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Steve Jobs RIP

I grew up ‘arty’. I could draw. I was always going to art college. My life was always going to  take this route. There was never any question. 1984 brought us the release of the MacIntosh computer. The advert is iconic. I didn’t know at the time, just what impact it would make on my career.

I trained on manually creating design for print. I’ll give an example. Just to draw an accurate square box for print. Take a piece of graphic blue gridded (blue didn’t pick up on reprographic plate cameras) art paper. Take a technical pen with a defined pen nib width, with sold thick black ink. Take a ruler. Draw a line, holding the pen at the right angle – hoping the ink didn’t smudge under the ruler. Try and get the lines to meet accurately, making sure the line is dead straight and the same width. Take a look – to clear the smudge and make the corners tight – take a scapel (yes one of those things used in surgery) and scrape the marks away. All this just for a simple box.That’s an hour gone. At least.

If you needed a typeface beyond the standard of professional typesetters – that would be rubbed off a Letraset sheet. And you hoped it would ‘fix’ onto the art paper.

To visualise a page layout – take multi-colors marker pens – and do it all by hand.

In 1987 / 1988 a tiny beige unit appeared in the office. Just one. With a black and white screen. It could create text – perfectly. It drew an accurate box in a second.

The Mac didn’t give us the software to do this – Aldus, Adobe, Quark did that. It gave us the platform to be able to do this. Easily. And for every poster, leaflet, magazine, newspaper banner you will see today – it is the Mac that gives us the capability to create easily. I used PCs. It was a nightmare. Then I used Macs. And it gave me the ability to make things happen. The Mac is fundamental in truly changing the creative media industry – and for many years it was the main area that Apple ruled. They continue to rule it today.

Over the past decade, Apple have made us ‘Think Differently’ beyond just the creative world. The iPod took digital music to a different level – vinyl, CD and tape, firmly confined to the bin. Log on. Buy online.

The iMac – brought back the single unit computer, get it out of the box, plug it in and it worked. Today’s iMacs you have the power to edit films on.  Remarkable. At one stage you could only operate one piece of software at a time – design a layout in Quark, close it down, edit a photo in Photoshop, close it down, re-open Quark to insert said photo, close it down, create an icon in Illustrator, close it down, open up Quark insert said icon. And that was using a high end desktop Mac (now defined as their range as a MacPro).

Right now I using an iMac – I’m typing this up, I’m streaming the news via Firefox, Twitter is running, I’m charging my phone, linked to iTunes, and have at least 6 other pieces of software up running and open. And it’s all easily and beautifully done, so much so, we don’t even think about it now.

The iPad is still new. It’s still shiny. It still has a way to go. We wait for Apple to show us where it can go next.

The iPhone. Apple made computers. Not phones. But the iPhone revolutionised the mobile phone industry, it gave us the App Store – it gave us the ability to have an App that would navigate us through the London tube in real time. Ability to transfer files easily via Dropbox.

And Apple took on retail. Until the roll out of Apple stores, if your Mac went down it was shipped back to Holland. Via an Irish Call Centre. Mac Stores gave us the opportunity to go and play – get hands on. To experience. If your iPhone has a problem – just take it back to an Apple Store. 99% of the time – no questions asked – here –  have a new one. They make it easy. For you who have been into an Apple Store or brought a product online, the experience blows most other retail companies away, in ease, usability, navigation and just, experience.

I’m not a groupie – though many would say I am. I have an iMac, and iPod, an iPhone, an iPad. Which all work beautifully. Together. Having used Mac for over 20 years – I know how  Apple operate, not everything works first time, worth waiting for second, third generation before jumping, not every upgrade is really worth it. Apple haven’t always got it right, and while they may be one of the biggest companies in the world right now, they have at times, really struggled to survive.

Steve Jobs had the drive, the vision, the unique ability to change the world that surrounds us. He took elements, be it of hardware or software or concepts, and built and supplied products that changed the way the world operates. He opened the market, drove his competitors to compete, giving us ultimately a far better choice.

He gave us customer experience – not telling us that’s what you get – learn and deal with it – but thought about how we engage, that infective child-like enthusiasm for how things work, not only raising expectations, but giving us the potential of new and unique horizons, the ability to join the dots, without a 500 page manual, or a long list of the reasons it couldn’t be done.

And beyond this – he backed Pixar. Who gave us Toy Story. And took digital technology in film making ‘to infinity and beyond.’

He thought differently. He’s made the world think, then operate differently. He made customer experience central. He made beautiful design and functionality as important as any product concept. A true pied piper with a vision to match.
As a creative person I get this. I love the fact that he loved the detail in design and that he made sure Apple delivered it. On every level.

Steve Jobs. A true legend in my lifetime.

stevejobs_apple_6oct11

Listen to this Standford Speech from 2005. A fine, and moving, moment.