A common Tweet and message board posting (originating, I believe, with comedian Patton Oswalt) I saw last night when the news of Steve Jobs' passing was announced was: "RIP Steve Jobs. Closest thing we had to Tony Stark." And it's true -- just as the comic book character Stark radically shaped the look and technology of the Marvel Universe, the work of Apple co-founder Jobs has made a lasting impact on almost every impact on our lives. Items that would have been the domain of mere science fiction -- a slim, compact phone that lets you surf the Internet and a tablet with a touch-screen -- have now become commonplace facts of life, used not just by techies and "early adopters" but by the public as a whole.
But the legacy of Jobs does not end with his technological advances. The very look and style of Apple products and advertising -- clean, simple, and elegant -- has influenced everything from interior design to fashion, creating a mix of Zen meets the Space Age. The leadership style of Jobs and his business philosophy has also been very iconic and influential -- focusing on the Message first and building everything around that central point. And that Message was all about demystifying new technology and making it accessible to the People -- personal computers were no longer the domain of the highly-trained tech whiz, but could be used easily by everyone.
Steve Jobs, along with co-founder Steve Wozniak, launched Apple in the 1970s, but one could say that the Age of Apple really began with the unveiling of the Macintosh in 1984:
Ironically, Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985 -- only to form his own company NeXT Computer and buy The Graphics Group (later called Pixar) from Lucasfilm in 1986. After revolutionizing the animation industry, Jobs made a triumphant return to Apple in 1995, paving the way for new products that would literally revolutionize the world such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad:
While the loss of Jobs is a tragedy, his influence will be around forever -- inspiring, no doubt, generations of young innovators to come.