Remembering Steve Jobs

The blogsphere is filled with postings about Steve Jobs and today, October 16th, was even declared “Steve Jobs Day” in California.  My sincere condolences to the Jobs family and his loved ones.

You’re probably reading a lot of ‘Steve stories’ – people’s accounts of personal encounters or special memories of a time when they felt a connection to Steve Jobs. Writing is how I express some of my deepest feelings, so here’s my own Steve Jobs story…

‘What will Steve say?’

Working 10+ years in Silicon Valley, and as a long time Mac fanatic, a week did not go by that I didn’t think, read, hear or see something that related to Apple. I worked as a journalist for a Mac magazine, so this engagement was part of my job.  But Apple was also a fascinating company and Steve Jobs was at the center of this mystic.

When I went to Macworld Expo, everyone seemed to have a Steve story (or wished they did). In its glory days, this trade show was like a technology ‘love-in’ that gathered Mac fans from all corners of the planet. In the pressroom, my fellow journalists hotly debated the features on the newest Apple product. But the discussion typically returned to focus on Steve Jobs…’wonder why Steve did that?’ or ‘what will Steve say about that?’ We would find the answers to those questions at the Apple press briefing.

Steve could be charming and charismatic, or impatient and direct with people who ‘didn’t get it’.  Woe to the journalist who dared to leak information that was under non-disclosure.  So what is my ‘Steve moment’?

Here is is…

It happened when Power Mac G5 was introduced, a powerful desktop in a standalone tower configuration. What caught my eye was that the G5 had a side access panel, and when opened, it provided very simple access to all the internal components. Nice things like graphics cards could be slipped in as easily as a letter going into an envelope. OK, you needed to watch what you were doing…BUT this easy access panel was a Mac first.

I wondered if this innovation was a precursor to the ability to do board-level upgrades, similar to what I’d seen on SPARC workstations. So instead of going to the Apple store to get a new Mac, perhaps you could just do your own hardware upgrade?

This question intrigued me enough to raise my hand…along with every other journalist in the press briefing who vied for Steve’s attention during the Q&A session.

Two other journalists were chosen and I started to feel silly with my hand in the air. I was in the back of the room too.  But then I saw Steve’s piercing eyes go in my direction and he nodded.  The guy ahead of me jumped up to speak, but Steve said ‘no, it’s her turn.’

I asked my question and Steve paused for few milliseconds (which I found interesting) and then said we have no plans for that kind of upgrade path.  He briefly explained that new models would reflect both technical and aesthetic design innovations.  Then the Q&A was over – everybody was told to pick up their press kits and we crowded out of the briefing room again.

Thinking back to that press conference, I felt a sense of elation for reasons that I still can’t explain. I had watched Steve Jobs on stage numerous times, and like many people, loved his presentation style.  But for a second, I had direct connection with a man I considered to be a genius.

So that’s my Steve story

How do you end a story like this? A man has been freed from physical suffering.  He left an important legacy, contributing ideas that made a huge impact on how we communicate, process and share information.

Maybe the best way is to refer back to Steve…for the last time…click here to listen to what Steve is saying.

This video of Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University is a thoughtful reminder to live our dreams. Steve talks candidly about his response to life’s setbacks — including death.