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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 6, 2011 @ 9:21 am

    Steve Jobs 1955-2011

    Ciara O'Brien

    By now, you’ll have heard the news that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died yesterday at the age of 56. Whether you view him as a visionary, a marketing genius, businessman, he leaves behind some shoes that are almost impossible to fill.

    Counted among the greatest chief executives of a generation, Jobs is credited with dragging Apple out of near-bankruptcy and turing it into one of the most valuable companies in the world.

    His death, although sad, won’t come as a shock to many people. Jobs’s health problems have been widely publicised in recent years; in 2004, he revealed he had surgery to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant in 2009, before taking another round of medical leave in January this year.

    At the end of August, he announced he was stepping aside as chief executive, saying he could no longer fulfil his duties.  Days afterwards, a photograph of a frail-looking Jobs was published, leading to further speculation about his health. And then there was his failure to appear at the unveiling of the iPhone 4S on Tuesday.

    In the early hours of this morning, his death was announced by Apple, and a tribute now runs on the tech firm’s homepage. Flags are flying at half mast in Cupertino, and already tributes have begun pouring in from public figures and business leaders. Barack Obama has called him a visionary. Bill Gates described working with him as “an insanely great honour”. Sony CEO Howard Stringer said “the digital age has lost its leading light”.

    Jobs may be one of the greatest chief executives of a generation, but to many people, he was a lot more than that. Soon after his death was announced, memorials began springing up outside Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, and at Apple stores around the world.

    Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    It’s hard to escape Jobs’s influence, even if you aren’t a Mac fan or have never picked up an iPhone. His fingerprints are everywhere.

    The Apple II, for example, invented by Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniack, was one of the first lines of commercially successful personal computers. You may never have laid hands on one, but it helped influence what came afterwards. It was so successful, Apple would make Jobs a multi millionaire before he reached 25 years of age.

    The iPod was not the first digital music player on the market, but it became the most popular. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone either, but it certainly helped drive interest in the sector, with the end result that many people now carry iPhones or Android smartphones.

    The company has revolutionised the music industry, how we consume media, how we get online.

    A rising tide lifts all ships, and with Jobs at the helm, Apple was certainly providing some momentum.

    It could have all been so different though. In 1985, Jobs was forced out of the company he co-founded after a power struggle.

    In his years away from Apple, he bought what would become Pixar studios and established another tech company, NeXT.

    In the meantime, Apple’s fortunes were waning. At one point, it was said to be weeks away from bankruptcy. But in 1997, Apple announced it had bought NeXT and Steve Jobs was once more back in the fold. He took over as interim CEO that year, and in 2000, he was again the permanent head of Apple.

    When Jobs took over as interim CEO, the company had losses of $1.8 billion. These days, it rivals Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company. And in the intervening years, it has had numerous successful product launches – the iPod, the iPhone, the MacBook Air, the iPad, among others. Jobs was widely credited with influencing the creation of them all.

    As head of Apple, Jobs was a cult-like figure who inspired a level of devotion from employees and customers that most CEOs only dream of, a situation that was parodied by The Simpsons using “Steve Mobs”. He became almost indistinguishable from the company he helped found. Think of Apple, and Steve Jobs springs to mind.

    His keynotes were watched avidly; his departure from the company something that had investors understandably nervous. Six weeks ago that finally happened.

    And like most of his life, Jobs’s passing has been kept a private event.

    Apple’s statement:

    “Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve. His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.”

    His family also issued a statement, appealing for privacy:

    “Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family.

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    “In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve’s illness; a website will be provided for those who wish to offer tributes and memories.

    “We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.”

    The personal tragedy is his family’s, his friends’ and those who knew him.

    For the rest of us, the loss of Steve Jobs means, as others have said, the loss of a visionary, a great businessman and someone who was fascinating to watch.

    I’ll finish this with Jobs’s commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, one of the most inspiring speeches I’ve seen.

    YouTube Preview Image

    You can email your thoughts and condolences to rememberingsteve@apple.com

    • Mervyn Nixon says:

      The world has lost a great man

    • Chris Carpenter says:

      I am a Mac user, I have been been for 16 years. To read of Steve Jobs passing this morning on iPhone was especially poignant. My deepest, deepest condolences go to his wife, Lauren and his 4 children.

      His vision helped shaped who I am today. It allowed me to write Ph.D thesis without hindrance and to pursue my career as a designer. It allowed me to carry my entire music collection in my pocket and then to ditch the iPod, mobile phone and Palm and replace it with an iPhone.

