Saturday, October 08, 2011

We Will Miss You, Steve

Apple Logo with Steve Jobs silouette
by Jonathan Mak Long
One of our greatest visionaries, Steve Jobs, has died.

I didn't know how much I looked up to him until I heard that he had passed. I felt an incredible loss. Here was the leader who I have followed for over 3 decades . . . and he was gone. I cried.

I actually met Mr. Jobs once. It was in 1983, I think.  I had dinner with him as a matter of fact. He was at the CUE (Computer-Using Educators) conference in California to make a big announcement. There were 8 of us sitting at the dinner table and we engaged in the regular small talk. I think that was because he was saving the big stuff for after dinner.

When Steve walked up to the podium, he began to share with us his dreams. He told us about how he dreamed of the day when he would be able to talk with Aristotle through his computer. He dreamed of capturing the essence of Aristotle through his works and teachings and using that information to create a virtual intellectual likeness of the philosopher. This would allow students to actually discuss concepts with this ancient thinker.

Along with his Aristotelian dream, Jobs dreamed of having computers in classrooms for students to use. He wanted to enable learners by making computing accessible to all.

His big announcement for that evening was a step towards this end. He announced that over the next year, Apple Computer would be donating 1 Apple IIe computer to each and every school in California. It was called the 1 Apple per School program . . . and it actually happened. Each school in California received an Apple IIe computer. This was quite altruistic, but it had a marketing slant to it as well. Apple marketing had determined that if a school gets a computer the first year, they would purchase 5 the second year and typically outfit a computer lab with 15 computer the third year.  You might say that Steve Jobs was playing Johnny Appleseed as he seeded the landscape.

This anecdote happened almost 3 decades ago but it shows the vision that Steve Jobs nurtured. He had visions but he turned his visions into action. You can read all about the great things he accomplished somewhere else. Here I just want to remember him as a man who changed the world by making his ideas and dreams come to life.

I can only hope that I can follow in such footsteps.

Z

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