"I'm just totally awestruck, a bit shocked, a bit surprised," Wozniak, 61, said in an interview today with Bloomberg Television's Susan Li on the "Asia Edge" program. "I did not expect it. It felt a lot like you just heard that, you know, John Lennon got shot, or JFK, or Martin Luther King."
- Steve Wozniak, co-founder with Steve Jobs of Apple Computer. [read more]The news of Steve Jobs' death from cancer at age 56 broke at something like 4:40 yesterday afternoon. By 4:44, everybody with access to the internet knew about it, and the Facebook statuses and tweets and on-line news sources were filled with stories, quotes, statements of grief. Ever since, I've been observing what feels to me like the biggest shared outpouring of sorrow, the most extended eulogy, of any person in a really, really long time. In fact, to be honest, I can't remember the last time I had this feeling, of being part of an international cross-cultural cross-party everybody-at-the-table sense of loss. Partly it's to do with our technology today, but that's just facilitating what's happening. It's not the whole story.
The last big public death that affected me was Amy Winehouse a few months ago, which sent me immediately back to her music to marvel at her phrasing, her voice, her colossal talent. There was truly a magnificence in her, even at her train-wreck worst. But the response to her death was different, smaller.
Jobs is on a whole other order of magnitude. Wozniak sums it up best, I think, although I'm a little loath to admit it. Yes, it did feel like the stomach-punch of John Lennon's murder in 1980, in my third month of college. But absent that horror that comes of murder. Death from cancer is tragic. 56 is too young, no matter the circumstances, but cancer and murder not the same.
Still, it's true: this is the way I felt in 1980 when Lennon was killed, like the whole world was grieving, was filled with stories about him, the reminiscences of friends and colleagues. How many total hours of my life had I spent singing his songs, with my sisters as we slaved to clean the house on a Saturday morning, with my friends or just to myself. I felt like he was a part of me, of who I am and how I see the world, and then, tragically, removed from our plane of existence. I'm not old enough to remember JFK or MLK, so probably Lennon is the only one I can compare to.
Is there something wrong with me that I can't remember a single other person who's died since 1980 whose death set the entire world to grieving?
What I find so fascinating is that Jobs wasn't a politician or a priest, not a movie star or an athlete, not a painter or a musician. He was a guy with great ideas who made beautiful, functional stuff. He made stuff that totally changed our world. [As I write this, I am abundantly aware, thank you, that the stuff that Jobs made is not readily available to every person on the planet, that huge disparities in wealth mean many people don't have clean water to drink on a daily basis, let alone email on their smartphone. I know.] He's the guy who streamlined the look of my living room. No more shelves and shelves of CDs, stacks of music everywhere. All of that now lives in a sleek device that fits in the palm of my hand.
And seriously, don't get me started about the iPhone and how much I love that thing. All I'm going to say is that when I bought my first one, it was just before we met some friends for dinner at a sushi place across from the AT&T store. The entire time we sat at dinner with friends and delicious food, all I could think about was the phone in the box in the plastic bag at my feet. When it came time to choose our next activity -- did I want to go see a movie or live music, I bailed. And went home to set up my phone. A more clever bundle of attributes just does not exist than that little phone. All of the things it can do -- just amazing. No need to carry music, camera, address book. Gorgeous and easy to use. Soon it will replace money.
Jobs is also the guy that is changing my relationship to books, potentially. I had just been thinking about how most of my stuff, most of the belongings that I've toted from one domicile to the next since I was 17, are vanishing. No more records or CDs, as above. And now, I wonder, no more books? Soon, will all of those delicious pages of print just be replaced by handy electronic devices that weight just ounces? I had already been contemplating -- Kindle or iPad. It's only a matter of time before another Jobs-inspired if not -invented device makes its way into our house.
Maybe what's more amazing is the number of great Jobs quotes popping up everywhere, his terrific message to do what you love, to keep looking until you find it, to never settle. To stay hungry, to stay foolish. His exhortation to stay weird, creative, individual.
What a great human being, really, an inspiration to all of us. How lucky we are to live with his legacy in our hands and homes, and hearts. If you haven't watched or re-watched his address at Stanford in 2005, do so below or read the text here.
Whatever that thing is that you love, are you doing it? Are you listening to your gut and being the best You there is? There's still time. Do it. Don't wait.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.RIP Steve Jobs.