      This probably comes across as hero worship and ‘fan-boyism’ that seams to be attached to Mac users: so what! I don’t care, my Mac always works, it never crashes, it never ever gets a ‘cold’ or is ever spied upon. There are alternatives but on more than one occasion I’ve had friends and colleagues come up to me and say, ‘Now I understand your obsession with Macs’.

      Apple, you have lost a great, great man and I am deeply sadden and have, privately, shed a tear or two. Keep the faith, keep up the vision and never ever forget Steve Jobs.

    • Dialashop says:

      Steve Jobs was an inspirational, sensational, a visionary and a great innovator for the computer industry through his computer / media products via Apple computers and NEXT computers and through his great speeches which were energetic and passionate. Also his involvement with Pixar bought us classic movies like Toy Story, Findig Nemo, Monsters Inc and the Incredibles. RIP Steve Jobs (1955-2011).

    • Erik Eblana says:

      Steve Jobs: The iHero who infused the mundane with ‘magic captured’, laying wonder and genius at our fingertips. The world has surely lost a great, great visionary and an exemplar human being.

    • Custo says:

      Ipods – great.

      itunes – shit.

      Shame that after he had taken your money the free essential software was such an insult.

    • Kynos says:

      Those words should be written in fire on every heart that ever laboured under the delusion that other people’s opinons and dogmas and certainties and judgements and imposed strictures should govern the way you live your life; that guilt and mundanity and mediocrity and compromise must be your lot; that the nail that sticks its head up is banged down; that conformity, ‘respectability’, and the pre-ordained should suffice to live your life by.
      There’s a man who appreciates karma; who understands that as you give so shall you receive and as you sow you reap. You can’t see how the clinamen swerve prospectively (though you might become good at discerning their probable swerve even then you’ll come unstuck) only retrospectively: how events and people and their effects on your life cannot be assessed at the time they occur but only when seen as the pattern in the weave; no more than you can discern a tapestry’s colour shape and narrative in the unspun threads that’ll be used to create it nor a painting in the blobs of an artist’s palette. But still, this should never prevent us from taking up a brush or a needle or a pen or a day and using them (or perhaps being used by them) to create something new and wonderful. Bob Noyce of Intel once said ”Don’t be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful.”
      Steve Jobs can rest easy knowing that not only did he do that for himself, he did it for countless millions of other people too (or perhaps he helped them do it for themselves). Om mane padme hum Steve hope you’re enjoying all the nice things being said of you this go-round as you wait in the bardo of becoming.

    • Lewis says:

      My iPhone died today too, bah

    • Bob Thesaurus says:

      Kynos, What are “clinamen” and why do they swerve?
      PS he’s dead – he can’t hear anything.

    • Kynos says:

      Cultivate non-attachment Lewis. When you take the ”i” out of it it is just one more thing.

    • Warren says:

      The American Nation and the World loses a visionary and one largest job creators, Thank you Steve,
      We will take it from here.

    • Aidan J. ffrench says:

      Some balance and perspective PLEASE amidst all the hagiography; it is bordering on sycophancy.
      Yes Jobs was a genius, yes Jobs was an inspring entpreeneur and a charming salesman. But please spare me the elevation to secular sainthood! If I hear another media or techie pundit say he was the most signficant humanitarian over modern times, I’ll scream
      For humanitarianism and champions and heros, read MLK, Aung Sang Suu Ky, Mandela, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop Romero, etc.,etc. These people fought for social justice, human rights, political emancipation, freedom from poverty. How in God’s name could Jobs enter that panteon.
      The bar is set high and within his limited field he was a gracious leader and achiever.
      But let’s keep things in perspective.
      Or maybe it just reflects our media-obsessed, vulgar cult or celebrity and self-centred individualism?

    • stiophan says:

      I am so happy that Steve was able to see his company succeed beyond probably even his wildest dreams. To do this and remain true to his vision of good design, little corporate greed, an inspired workforce, a devoted customer base ever growing and a respect from his peers that few others can match. The world will keep turning, Apple still survives but Steve will have taken solace that he did his best and many of his goals came true. I look forward to biography in the hope that it gives some insight on how we too can learn some of that Steve Job magic…..
      “The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long” sums up Steve…

    • Kynos says:

      The clinamen is the swerve in the fall of the atoms that gives rise to differentiation and thus everything, Bob. According to Lucretius.