OK, I have had time to ponder Steve, and I'm here only to put thoughts in writing
There are lots of visionaries in the tech world. Lots of people who have amazing ideas about where technology is going, or where it needs to go. It's not hard to deny that Steve was special, but for many, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why.
After some thought, I have concluded that Steve's vision was not amazing because of how often he was right, but because of his passion about everything that he did. While he brought great innovations to the masses, his claim to fame is that he repeatedly bet the farm on them, and busted balls to see them happen.
Off the top of my head I can think of so many big things, and so many little things, that just had him written all over. In no particular order, here is a random selection of innovations both big and small, that are clearly "Jobs" things, including stuff we may have forgotten.
- GUI computing. Its origin has been discussed to death - it was the invention of Xerox. Whether Microsoft copied Apple or Xerox is irrelevant - Steve believed it was the most important thing for Apple to move towards, to the point of getting himself fired by the very stuffy, ignorant CEO he had hired. And Microsoft's products didn't even begin to approach the intuitiveness of the Mac until long after that happened.
- The first iPod demonstrated that MP3 players were ready for non-nerds. It had a convenient form factor and responsive UI. Its built-in battery charged while it plugged into the computer. No weird counterintuitive software was required to copy music to it. It sounded great. It was comfortable to hold and operate with one hand. It proved to the world at large that functionally equivalent (or superior) products have no value if they are shittily designed. It also proved that Apple could make more than just computers.
- Introduced as a trademark "One More Thing" during one of his keynotes, the PowerBook G4 was probably the most drool-inducing computer ever. This thing left all competing laptops in the dust - yes its wickedly fast G4/400 processor and discrete GPU were cool by themselves, but this freak of nature brought far more to the table: it was lightweight, only 1 inch thin, all-titanium construction, widescreen (never before seen in mainstream computing), and had amazing battery life. Technology has since made that machine obsolete (big surprise), but so many of its innovations live on in the computers we use today.
(To digress just a little, the Titanium Powerbook G4 was, as far as I know, the first device to feature an auto-sensing ethernet port, so you no longer needed to worry about whether you had a crossover cable when you simply wanted to connect it to another computer. I imagine Jobs with a prototype TiBook in his office, trying to copy files from his desktop using a straight-through ethernet cable. It doesn't work, it pisses him off, so he calls up an engineer and says "fix this in by tomorrow or find another job")
- While on the topic of laptops, the first G3 iBook laptop was the first ever computer to offer wireless networking. It was one of many emerging standards that Apple embraced under Steve's command, including...
- USB on the iMac. Get rid of (almost) every other fucking connector. Jobs sees USB as the connectivity of the future, and the iMac as the future of the Mac. That powerful-enough computer did away with everything we thought we needed, including serial ports and a floppy drive. It was the first Mac in years with no SCSI. But it was more than that
- The radical lines and colours of the iMac marked a new direction for Apple, who would go on to push the envelope of industrial design with each new product they would go on to introduce. The next Power Macs would gain colour as well, but a simple latching door on the side suddenly made Apple's tower the envy of all hardware nerds who previously couldn't grasp expanding or repairing their computers without a screwdriver and a box of band-aids. Apple demonstrated that great design is here to stay, and today other computer makers continue to play catch-up.
- The G4 Cube, while overpriced, was clearly a Jobs-led hardware design. Although overpriced, it was the first passively-cooled computer with the performance of a modern desktop.
- The iPhone was the first handheld phone with a real web browser. It was also the first available commercial device with a multi-touch screen, and nobody saw that coming
- Apple was the first company to ship a mouse with a computer. Just think about that for a minute.
- The transition from PowerPC to Intel was as painless as it could have possibly been. Apple dropped support for PowerPC software (via Rosetta) in its last OS release. The timing was perfect
Every time technology was getting boring, you somehow managed to shake things up and stick a new twist on things. You put such conviction behind it, and took so many risks that many people mujst have thought you were crazy. Well
"Here's to the crazy ones".
I truly believe you are an impossible act to follow.
Rest in Peace, Steve.