Sunday, October 9, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs

"Steve Jobs"
Mark Nesmith
Oil on Canvas
10" x 8"
Click here to bid on this painting.
People who have only known me as an adult may not realize this, but as a young man I was a techie of the highest order. During middle school and high school countless hours of my youth were spent typing away at a computer.  During my freshman year I built a voice synthesizer for my old Commodore 64 computer and made it all the way to the Texas State Science Fair in Austin.  The following year I made to the region finals at the Houston Science and Engineering Fair with an expert system data base I wrote.  My friends and I were programming our own games with the dream of being the next big thing in Silicon Valley.  It wasn’t until late in high school that my focus began to shift more and more towards music and art and away from computers. 
This past week our nation mourned the loss of one of our true innovators.  Steve Jobs has been variously described as a visionary, a pioneer, and a genius.  He is credited with revolutionizing half a dozen different industries.  From Apple computers to smart phones and tablets, you’d be hard pressed to find an individual in our country who hasn’t been touched by some of his creations.  I was a late convert to the iPhone, but now I’m virtually lost without it.
Perhaps more important than the Macs and iPads he masterminded, Jobs genuinely seemed like a pretty good guy, temperamental and demanding, but a good guy nonetheless.  That seems to be a rare trait among our top business executives.  At a time when there are protests bordering on riots on Wall Street denouncing the inequality of our economic system, there are few who have bad things to say about Apple’s creator.  Whether through intent of design or by timing or sheer luck, much of the technology Jobs helped to pioneer opened doors for us little guys still dreaming of making it big.  I use Garageband and Logic on an iMac to record my music in hopes of releasing my own cd in the near future.  iTunes made it possible for unsigned musicians to compete head to head against the major labels, something unheard of when I was playing in my first bands in high school.  The same can be said of amateur movie makers and fine artists.  The advances in technology have opened a whole world of possibilities for those of us trying to make a living from our creative juices.
Jobs was a perfectionist who tried to foresee and predict trends in technology before they happened.  I think that’s true of all visionary minds, from Edison and Ford on up through Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.  As the great Silicon Valley pioneers head to their golden years, I wonder who the next generation of innovators will be.  Innovation in America almost seems to be a forgotten dream.  Steve Jobs was one of a kind, but I’m afraid we’re going to need a few more like him if our country is going to have as bright a future as our past.

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