Remembering Steve Jobs, the magician

In 1962, Arthur Clarke wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Magic: That’s what Steve Jobs gave the world. He had the vision to not only develop dazzlingly advanced technology—but to also make it sleek and elegant and a joy to use. And in the process, Steve Jobs changed the world.

Millions of words have been written about Steve Jobs over the years, I’m sure. But the words that most spoke to me this morning were his own, taken from his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Some people will remember Steve Jobs as a gifted programmer, a brilliant marketer, or a driven businessman. I will remember him as a magician—a wizard whose technology really is indistinguishable from magic.

To read more: Visit BBC.com’s wonderful retrospective of his life and the New York Times’ engaging interactive timeline. Prefer to write your own tribute? Go to http://www.apple.com and click on Steve’s image.

8 comments

  1. Great article. Steve will go down in history for his creative thinking and visionary/futuristic mindset for technology. R.I.P. I think Apple will make him continue to make him proud.

  2. It’s not surprising that humans have a propensity to go to war because time and again we divide outselves into passionate advocates of opposing ideas. For example, VHS and Betamax (and we all know who won that war!), VW Beetle and every other small car, manual and automatic transmission, and of course Mac and PC. I’ve only ever used a Mac once, 20 years ago, and that was because I was asked at work to evaluate it. But I couldn’t get used to the fact that it only had one mouse button. I kept trying to right-click when I couldn’t. It felt as though I was driving an automatic (as opposed to a proper car). But regardless of my personal prejudices, I believe Steve Jobs was a genius, on several levels, and my admiration for him has no boundaries. He will be missed.

    • Your kind thoughts mean all the more, knowing that you’re not an Apple fanboy. You’re right, of course: Steve Jobs was a genius on several levels. I wish I’d had the opportunity to know him … although I suppose I’ve come close enough by using several of the products of his imagination over the years. (And for the record, you *can* right-click on a Mac by pressing the “control” button as you click your mouse. And they really have evolved significantly over the past 20 years. But I’m not about to start a war by dividing us into passionate advocates of opposing ideas. Grin.)

      Also loved your bias against automatic-transmission cars, by the way …

    • Thanks, Ed! It’s impossible to properly eulogize someone as brilliant (and complex) as Steve Jobs, but it seemed fitting to try anyway. Thanks for stopping by.

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