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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011: A Man I Did Not Know

Most of us hope to live a life in which we are loved, a life in which we matter and finally, a life after which, we will be remembered. I did not know Steve Jobs, but I can safely say that he has led such a life. This man I did not know has profoundly enhanced the quality of my life. I am disabled and his genius brings me the world every day. By computer, by phone, I am connected.
Last weekend, my seventeen-year old son insisted I sell my three-year old Macbook and replace it with a Macbook Air because it is so much lighter and easier for me to manage. I have my life organized on my iPhone and FaceTime let's me visit my children who have scattered to the winds whenever they agree to it. Steve Job's imagination intersects with my life all the time.
My first job out of college was working for a financial consulting company that specialized in performing reimbursement analyses for hospitals in the Northeast. We used "sophisticated" computer-modeling on a mainframe that was housed in a separate building. The building had huge air-conditioners in order to cool the room in which the computer worked its magic. It was the off-spring of a University of Massachusetts project put to good use. We heard someday, computers would fit in our briefcases, but it was hard to believe.
Five years later, I had a job training Silicone Valley executives on principles of leadership and communication. The seismic shift between dial up modems and the room-sized monsters to which I was accustomed and these new computers they were building was hard to digest. I inched along with the rest of the world on my p.c., wondering about the future.
Inadvertently, I learned about Macs after a brilliant computer designer from Washington state came and stayed at my house for a couple of weeks while his mother, my next-door neighbor, died. This man, often homeless, would pick up work troubleshooting at Fortune 500 companies when their computer systems crashed. He would earn buckets of money, live on it until it ran out, then repeat the process. He told stories of working with this guy from his I had never heard of. He told me to write down these names. " STEVE JOBS and STEVE WOZNIAK.. Trust me, we worked together on some projects in the late 70's. You will hear his name a lot soon enough. You wouldn't believe what Steve Jobs is doing…." then my guest launched into a language I couldn't possibly profess to understand, particularly while manning the chaos of three children under five. In retrospect, I feel like I had an oracle in my house.
Steve Jobs came home to me through my son. Since he has been eleven, my son stretch out on his bed, lying on his stomach, reading daily Apple.com updates. He teases me about my former habit of reading the dictionary. Little does he know his kids will probably tease him about his intense study and knowledge of all things Apple. He has been getting to the point that he can predict product direction and marketing strategy. Tonight, my son came in to my room and told me Steve Jobs died.
"Mom, I can't believe it. He was my inspiration."
So Steve Jobs has found his way into my life on many levels. I did not know Steve Jobs, but his life has mattered to me, and he will be remembered.

Dawn Elise Evans

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