RIDE ONWARD MR. JOBS
I have never mourned the death of a corporate CEO that I hand't met... until now. The passing of Steve Jobs last week at 56 years old, on the heels of Apple's new iPhone announcement, seemed abrupt and darkly unexpected. He had officially resigned as CEO on August 24, a sign that the pancreatic cancer that he had been staving off since his diagnosis seven years ago, had resurfaced with a vengeance.
Jobs was a fiercely untraditional corporate mogul. A confessed pot-smoker and experimenter with LSD in his college days, he dropped out of Reed in 1972 to bum around Portland for 18 months, auditing classes before traveling to an Indian ashram and returning to the states as a Buddhist. His roots in eastern religion, counterculture and drug experimentation fueled an "out of the box" visionary mentality that catapulted him to champion the Apple computer he and Steve Wozniak built in his parent's garage into a global technology movement.
To say the Apple computer has affected my life would be a gross understatement. It was 1983 when I first became aware of a computer called Macintosh. I was nine years old and would often be dropped by carpool at Caldwell's, my grandparent's clothing store, where I was expected to break ground on my homework until the store closed at 6 pm and my mother would drive us home. A small upstart retail computer store called AC3 Computing appeared in the shopping center that year and they were dedicated to Apple computers and their flagship Macintosh II and III computer. I can still smell the fresh blue carpet and see the walls decorated with plastic banners of Apple's then rainbow logo. After curiously poking my head in there one day, I soon became a regular... the kid who would come in and start gaming on one of the demo machines. My grandfather would eventually come retrieve me and apologize that I had "worn out my welcome," but none of the employees seemed to mind. "That's why they're here," I recall one of them saying as my grandfather ushered me out, bribing me with Jolly Ranchers.
I have now personally owned or worked on more than a dozen Apple computers since I used my financial aid to purchase my very own Powerbook 145 during my freshman year at Trinity College in 1992. With the exception of the Commodore 64 that I used in high school and the eight months at the Nantucket Beacon that we used PCs, I've been an Apple loyalist, a devotee, a drinker of the Kool-Aid. I actually have an Apple sticker on my car where it shares space with a BMW motorcycle sticker. My friend "Into the Drink" television host Nick Lucey and I would often joke during our time on staff at Scuba Diving magazine that Apple was an irreverent cult and we were a proud part of it.
There are a number of exceptional images of the man who pioneered the unfashionable, yet simple, jeans and black long sleeve t-shirt look. Although I have a great affinity for the Albert Watson 4x5 portrait of Jobs that Apple.com posted on their site on the day of Steve's passing, I will always love the National Geographic image of Jobs blasting around Silicon Valley on his 1966 BMW R60/2 motorcycle. Wind-streaked long hair, beard, and cowboy boots, he is blazing with great speed and intensity on his way to a meeting, likely leading the charge for a new innovation. Ride onward Mr. Jobs. You will be missed.
Photo appears courtesy of Motorcycle Photo of the Day and PetaPixel.