It was 6th October, 2011, when Steve Jobs died. Mere words cannot do justice to a man of his stature, who taught the world that having faith despite great odds is what separates real men from the rest. I don’t know what it is that makes me nostalgic to find out about Jobs’ death. I didn’t know him personally, I had never met him, but he had this aura of romanticism about him as if technological inventions were not merely breakthroughs in science, but a breakthrough in romance. Jobs unlike others had this magical ability to transform his own dreams, fantasies into reality and rarely has there ever been a man out there who has been able to achieve so much in such little time.
What is perhaps most moving is that Jobs had this ability to create products out of thin air. He was an inventor, a college drop out, a visionary. But unlike many, he was not steel cold. It was as if he felt and wanted others to feel what he has felt through the course of his life. His inventions had that personalised touch to them as well. Today, as he is no longer with us, he has in his absence created a cult that is more real and alive than all the potter heads out there. He is the JK Rowling of modern invention and while Rowling wrote fiction, Jobs transformed fiction into reality.
However as I write this article, it is not sadness that perturbs me, but more, a sense of loss of someone who had revolutionised the world of modern technology. As for Jobs, the owner of the Jackling House, and the force behind Apple Inc – he changed the world and cheated death. Even in death he taught us a lesson – never to give up.
For several years the man who owned the Jackling House, in Woodside California tried to knock it down. He despised the place completely and in his own words, “one of the biggest abominations of a house I’ve ever seen.” He hated it so much that he refused to live there and lived several miles away in Palo Alto. It was a strange mansion and if you ever come across the pictures you’ll see that the interior depicted a ghostly crumbling building. Conservationists had protested against the owner wanting to tear it down, but a deal was struck. The owner agreed on paying $600,000 to have it taken down and rebuilt somewhere else – a disappointment according to his standards. In June this year, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the CEO of Apple Inc had a liver transplant in Memphis, Tennessee sometime in April. He had opted to rent a house in Memphis to be in proximity if a liver came by. His choice of Tennessee was based upon the fact that it had the shortest transplant waiting list. However, even at that place the sickest patient made to the top of the list and according to hospital officials he was ‘the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time.” “He’s lost his gall-bladder, part of his stomach, part of his pancreas, the upper end of his small intestine and now has someone else’s liver, which probably means he’ll be on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of his life. That can’t be fun,” wrote the author of the Apple 2.0 blog at CNNmoney.com. Despite his health, he continued to work for Apple not allowing his health to influence matters at the company that he held very close to his heart.
Apple Inc, along with its personal computers, Ipods, Ipads, Iphones developed a strong code of secrecy that happened to be one the signature products of the Apple corporation. A cult was developed where secrecy was the call of the day, ruthlessly enforced in the nooks and corners of the $140 billion corporation. Four months before his operation, Jobs had written out to the Apple Community stating that “Fortunately, after further testing my doctors think they have found the cause – a hormone imbalance that has been ‘robbing’ me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.”
While many may castigate this code of secrecy, Jobs’ love for Apple was evident in his attempts to hide the extent of his illness from the Apple community. Jobs believed in doing the impossible and perhaps this time again he believed he could do the same, escape the clutches of death. Critics might argue that this secrecy was unfair to the stakeholders of the corporation but Job was an idealist not a realist. Explaining idealism to realists becomes a tough task at times. With time running short, and the odds piled up against him, in February Jobs had been made privy of the fact that he had little time left. He told this to a few acquaintances and the word gradually spread as the farewell pilgrimage began. The calls started to trickle in, and soon enough callers thronged in thousands, people who wanted merely a few minutes to say their good byes. People thronged his home as well just to have a chance to talk to Steve Jobs, but they were politely intercepted by his wife who would tell them that Jobs was too tired to receive any visitors.
Some were desperate enough to ask if they could come back the next day, but his wife said that he had only so much energy for farewells. The tech world’s wizard of OZ in the last days of his life had already decided whom he needed most before he left.
In the last few days of his life, he invited a close friend, Dean Ornish, a preventive health advocate to join him for sushi at one of his favourite restaurants, Jin Sho in Palo Alto. Met with long time colleagues like venture capitalist John Doerr, Apple board member Bill Campbell and Chief Executive Disney, Robert A. Iger. He also spoke to his biographer Walter Isaacson. According to reports he also started a new drug regime and said he was still hopeful. However he spent most of the time with his wife and children who are now the heirs to his $6.5 billion fortune and have the responsibility of tending to the legacy of the man who revolutionised the tech world.
“Once you’re gone, you belong to the world,” said one acquaintance as people write eulogies in the memory of Steve Jobs from all across the globe. Millions across the world were saddened to hear the demise of the greatest revolutionary the world has ever seen. Most importantly Steve Jobs like the apple logo, gave millions of people not only a product, but a bite of his ingenuity, personalised to serve their needs. No other company or product can boast this single achievement of being able to attribute their products to the creativity of a single man. Abandoned by his mother and having dropped out of college since his foster parents could not afford an education, Jobs embarked on a road to self discovery, a road of following his heart, wherever it led him, and his journey is by far the most successful in the history of journeys. There are very few people who could single handedly transform the lives of millions of people. If you know anyone who was born in the early 1900’s you would realise that his life began with horse carts and perhaps ended with man landing on the moon. If analysed with the advances of the last few decades it will be understood that there has been a stagnation of such technological advances. A term understood by people as the ‘innovation slow down’. According to a very intriguing analysis of the same argument, there has been a ‘loss of utopian élan’. The romanticism of delusion was at the heart of technological breakthroughs in the 20th century. Individuals imagined completely utopian worlds and presented them in a way that allowed the vagaries of the human mind to flutter as they pleased.
While these were in essence delusions but they were inspiring delusions, they opened parallel worlds and allowed the human mind a capacity to think beyond the realm of pragmatism. Such utopianism is almost non existent at present, and Steve Jobs can be singularly attributed to be the wizard that transformed such delusions into reality.
The writer is News Editor, Profit. You can contact him at [email protected]