10/10/2011: Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

As tributes to the co-founder of Apple continue to pour in, I thought I'd make a contribution.

Although Steve Jobs didn't have any direct influence on the Apple IIGS, his focus having been the Macintosh up until his well publicised ousting and resignation in 1985, our favourite Apple II still owes much to Jobs.

Obviously, it was Jobs and Woz who saw the original Apple II and the company itself to fruition in 1977. But one of the real flourishes of the IIGS can be attributed to one of Jobs actions in 1982, bringing in Frog Design, a European industrial design group whose modern style was exactly the attention to detail Jobs was looking for in creating ‘insanely great' products. Creating a range of studies as to how the future of computers might look, including tablets, the ‘Snow White' design language evolved and first was used on the Apple IIc. The IIGS was next to receive this styling, although substituting the white of the IIc with the neutral but warm ‘platinum' colour, which would remain with the Macintosh until the release of the iMac. The look of the IIGS was finalised by its unique hammerhead shark design with detached keyboard.

The other major benefit to the IIGS that derived from Jobs and the work of the Macintosh team was of course the graphical user interface they developed, now rendered in colour for the first time on the IIGS, as well as the toolbox, which allowed developers easy ways to take advantage of the GUI.

On a personal note, I've found it hard not to feel admiration for Jobs. We should never forget that Jobs has worked with incredible collaborators, from Steven Wozniak to Jonathan Ive and without them Apple would not have flourished. But what Jobs has done in his career is quite remarkable and why he is credited as a huge influence in the way technology has developed is well deserved.

It's certainly been true that Jobs' passing has made for some interesting discussion as to his merits or otherwise. The interesting thing is that if Jobs were still alive to read what everyone was saying about him, I doubt he'd care anyway. You can't make everybody happy, and this certainly is true of his customers and the people he worked with. But his unflinching focus remained on wanting to see computer products that would be smaller, easier to use and reveal more and more uses for everyday life certainly has changed technology for the better, allowing a much wider and broader audience to enjoy the possibilities of a digital world.

I think he needs to be more recognised for being able to cut through the bullshit of people in suits: of striving to bring better products to market instead of playing things safe, yet still playing within the rules and making deals with the music, film and software industries. It's a far more reaching and holistic view of designing products and the end result is and has been that Apple has always made more interesting products than its competitors and that's what the praise for Jobs should really be about. It's a hell of a legacy.

On another personal note, Jobs lost his life to pancreatic cancer, which was how my family lost our mother a little over 2 years ago. It is one of the most insidious forms of cancer and my heart goes out to all those who knew Steve personally.