I was on my way home from work when my wife sent me a text, asking me about my opinion about the resignation of Steve Jobs as CEO from Apple. I nearly fell out of my seat (fortunately I was on the bus at the time). I didn't think it was possible, as I have always equated Steve Jobs with Apple, and vice versa. I quickly looked for the headlines (it didn't take long), and read the article in the San Jose Mercury News. I never once thought about the Company, as I have always said if Steve Jobs left Apple there would be plenty of skilled, talented geniuses working at Apple to take his place. Instead, knowing that he has battled cancer for years, I was concerned for Steve.
But why would I care so much about a CEO of a company that I've never met, and only seen at a distance once (he was surrounded by his entourage, as it was just before Apple announced the iPhone). I don't work for Apple, so he doesn't directly effect me. No, I was concerned because of the impact he has made on my life. Not just because I'm an Apple user, but because of why I'm an Apple user.
I used to hate Macs. I couldn't stand using OS 9 and all it's buggy quirks. Nope, I was a Linux user, quite used to having to compile the software myself if I wanted it, or writing a script that would do the job for me. Then Mac OS X was announced, and we got a copy in our Mac lab for the new G3 iMac. I opened it, immediately found Terminal, and was hooked. Here was a platform that gave me my UNIX console and commands, but I could buy commercial software (i.e., games like Warcraft 3) and not have to worry about hacking it to get it to work. This, for me, was a huge turning point.
Since then I have been an advocate for the Mac, and I've loved it's user-friendly concepts. Everyone I've encountered that has been intimidated by the Mac has been won over (with a few stubborn people who like to wrestle with their chosen OS). Either it's because of the ease of use iPhoto makes of scrapbooking (which converted my wife), or the simple way Garageband provides music mixing and composing. Sure, there are other programs out there, but none as simple or easy to use. And when Apple started this road, I had always wanted them to do one thing: release a PDA.
At the time I had put up with the Pocket PC, and even flirted with Familar OS and other Embedded Linux distributions, but nothing that felt right. In fact, I often found myself leaving the platform regularly, or leaving the Pocket PC sitting at home, quietly charging. Then I would stop using it, and look for other answers. Why? Because it was so complicated to use. It didn't feel like a useful tool. That's why I wanted Apple to release something the minute I heard the rumor of the iWalk. I wanted to see what Apple would do with it. Unfortunately, it was just a rumor and the product never came out, but something even better came later that literally changed my life: the iPhone.
While I never owned the first iPhone, but once apps were being developed, and I learned that my son was diagnosed with Autism, it quickly became the device I had wanted in a long time. It let the app take over the screen, it let my finger be the stylus (replacing the often broken or lost stylus of my Pocket PC), and it was very easy to use. Soon the Autism community started releasing tons of apps for those on the Spectrum, and the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad have all found a place in my home. My kids love it, my 2 year old learned to spell with it, and my son with Autism uses it to explore his education in a new and exciting way.
I had a chance to thank one of the masterminds, Scott Forstall, for the iPhone and it's sister products. But I've never had a chance to thank Steve or the others involved in the product. So Steve, I hope you get this, but from a father of children on the Spectrum, thank you for having the vision that has brought so much to so many. You will be missed, and I hope all is well.