Steve Jobs and the beginning of the end of an era

5 10 2011

For anyone reading this, a personal computer isn’t likely a thing of wonder. At best, it’s an entertainment and communication portal; at worst, it’s a tool of drudgery, an efficiency-maximizing appliance.

But it didn’t used to be that way. Though I can scarcely remember a time when personal computers weren’t a part of daily life, it wasn’t long ago that that million-dollar mainframes with the computational capacity of a calculator were an individual’s sole point of contact with the digital world.

We can thanks the likes of Steve Jobs for incredible, lightning-fast transformation of the computer from an inaccessible monolith to an affordable, approachable consumer good. I’m not the best person to eulogize Jobs, and I’ll leave it up to others with a better grasp on technology to discuss his accomplishments or his storied involvement with Apple.

Instead, sitting here with my aging but reliable MacBook Pro on my lap, I can’t help but think of Jobs’ passing as a sort of bookend for a remarkable era – the era of digitization. Or rather, one of many bookends to come. Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and their fellow digital pioneers are still with us, but some day they too will join Ford, Edison, and now Jobs in the pantheon of innovators who have made our advanced way of life a reality.

Polarizing as Jobs could be, he was a genius, and the loss of a genius calls for reflection. As you read this on the screen of your computer or web-enabled portable device, pause for a moment and think of how far the contributions of one brilliant man – Steve Jobs – went towards making it all possible.

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