Notable Reflections on Steve Jobs

Just about everyone who works in technology was affected by Steve Jobs. And over the past day, there have been many tributes, reflections, and conversations about the man and his impact. Here are a few of the most notable.

Om Malik explains why Steve Jobs was an icon:

For many of us who live and die for technology and the change it represents, he was an example of what was possible, no matter how the chips were stacked against you. Jobs put life and soul into inanimate objects. Everyone saw steel, silicon and software; he saw an opportunity to paint his Mona Lisa. People saw a phone; Steve saw a transporter of love. People saw a tablet; he saw smiles and wide-eyed amazement. They made computers; he made time machines that brought us all together through a camera, screen and a connection.

David Carr, on Jobs as showman and master publicist:

No one commanded the respect of the press like Mr. Jobs. I can remember a visit he made to The New York Times when the first iPad came out. The Times is a notoriously blasé place, where heads of state have been known to come and go without raising an eyebrow. But when Mr. Jobs came, the effect was electric. For three days, his advance team swept through our place, attending to every detail and making sure his time with a crew of reporters and editors would be seamless and glitch-free. We were all seated when he came in, in part because there were medical reasons for him to avoid grip and grins, but the whole rock star thing was in high effect. And then it was on. No one asks a casual question of Steve Jobs.

Walt Mossberg describes his impish nature:

Earlier in the day, before Gates arrived, I did a solo onstage interview with Jobs, and asked him what it was like to be a major Windows developer, since Apple's iTunes program was by then installed on hundreds of millions of Windows PCs. He quipped: "It's like giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell." When Gates later arrived and heard about the comment, he was, naturally, enraged, because my partner Kara Swisher and I had assured both men that we hoped to keep the joint session on a high plane.

Eric Schmidt describes Steve Jobs unerring ability to see what was coming:

What I remember thinking at the time is that you shouldn't take a job unless you know how to win. I had no clue how to do what he did. When somebody tells you they're going to do something and you say, "I don't understand how you're going to do that," and they succeed? That is the ultimate humbling experience. My interactions with Steve were always like that. He was always ahead of me. When he started working on tablets, I said nobody really likes tablets. The tablets that existed were just not very good. Steve said: "No, we can build one." One of the things about Steve is, he was always in the realm of possibility. There was a set of assumptions that Steve would make that were never crazy. They were just ahead of me.

The Onion is succinct and to the point:

Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Computers and the only American in the country who had any clue what the fuck he was doing, died Wednesday at the age of 56.

Andre Torrez contemplates hacker culture:

My favorite people make tools for people. Not just make tools, but make them with the intention of others using and enjoying those tools. I appreciate something done well and it fuels my own ambition to do good work. I was very sad to hear about Steve Jobs passing away not because I love my Apple computers or worship my phone, but because I felt that we shared the same feelings about making things better for people.

Tim Carmody on how Steve Jobs impacted his autistic son's world:

These frail and fragile bodies don't always work the way we want them to. Steve Jobs understood that. Steve Jobs succumbed to that. But he also left us things that make that easier, that let us touch people we might not otherwise. That will always touch me.

Tom Junod takes a dry-eyed approach:

Over the next few weeks, we may well discover that Apple made a frantic push to bring the iPhone 4S into existence, so that its progenitor could breathe a sigh of relief before breathing his last, and that the Moses marooned on the mountaintop could taste fruit from the Promised Land. But there will never be an iPhone 5, in the sense that there will never be an iPhone 5 introduced by Steve Jobs. There will never be an iPhone introduced by a man who always used his introductions to teach us that there is no Promised Land - and no mountaintop. There was only a relentless and remorseless American faith that we wanted what Steve Jobs wanted, and that if Steve Jobs liked something, so would we.

Panic Inc. on how Steve Jobs made the company aspire to its best self

When we started Panic, we'd often daydream about Steve demoing one of our apps on stage. That says so much. "Let's work hard to make this keynote-good!" We're heartbroken to be in a world where that will never happen. But, if Steve has taught us one thing, it's this: we will never stop working for it.

Chris Dixon (along with many others) describes his impact:

My entire life has been shaped by computers and from the Apple II to the iPhone it was always computers invented by Steve Jobs. Every technology entrepreneur looked up to him as the greatest innovator and entrepreneur we'd ever seen – and will likely ever see again. His passing is just an incredibly sad day for the tech world but most importantly his family and friends.

Mike Monteiro on Steve's willingness to embrace the unknown:

Steve Jobs had an amazing life. Did amazing things. Touched an incredible amount of people. And, most assuredly changed the world. But for me, sitting in the audience that day, a little bit more afraid of the future than I was willing to admit to anyone at the time, Steve Jobs taught me that the things you didn't know could be infinitely more exciting than the things you did know.

Pierre Omidyar on Jobs' legacy:

For me, Steve's legacy won't be limited to these breakthrough products, however. More important than the products themselves, he changed the way we think - and how we think about something is often the hardest thing to change. This makes Steve's successes all that much more remarkable.

Jason Snell shares a personal moment:

My daughter was born in the interregnum between the announcement of the iPod and its release to the general public. Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend the Apple event introducing the iPod got to take review units home, running beta software and pre-loaded with music. As my wife labored to bring my daughter into the world, she did so with music playing. It was a special playlist she had built in iTunes. This is not special now. This is part of the fabric of our lives. You make a playlist and then play it back. At a birth, or a birthday party, or some other social event. But back then nobody had iPods yet. Nobody except people from Apple and a few members of the media. I might have been one of the first people to have an indelible personal moment happen to the soundtrack of an iPod, but hundreds of millions more would follow.

Stephen Wolfram has personal remembrances of Jobs naming products, designing book covers, dating (and much more):

The conversation was going on, but he said he couldn't go to dinner, and actually he was quite distracted, because he was going out on a date that evening-and he hadn't been on a date for a long time. He explained that he'd just met the woman he was seeing a few days earlier, and was very nervous about his date. The Steve Jobs-so confident as a businessman and technologist-had melted away, and he was asking me-hardly a noted known authority on such things-about his date. As it turned out, the date apparently worked out-and within 18 months the woman he met became his wife, and remained so until the end.

Jonathan Schwartz on Jobs' lasting impact in the Valley:

For Silicon Valley, he has, in many ways, been the star around which we all orbit. His absence is disorienting. I can't think of a better way of describing it.

John Gruber on Steve Jobs' grass-stained shoes:

Surely, my mind raced, surely he has more than one pair of those shoes. He could afford to buy the factory that made them. Why wear this grass-stained pair for the keynote, a rare and immeasurably high-profile public appearance?

Brian Lam describes an awkward phone call:

"Hi, this is Steve. I really want my phone back."


You can keep up with Mat Honan, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.