Steve Jobs Lauded Like Rock Star
It's tempting to compare Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died of pancreatic cancer at 56, to various legendary historical figures. The most obvious choice is Thomas Edison, whose inventions similarly changed the world, even though Jobs' real talent wasn't creating technological innovations but figuring out how to utilize them.
It's inevitable that he'll be compared to Henry Ford since Jobs shared his fearlessness about taking big risks and tenacious focus on keeping control of what he created. And it's as easy as double-clicking an icon to call Jobs, the guy who made black turtlenecks and white computers irresistibly cool, the most talented marketer since the legendary H.J. Heinz, who put a ketchup bottle on every American table.
But as I scan the growing tsunami of emotion on the web about the man who brought us the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, the Steve Jobs analogy that jumps out is to John Lennon or Elvis or, if you're into Gen X grunge rock, Kurt Cobain. Jobs reshaped the modern world with his promotional acumen and "think different" creative ethic, inspiring the legions of mourners who spontaneously gathered outside Apple stores -- here's one such gathering in downtown San Francisco -- to leave flowers, candles, and old iPods and iPhones in tribute to their hero. That's the sort of adulation that you see at Jim Morrison's grave in Paris.
No, Steve Jobs wasn't just an inventor or a tycoon. He was a rock star, an icon who inspired a following that is as moved by his game-changing electronic products -- and the world of possibilities that they've opened in our lives -- as any of us ever were by a Hendrix guitar solo or Janis Joplin's plaintive wail. That's reflected in the sort of tributes that tweeters, both ordinary folks and famous ones, are posting to #SteveJobs and other hashtags -- #iSad, #Think Different and #thankyousteve, among others -- that are trending on Twitter. "A leader who changed the world without one drop of blood!" one writes. "We feel robbed of the great things he had yet to give us," another posts. "Born out of wedlock, put up for adoption, dropped out of college, changed the world," yet another tweeter observes.
My personal favorite: a mom who tweets her 10-year-old child's description of Jobs: "Oh, he's the man who invented the future."
The mainstream media is covering Jobs' passing in the sort of reverent prose and lavish column inches usually reserved for deceased heads of state. Here's a sampling:
The New York Times website, where Jobs' death is today's lead story, proclaims that he had "helped usher in the era of personal computers, and then led a cultural transformation in the way music, movies and mobile communications were experienced."
The San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's hometown paper, reports on the myriad worldwide tributes to "our Edison."
Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walter Mossberg recalls his frequent, wide-ranging conversations with Jobs over the years, and a wonderfully funny incident involving Jobs and Bill Gates, in "The Steve Jobs I Knew."
The Washington Post's front-page obituary provides perhaps the most nuanced, balanced portrait of Jobs, detailing not only his spectacular successes but occasional failures, such as the Apple Lisa (an early 1980s predecessor to the Mac), and some of his less-admirable personal foibles, including his refusal for years to acknowledge paternity or pay child support for his first daughter, his notorious temper, and his threatening to sue teenagers who dared to publish Apple gossip online.
MacWorld recalls Jobs' return in the late 1990s to the company that had ousted him as CEO and mourns him as "the man who saved Apple."
Wired.com fills a page with statements from luminaries ranging from film critic Roger Ebert to New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Cult of Mac has this oddly touching story about the empty seat reserved for Jobs at Apple's unveiling of the latest iPhone on the day before his death.
Simon & Schuster moves up the release date for Jobs' authorized biography, written by Walter Isaacson, to Oct. 24, the Mac Observer reports. In one of the most telling tributes to Jobs' impact on our culture, you'll be able to download the book from iTunes.
Read more: Steve Jobs: The Ultimate Boomer
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