referring to the huge media response. I mean, tons of famous people die. Elizabeth Taylor died, there was very little buzz. Amy Winehouse dies, I see a few tweets about it. Steve Jobs dies, and within half an hour, I get over 200 tweets in my feed about it – literally (proper usage, I actually checked) everyone I follow had at least one tweet about it. Jobs died, and everyone on the internet turned their thoughts to him, almost like some technological morphic field.

Qingu's avatar

Apple products are pretty widespread among media companies. Plus I think a lot of people in the media were sort of counting on Apple to be their sugardaddy to prop up their dying industry with the iPad’s newsstand-replacement thing.

The NYT, which I usually have a lot of respect for, has often crossed over into outright marketing for Apple products. And of course the NYT was always prominently features as Apple apps or browseable website.

mazingerz88's avatar

@JLeslie And yes, why can’t I edit my response to Fluther because I can’t scroll down the window without erasing the latter part of my post in my iPad? Lol.

I’m not a tech expert but from what I’ve heard and read, Steve Jobs disliked Flash. As whether the reason was justified, petty or cruel, I don’t know. Maybe it was greed? Maybe Flash was unstable?

With regards to the compatibility issues, personally that was one of the reasons I liked Apple. I hated Windows and the Mac’s OS was a godsend for me. I believe it’s just a very typical business decision to make more profit. But I always expect them to come up with the next gadget that I would have fun buying even if I do not necessarily need it. Lol.

JLeslie's avatar

@mazingerz88 I don’t have that problem on my ipad.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Aethelflaed If you don’t stop the way you’re posting about Jobs, I think I’m gonna have a tearful moment here! T_T

Lol. Oh, freakin…my iPad’s battery is down to 7%! But @JLeslie and I know that’s still a lot of minutes. Heh. So yeah, on to my fave porn site then! : )

@JLeslie Oh, really? If you have the first version then please, please teach me how! Lol.

Qingu's avatar

Flash does objectively suck. And HTML5 renders it virtually pointless.

chyna's avatar

He was the inventer of our lifetime. The things he has brought to my lifetime has touched the lives of most on the planet earth and will be the measurement of inventions yet to come. Thank you Steve Jobs, for enriching the lives of all of us.

mrrich724's avatar

The contributions he’s made are SO profound that when someone like that is no longer here, people wonder “what next,” because there is likely no one that can do what he did. Not in the near future anyway. People compare him to Thomas Edison . . . between Edison and Jobs, how many people have garnered such a compliment? No one.

Also, as @Judi stated in one of the first responses on this page, I think more people are using this event as a point to stop and celebrate Steve’s life.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@missafantastico I think your question is best answered by the number of fairly reputable, mainstream news sources that have articles on how Steve Jobs had a cult of personality, including BBC, ABC Online, Forbes, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Reuters.

plethora's avatar

@JLeslie chooses to make extreme profits

What are extreme profits? What is extreme risk?

TheIntern55's avatar

In the book Fahrenheit 451, a character says about his grandfather, a carpenter,death,“I realized after he died that it wasn’t him I loved; it was what he did, the things that he made I loved. I wasn’t saddened that I wouldn’t see him again, I was saddened that the world has missed out on his wonderful creations that were yet to be made.” This is how we think of Steve Jobs. We won’t miss him, we’ll miss his brilliant mind and the things he gave us. I learned the news of his death on an iPad, I am typing this from an iPod touch, and my school just got new Apple computers. Jobs was the mastermind of all that, and that is what we’ll miss. We may never know what other great ideas he had in his great mind.

mazingerz88's avatar

@TheIntern55 Aha, my point exactly! Lol. ^^

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora I think Apples Net Profit last year was around $12 billion? I’m not sure of the exact number. If they had made $1billion it would still be a huge number. But, I don’t want to fight the political argument this can turn into on this Q if you don’t mind. Let’s just say I have my lines that I think would be better if not crossed, better for integrity in the world. I think the price of his products should be what he thinks would be a fair price for his mother to pay for a product, not only what the market will bear. Our market in the US sits on the bubble of credit, too many people cannot really afford the things they buy, it is a false market.

plethora's avatar

@JLeslie Agreed. My question takes this thread in a different direction. Your comment caught my eye and I couldn’t resist. Thanks.

