Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pioneers

Sometimes it takes someone leaving us to fully appreciate all of the things they've done for us.  Today, of course, I'm talking about Steve Jobs.

Mr. Jobs has been praised up and down in the past decade for his innovations:  the iPod, iPhone, iPad - but how many of us have stopped to think about where we'd be if he, Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates had never had the wherewithal to believe in themselves enough to follow through with their ideas back in 1976?

I'll admit it - I'm usually stuck in the past.  I remember the past (or imagine it, since I wasn't born yet in my favorite years, 1948-1952) with a rosy fondness.  Things seemed so much simpler then, and pursuits were more relaxed, like radio or reading.  But were they really?

I know one thing:  without folks like Mr. Jobs, I wouldn't have gotten to "meet" any of you.  I would be writing this "column" purely for my own folly.  If I were lucky enough to have a version of this "column" in a newspaper, it would probably be weekly and it certainly wouldn't include color photos (and if it did include photos, they'd be on black and white film, I'd have to get them developed and they'd be processed at the newspaper).  I'd also have to plunk my words out on a manual typewriter, which for me would take at least 10 times longer.  There'd be no way to announce that my "column" was in the paper except for advertisements in the same newspaper.  I surely wouldn't get the feedback from you all, so I'd have no idea if you enjoy it (or not).

My Facebook news feed was awash in well-wishing for Mr. Jobs' family last night.  My first thought was, "Did Edison have this kind of send-off?"  So I Googled his obituary and yes - it appears that Bruce Rae, who wrote his obit for the New York Times, admired Edison's work deeply.  Thomas Edison died at this time of year as well - October 18, 1931.  Back then, it was only newspapermen and radio announcers who were given the task of eulogizing these pioneers (the same went for Einstein as well, I'm sure).

Only time will tell, but I believe these men and women - these pioneers of the computer age - will go down in history as revered as the innovators before them.  It's just such a shame that Mr. Jobs had to leave us so early, because I do believe that if he had remained healthy, he'd still be dreaming up new products.  Who knows where his imagination would've taken us next.

I am so grateful to all of these thinkers, these inventors who have made it possible to do all of the things I take for granted on a daily basis.  I'm grateful for Edison's electricity patents, his phonograph, his Kinetoscope (movies' older cousin), his telephone improvements and everything else he did.  I'm grateful for these young computer geeks of 1976 who have changed our world in so many ways I would never be able to list them all here.  I'm grateful to these young whippersnappers, like Mark Zuckerberg, who weren't even alive yet when the Mac was launched (can you believe that?!?), yet took the tools at his disposal and created a global friend base.   We live in a tremendous age, and it's only going to be more amazing as the years roll on.  I remember my dad marveling at his Walkman back in 1982.  He'd be astounded at all the technological advances that have been made even in the seven years he's been gone.

I can't say I mourn the passing of Steve Jobs, this amazing individual, because I didn't know him personally.  But what I do mourn is a life cut short.  Thank you for all you've done for the world, Mr. Jobs - especially Pixar.  :D






3 comments:

  1. Nicely done, Mel. Although I'm not an Edison fan. I am delighted by his inventions, but he and Westinghouse had some run-ins and I've been a Westinghouse supporter. I learned this in Telluride (at a restaurant) and researched it and it's not left me. I wish someone could change my mind!

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  2. You really made me think, and realize how much I,too, take for granted. Thank you.

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  3. We would not have met, were it not for the internet! Much as I love vintage photos & ephemera, I do not miss the days of communicating only by snail-mail and (expensive) long distance phone calls!

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