Jobs was important for many reasons. For instance, as one of the founders of Apple, Jobs created what has become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Through the Macintosh computer, Jobs created a product that made computing significantly easier and paved the way for the development of...
Jobs was important for many reasons. For instance, as one of the founders of Apple, Jobs created what has become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Through the Macintosh computer, Jobs created a product that made computing significantly easier and paved the way for the development of Windows and other graphical user interfaces. As the head of NeXT, Jobs created a UNIX-based operating system that became the basis for all modern Mac and iOS devices, like the iPhone. Of course, the iPhone, and other devices that share its touch screen interface, has made computing virtually ubiquitous. We have yet to fully understand the implications of the “always connected” culture the iPhone helped make possible.
Underneath all Jobs's achievements, however, were a few basic ideas that shaped how computing developed. First, Jobs saw that computing had to be intuitive. While he did not invent the graphical user interface, Jobs understood how the metaphor of “files” and “folders” that you could directly interact with using a mouse made computing understandable in a way the commands of IBM’s rival PC-DOS operating system never could be. Second, Jobs understood how computing could disrupt market segments and transform how people lived and worked. He believed that computing could help people be more efficient, more creative, and better connected. Third, he created a set of expectations for computing in society that endures to this day. Job’s vision of computers that “just work” is one that we continue to pursue, and his optimistic vision of a connected future forms much of the basis for current trends in machine learning and AI-powered services like Alexa.
Lastly, Jobs is important because he came to embody a particular type of entrepreneur. Apple’s trajectory from Jobs’s garage to its current billion-dollar valuation has become a kind of modern business myth, and Jobs himself has become an emblem of the billionaire loner visionary who is out to change the world though innovative gadgets and software. In that sense, Jobs is a kind of precursor to men like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. It’s possible to argue that Musk’s belief that he can “solve” certain intractable problems, like urban transit or space travel, through the clarity of his vision is, for good or ill, a very Jobsian attitude. Although he died in 2011, Jobs is still very much with us.