dreamwolf's avatar

Why is his death so important? Well he was a founder and innovator of bringing a household commodity in the form of Macintosh computers. I remember in 1991 learning to type “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” in my elementary library, and it was of course, on a Macintosh by Apple. He put a high quality product in the hands of progressive humans. I’m sure the inventor of stone wheels was given a proper burial and praise as well. It’s that kind of importance that he made, which is so vital to human progress. He didn’t create a product merely for himself. I think a great person is one who finds a way to share their vision with others, and Steve Jobs has done just that.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@TheIntern55 Yeah, but I think the interesting thing is that people don’t feel like they’ve lost “the inventor of computer things” or “this guy who oversaw and envisioned certain technological products”. They feel like they’ve lost Steve Jobs, the person, who personally and directly effected their own personal lives. When Apple products help your life, people aren’t like “Thanks, Apple” or “Thanks, Apple engineers, and all those minions who worked tirelessly coding all this, and whoever came up with the circular scrolling feature on iPods”, people think “Thanks, Steve Jobs”. Alternatively, when microwaves (which are more ubiquitous than Apple products, or products inspired by and designed to compete with Apple products) help out people’s lives, people don’t react with “Thanks, Percy Spencer”. Or when PCs allow you to email your parents, people don’t think “Thanks, Bill Gates” – at best, they think “Thanks, Microsoft”. People don’t see Steve Jobs as this guy who created and oversaw Apple, but rather as Apple himself. People feel they know Steve Jobs, even though most have never met him, even more than they know actual people (say, perhaps, the mailman, or the landlord). And people are far more emotional about Steve Jobs’ passing than they would be if they found out the mailman or landlord died. This is a very interesting phenomenon, much like when Michael Jackson died.

plethora's avatar

@Aethelflaed Agreed, Altho comparing to Michael Jackson is almost a desecration.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@plethora Lol, well, I meant as a phenomenon, but I did not in any way mean to insinuate that Jobs was a messed up and toxic as MJ.

plethora's avatar

@Aethelflaed Understood. And I ignored the rest of your post, which was excellent.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie the reason Apple products are so closed is because they can be tested to produce excellent end-user experiences. One of the problems with open platforms such as windows is that you can get millions of possible combinations of hardware and software that often conflict with each other. Ever know a PC user that has had driver conflicts?

As for flash on the iPad, Adobe made it, but it sucked, it drained the battery very fast because it’s a proprietary format that has likely been cobbled together over many years. Apple didn’t want to have people’s iPad batteries being drained quickly (the went through a LOT of hard work to make them last as long as they did) when playing flash content because most people wouldn’t understand that the fault was Adobe and not Apple.

Instead Apple took the approach of pushing the web forward with better, open technology that we will all benefit from in the years to come. A big part of Jobs’ genius was knowing what to cut out, and not just what to tack on.

The technologies that Jobs pioneered have literally changed my life. I’m dyslexic, my handwriting has always been iffy, but when I was little, it interfered with my ability to write effectively. I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t had a computer to express my ideas (I did a lot of creative writing as a child), if I would have ended up in special ed. Instead, the computer allowed me to really blossom in school, I ended up getting accepted into a gifted public high school instead of taking remedial classes in special ed.

After Steve was fired from Apple, he founded a company called NeXT that built an object-based computing model. It used the recently-developed Objective-C programming language which was way ahead of it’s time. In 96 Apple bought NeXT and Jobs returned to Apple, raised it from the dead, and elevated it to one of the most successful companies in the world. What many people don’t know is that every Mac, iPhone and iPad are running on the foundations built by NeXT in the early 90’s. It’s a huge part of the reason why these devices are so damn great, because the guts have been refined for 20 years.

Objective-C was the first programming language I ever learned. It’s a wonderful language because it allows you to write code at a high level like many of the friendlier languages such as Python, but it also allows you to drop down into low-level code for some tasks if you need to make them lightning fast. The language syntax itself is friendly to dyslexics like myself because it uses named parameters, so it’s less stuff to try to keep track of in your head. It has allowed me to pursue programming as a serious hobby, and perhaps as a career in the future.

Jobs has literally changed my life in many fundamental ways. And with the Siri voice interface for the new iPhone, I suspect he will have played a major part in transforming the lives of many blind people, as much as FaceTime video chatting has done so for the deaf.

I’ve also heard a rumor that Steve may have one last act that might involve setting up something similar to the Nobel prizes. That would be so amazing if true.

Qingu's avatar

@gorillapaws, I agree with your defenses but Apple’s policies towards iTunes and iTunes songs only working on Apple mobile devices are pretty sketchy.

