In the hours following the announcement of Steve Jobs’ death, I was amazed by how many people quickly posted the news on Facebook, expressing their own variations on how much of a loss this was to the world.
President Barack Obama released a statement, saying, “there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”
I think that speaks volumes of how important Jobs has been to the modern world, but it’s important to remember that his innovations were not limited to the Apple products most closely associated with him. Jobs’ work spanned multiple industries and multiple companies. The Macintosh may be his most famous creation, but it’s hardly his only one.
It says something about Jobs and his legacy that the debate is not whether or not Jobs changed an industry. The debate is really this: Which industry did he change most?
As the arts and entertainment editor for the Lariat, perhaps I’m a little biased towards placing importance on Jobs’ work with Pixar.
Pixar reformed the entire film industry and Jobs played a major role in that. Many people were wondering about the viability of computer animation. … That is, until “Toy Story” came along in 1995. Since then, Pixar has continued to produce great film after great film. Most of them, if not all, would likely not exist if Jobs had not made the company what it has become.
There are not many people I respect as much as Steve Jobs simply because there aren’t many men who do as much with their lives as Jobs did. In many ways, I think his death is the end of the era he kept alive with each innovation he made.
We had the industrial revolution and we are now living in the information revolution — the degree I’m currently seeking, a masters in information systems, is still fairly new and is undoubtedly the result of this revolution — but perhaps Jobs’ death marks the end of the information revolution. Perhaps we’re no longer experiencing the information revolution, just information.
If Jobs’ goal was to unite the world, allowing us instant communication across the globe, then he (along with others like Bill Gates, who should not be forgotten as we all heap well-deserved praise on Jobs) largely succeeded.
I didn’t know Jobs — I never met him and sadly never will — but my guess is that the question he would ask now is, “What next?”
So as we reflect on Jobs’ life and his achievements, let us remember that the specific inventions matter, yes, but it is also the spirit of innovation that matters. Somewhere, sitting in a garage or a basement, another Jobs is working on something even more innovative than the Macintosh.
That, in my opinion, is the ultimate tribute to Jobs.
Joshua Madden is a graduate student in information systems from Olathe, Kan., and is the Lariat’s A&E Editor.