When we think of people who are revolutionary we often think of people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. In recent times, it’s hard to name somebody that has revolutionized the world more than Steve Jobs.
People may argue Bill Gates, Mike Lazardis, Bill Hewlett, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page or Sergey Brin have all done some amazing things in technology. However, nobody created more innovative, elegant and segment changing products than Steve. I should mention I am not a Mac user, but do get to use my wife’s iPad and my son’s iPod when they are not looking. From the Apple 1 to the iPad, Steve Jobs and Apple created tools that have changed the face of technology.
When I first went to University of Waterloo as a student in 1984, the university was so proud of their mainframe that they had an observation deck built to look down at it. The most exciting thing for me that year was that I had the opportunity to program on Apple Two’s. The operating system was a decade ahead of DOS. This is the first example of Apple catching their competitors by surprise. Windows spent a generation trying to catch up, and eventually they essentially copied most of the best features of early Apple operating systems.
In 1998 Apple came out with the iMac. The beautiful colours and the all-in-one design revolutionized the computer industry. Today, all of Apple’s competitors use this all-in-one design. It seems odd that nobody would think to add colour to PCs before Steve. Once again, Steve Jobs caught his competitors by surprise. It would be years before other companies produced coloured desktops.
In 2001, the first iPod was a $400 MP3 player with a 5-gigabyte hard drive and a mechanical scroll wheel that didn’t sync to Windows machines. Who knew that this device would completely change the music industry? Steve Jobs and iTunes completely changed the way music is distributed.
Not only was Steve a revolutionary, but a visionary as well. He could see things and create products that others only dreamed about. It was like he had a crystal ball predicting future technology trends.
The Apple Store is a brilliant and efficient concept. Have you ever been in an Apple Store that is not busy? Naming the sales staff geniuses and having all the technologies available for people to see and try is amazing in terms of a retail concept. Once again Apple’s competitors were caught by surprise. He completely changed the distribution model all his competitors used to get their products to market. We have yet to see a Dell, HP or RIM store.
In 2007 Steve Jobs introduced the first prototypes of the iPhone. This phone completely changed the smart phone world. Who had heard of an app before this? The cool thing Steve Jobs did when creating the iPhone was that he took on the wireless providers, and won. If they wanted to deal with him they would have to pay. One needs to have a pretty good product to win that battle. In a common theme, his competitors are still trying to catch up in the smartphone space. What other smartphone do you know that people will line up for days to get?
In 2010, Jobs introduced the first iPad. He said it was a culmination of years of work, starting with OS X, then iTunes, then the iPhone, then the App Store.The shockwaves are still evident more than a year later as manufacturers race to catch up. Many companies are pumping out their own tablets, but they can’t match Apple’s success. The iPad 2 was Jobs’ swan song. What nobody can argue is that the man went out on top, crossing the finish line well ahead of everyone else.
I believe Steve Jobs will go down as one of the greatest revolutionaries in history. He fought and won his battles with wireless service providers, the music industry, and manufacturers. I feel privileged to have lived at a time when I had the honour to see a genius change the world.