Speaking as someone who has long ago since fallen into the Apple spiderweb and now owns hundreds of iTunes songs.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Qingu I agree about the iTunes store’s DRM being shady. In Apple’s defense, the music/TV/Film execs likely played a big part in it. Also, Apple has always allowed the user to rip CD’s with iTunes to generate DRM-free music, so that’s an option.

plethora's avatar

@gorillapaws That is an absolutely fantastic post with LOTS of detail re Jobs effect as a world changer. Thanks very much. GA

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Thanks for all of that information. I had touched on above that I was aware he had done somethng that helped people with learning disabilities, but I did not know the detail. Itunes, the example @Qingu is a great example of one of the things that bothers me about Apple. Obviously, the topic of Steve Jobs and Apple is a mixed bag, but overall I don’t deny he made an incredible contribution.

Qingu's avatar

@gorillapaws maaaaybe you’re right. Jobs did write that anti-DRM rant once. On the other hand locking in iTunes users into Apple devices has been a huge part of Apple’s business model, so I dunno.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Qingu that’s very true, but remember that we might not even have legal digital downloads at all if it weren’t for Jobs. He created a platform where people were willing to pay for music downloads instead of getting them for free by stealing them. Everyone thought he was a moron trying to compete with free, but by making a great buying experience with fairly reasonable terms—at a time when record companies were writing root kit viruses into CDs no less, he pulled it off.

I suspect that if we never had the iTunes store we would all be renting our music via a monthly fee.

Qingu's avatar

I could see the argument that it was the lesser of several evils at the time.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gorillapaws No. Jeff Robbin invented Soundjam MP, which was was then purchased by Apple and turned into iTunes. Steve Jobs didn’t invent iTunes. Even what Apple contributed, it wasn’t Steve Jobs, personally. What Steve Jobs did, what Steve Jobs always did, was hire people who could invent stuff and then he sold it. Steve Jobs was more a salesman than an inventor. And by far, Apple’s talent was not inventing stuff from scratch, but taking a preexisting invention and polishing it so it would be more appealing to the masses.

Look, I’m sorry, but this Steve Jobs worship has to stop. By continuing to give him this much credit, people are being seriously disrespectful to other inventors/creators/refiners and glazing over all the other people who did great things. People are not and would not be this grateful to Bill Gates, or Tim Berners-Lee (invented HTLM and the World Wide Web), or James Russell (invented the CD-Rom), or Brent Townshend (invented the 56k modem), or Douglas Engelbart (invented the mouse). Steve Jobs was not the only man doing things in computers, and it is hugely disrespectful to insinuate otherwise.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Aethelflaed I never said he invented iTunes. I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that he was the visionary behind the iTunes Music Store, however. I read a story about him that when the engineers brought him the first iPod prototype, he told them it was too big. According to the story, the engineer pleaded with him that everything was as compact as they could possibly make it. Jobs then took the prototype and dropped it into a fish tank in the room and told him: “See the bubbles? That means there’s air in there, you can make it smaller.” So they left, redesigned it and released the smaller one as the first iPod. I don’t know if the story is true, but that’s how far he pushed his team to make his products as great has he knew how.

He was known for finding all of the particular details that were off, and having his team refine them. He was responsible for rounded corners on rectangles in software as an example. If you look at Apple products, rounded rects are everywhere in the software and in the hardware, e.g. the bezels on iMacs, the keyboards, the shapes of iPhones. There is a theory about rounded rects being easier for people to process, and are more inviting/approachable than sharp-cornered rects. This is just one example of the kinds of details that Jobs was known for caring about.

I’m sorry but I don’t think pointing out the man’s amazing contributions in any way belittles people who have done other things. Steve Jobs’ name is on over 300 patents, (Apple has over 3,000 patents, so he wasn’t just putting his name on every one of them) including things like packaging. He was known for spending significant amounts of energy on ensuring that the packaging was a great experience to open. His name is even on patents for electrical plugs—no detail was too small for him to care about.

He certainly couldn’t have built all that he did on his own, but his hand (and critical eye) played a much bigger part in products than I think you’re giving him credit for.

mazingerz88's avatar

@gorillapaws I knew it. Twice I’ve bought Apple laptops and I was freakin out why I can’t throw away the boxes, the instructions booklet with the Apple stickers in it. And I haven’t. The boxes are too cute to discard. Even bought a small item once just to get their chic plastic bag. Pathetic I know but pure fun. Damn Steve Jobs. Lol.

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