updated 10:30 pm EDT, Thu October 6, 2011
Industry mourns passing of an icon
More tributes remarking on the life and legacy of Apple Co-Founder and Chairman Steve Jobs have come in from several significant names in the tech world, including Dr. Tim Berners-Lee, widely credited with inventing the World Wide Web and the modern Internet; Adobe's president and founders; and Lee Clow, who worked closely with Jobs at Apple's long-time ad agency TBWA, and one of the people responsible for the company's groundbreaking "1984" Macintosh commercial.
From Berners-Lee: At a sad time at which the world has just lost Steve Jobs, it is well to reflect on some of the things which he, his passion, and his creations have given us, as now the technical community should take many of these upon its collective shoulders. A big thing Steve Jobs did for the world was to insist that computers could be usable rather than totally infuriating!
The NeXT was brilliant. The NeXT had (arguably too) many things introduced at once -- removable optical storage, Objective C, DSP for sound and movies, Mach kernel, unix for a PC, display Postscript, InterfaceBuilder and so on. Yes, they never got the price down and the optical disks proved unreliable. But Steve and NeXTStep ended up saving Apple, and there must be a lesson that it is worth hanging on to cool things: you never know when they will in fact become mainstream.
The NeXT box when I unwrapped it (in Sept 1990) had automatically set up for me as a naive user a unix mail account, which staggered the local unix gurus who normally had to help users of new unix boxes struggle with sendmail configuration files. In my default mailbox was an initial welcome multimedia email from Steve, including a Lip Service voice clip about his vision, including "It's not about Personal Computer .. it's about *Interpersonal* Computing". Exactly.
Programming the WorldWideWeb client was remarkably easy on the NeXT. There was already a software module, the Text Object, which was an editable multifont editor. I just had to subclass it to make a hypertext object, and add the internet code. Designing the app's menus was trivial -- just drag and drop with InterfaceBuilder. The code framework of the app was generated automatically. That is a platform: something which allows you to build things which without it would have been possible, but a lot of work.
We almost met once. There was a get-together of NeXT developers in France, and we set up demos at tables around the room. Robert Cailliau and I set up the WorldWideWeb.app on one table. Steve arrived, and started making his way around the tables chatting with each project. He didn't get to us before he had to leave.
Steve was a champion of usable technology - even sexy technology. Intuitive on the outside and extensible and cool engineering on the inside. The geeks among us need to be at the same time deeply insistent technically on beautiful, clean, extensible design inside, and utterly impatient as naive end users about the outside."
From Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen: "Steve was a unique visionary and his influence as a technology innovator will be sorely missed. This is a sad day for the entire industry, and we offer our deepest sympathy to his family."
From Adobe Co-Founders and Co-Chairmen John Warnock and Chuck Geschke: "We met Steve Jobs about 3 months after we started Adobe. He called us and said: 'I hear you guys are doing great things - can we meet?' He came over to our tiny office in Mountain View and saw the early stages of PostScript. He got the concept immediately and we started about 5 months of negotiations over our first contract. Apple invested $2.5 million into Adobe and gave us an advance on royalties. This allowed us to help Apple build the first LaserWriter.
Without Steve's vision and incredible willingness to take risk, Adobe would not be what it is today. We owe an enormous debt to Steve and his vision. We have always had great admiration and respect for Steve. The world is a better place because of him, and his absence will leave a huge hole in the world of technology. We will miss him greatly."
Lee Clow, who had a close relationship with Jobs in and out of the working relationship that gave the company many classic ads, had this to say in tribute in a memo distrubted to the employees of Media Arts Lab, the parent company of TBWA. It is written in a style reminiscent of the "Crazy Ones" ad that Jobs narrated shortly after becoming CEO of Apple for the second time, and which itself is regarded as an advertising classic: "As you all know by now, yesterday we lost Steve Jobs.
He was the most amazing person I have ever known.
He was a genius.
He was an innovator.
He was the best client we ever had.
He was my friend.
To work with him, to share his vision, to share his passion, to be trusted by him with his ideas, is one of the great honors that we all have been able to share.
We who worked with him every day will miss him.
We who worked for him but never met him will miss him.
We who work for TBWA but never worked on Apple will miss him.
What Steve Jobs did was simply make everything and everyone better.
I will miss him."