The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
I’m a PC.
Today, my computers are PCs, my phone is an Android and my mp3 player is not an iPod, and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything with those choices.
But it would be stupid for me or anyone else to say we are not working and computing in the world Steve Jobs created. None of those devices I use bear an iconic Apple logo, but all of them contain vast inspiration from Macs, iPods and iPhones, which sprang from the mind of Jobs, who died way too young Wednesday at 56.
There were days when the differences between Macs and PCs were vast, and it was clear: PCs were for work, Macs were for creating.
I have to smile everytime I hear Jobs obituaries mention the fact that the Mac was invented in a garage, the birthplace things like bands, as opposed to a lab. Jobs stories also state in amazement that even his competitors are paying tribute to him. But they know what they owe Jobs.
My first encounter with a Mac was at my college paper, Old Dominion University’s Mace & Crown.
It was a near spiritual event when the first Mac entered our office and was enshrined at our lead page designer’s desk. It had this vertical screen where the images actually looked like what we were working on and this amazing little device called a mouse that let us freely move around the page. It was Deb’s machine, but all of us snuck over and played with it.
And our work improved because of that play.
A year later, all section editors at the Mace had Macs on our desks, and Jobs’ creation had completely transformed how the paper looked and how we put it together.
It was time for the IBM-based PCs to start playing catch-up, and it would not be the last time Jobs moved the bar way ahead for the rest of the creative world.
Film animation was a children’s niche until Jobs’ Pixar dazzled us with Toy Story in 1995. Now animation is a giant genre for viewers of all ages.
Music struggled to come to grips with the digital age until Jobs brought us the iPod and iTunes. OK, it still struggles. But musicians probably owe the fact that they still make any money from their recordings to Jobs’ innovations.
And a cellphone was just a phone until Jobs brought us the iPhone. When a friend was showing me his version of the cell phone I now use, he joked, “Oh, it works great as a phone, too,” a tribute to Jobs’ vision for what the little devices were capable of. I also joked with friends urging me to get an iPhone, “I’m not sure I want to join your cult.”
But the truth is the cell industry wouldn’t have had to invent Android if Apple had not produced the iPhone.
That the creative culture is now so important in discussions of business and economic development owes a tremendous amount to Jobs highlighting the value of creativity, design and accessibility.
The death of anyone so young as sad, and Jobs passing the day after Apple’s first post-Jobs product announcement was such a letdown is sobering.
Our world needed Steve Jobs, and it needs more people like him.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich