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October 6, 2011
Steve Jobs: Now On iCloud
I miss Steve Jobs already.
That wasn't always the case. I ran a design studio from 1986 until 2004, or, should I say, his babies ran it. I bought my first Mac in 1992 at the urging of my clients to get into the computer age. They were used to a PC environment and they thought that a computer would make my work cheaper for them, so I invested twenty four thousand dollars in a system that was composed of a Mac II ci with 8mb of RAM, an 80mb hard drive, a 21-inch monitor, a scanner, a printer, a Syquest drive, and software. It sat as an expensive paperweight until a new employee, who was versed in all things Apple, showed me what we could do with it and we never looked back.
Those early machines were slow and it was painful to do a simple task like resize a photo. We'd initiate it and go for a walk while the machine labored and crashed and labored and crashed. The rule of thumb was that if it wasn't crashing 10 times a day, it wasn't a Mac. I invented nasty words for Apple's customer service, which was abysmal. Still, even though I used Jobs’ name in vain daily, I invested more and more money to where I eventually had six compete workstations.
Jobs wasn't at the helm of Apple at the time, having been pushed out by a short-sighted board of directors and Apple was on the verge of going out of business or being bought out. Stock prices were below $20 and I had an inkling that the company was due to rebound. The day I decided to call a stock broker to buy shares was the day the reinstated Jobs introduced the iconic iMac with its candy drop shape and colors, minus (horrors!) a floppy drive. Jobs knew that floppies were a thing of the past but I still cursed him. A small but significant vision that Jobs knew what we needed. Who uses floppies today? I didn't buy the stock because it almost doubled, but in hindsight, I wish I had.
I didn't have an inkling of what he had in store for Apple or us users. Although the lure of the PC was strong, I became a Mac advocate and bought one for home and for my children when they went off to college. Then came the iPod that revolutionized how we listened to and transported music, and the iTunes store, which legitimized the downloading of songs. Hardware and content…genius!
Then along came the iPhone, which was and is the must-have mobile smartphone, and the iPad, which sets the standard for tablet computing. I'm writing this on an iMac with which I can do almost anything I need to do from a design standpoint. It runs circles around my old 24k system and I can't imagine doing any design production work without it. How did I ever manage? My youngest son uses a MacBook Pro at college that puts my iMac to shame, recording music, writing, and communicating with his peers. His school, Ball State, is a fully Mac campus, by the way.
All this hardware, beautifully designed and intuitive to use, was of the mind of Steve Jobs and somehow he knew what we needed, not what we wanted. He helped put the personal computer into just about every home and everyone's hand, forever changing how we create, do business, communicate with one another, and enjoy music and video. I don't know what divine hand guided him, or whether like Edison, Tesla, Marconi, or Ford, he merely came along at the right time in history, but like them he created an entire industry. He didn't invent the computer, but as Henry Ford did with the automobile, he gave it to the masses, helping to create entire industries of software, support, search engines, social media, and more. Talk about a game changer! The personal computer has often been hailed as having had the biggest impact on civilization since Gutenberg used movable type and the printing press.
Up until his retirement, he was still working on the next Apple offering and I'm sure the company will go on to big things without him. I followed his bout with pancreatic cancer and winced at how frail and thin he had become, but his magnificent mind was still there. I never imagined that he would leave us all so soon.
Steve Jobs made his very prominent mark in world history with his drive, innovation, passion, and foresight. He was an inspiration to all of us who are designers by trade. We should all be so fortunate to accomplish a fraction of what he did.
I miss Steve Jobs.

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Steve James owned and creative directed an advertising and design studio in Buffalo, NY with the un-snappy name of SteveJamesDesign, Inc. Steve and his family now live in Indianapolis where he worked as a Creative Director and he is currently in transition, flux, metamorphosis, segue, or whatever looking for work is now called.

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