I once had lunch with Jobs at an excellent Japanese restaurant in Beverly Hills. He wore his trademark black turtleneck and jeans; he was serious, accessible. We talked about Pixar, which he also deserves credit for. Sadly, Jobs has died at age 56 of pancreatic cancer, which he had been fighting since 2004.
Our lunch was more than 15 years ago, after Jobs had left Apple in 1985 and was running Pixar, which he had bought for $10 million from George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic, which yielded Toy Story and made him rich. In 1996, Jobs went back to the floundering Apple and turned the small computer company around with such well-designed, consumer-friendly products as the iMac, iBook, iPod, Macbook Air, iPhone and most recently, iPad. Jobs bucked the entire music industry, before it saw where it was heading, when he launched a radical new paradigm for legal music downloads, iTunes, which he also applied to video content. Jobs had his name on 317 patents.
After years of squabbling with Disney chief Michael Eisner over distribution terms on Pixar movies, Jobs later sold the hitmaker to Disney, which welcomed him to the board and brought in Ed Catmull and John Lasseter to run their animation unit. Pixar turned out to be better at making animated features than the mighty Mouse House. Disney president Bob Iger said: “Steve was such an ‘original,’ with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era.”
Wednesday Apple replaced their homepage product photos with a headshot of Jobs– inviting visitors to submit their memories to firstname.lastname@example.org–and posted a statement:
Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.
Here’s Apple CEO Tim Cook’s email to the staff:
I have some very sad news to share with all of you. Steve passed away earlier today.
Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.
We are planning a celebration of Steve’s extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences in the interim, you can simply email email@example.com.
No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.
Here’s Bill Gates:
Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to Steve Jobs’ family & friends. The world rarely sees someone who made such a profound impact.
And Steven Spielberg: “Steve Jobs was the greatest inventor since Thomas Edison. He put the world at our fingertips.”
And Mark Zuckerberg on his Facebook page: “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”
Here’s PaidContent, the NYT, and Variety, which tracks his impact on Hollywood, Wired, Google’s Sergei Brin, CNN, Newsweek, Boing Boing, which designed their site to resemble the design of the original Macintosh; even WSJ.com devoted its entire homepage to Jobs. As Indianapolis Star reporter John Russell’s facebook page wrote: “iSad.”
[Top photo courtesy of AP.]