Oct 182011
Authors: Matt Miller

For nearly two weeks, the apple.com home page has been a single black and white image of their late founder Steve Jobs. Not a day has gone by since his Oct. 5 death that a new tribute or article hasn’t been written on the man delving into his life and debating his legacy. So I ask when this picture comes down and the company moves on, how will our generation –– the generation that has arguably been shaped by him the most –– remember him?

He was a programmer, not Mother Teresa; a computer nerd, not Gandhi. He was a product of the ‘60s counterculture and more like many of our own parents –– with his own successes and failures –– rather than Leonardo da Vinci.

And it was with this human connection that he was able to tap into what we need from technology.
In 1984 during Super Bowl XVII, Apple ran what has been hailed as one of the greatest commercials of all time.

It showed a dystopian society in which a woman in white uses a hammer to destroy a “Big Brother” figure speaking to a drone-like audience. At the end of the commercial, words appear which read, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”

In a fashion we have come to expect from Jobs, Apple promised to bring us the future.

But, a year following this Orwellian message, Jobs was fired as Apple CEO, and what followed was a series of ups and downs for the company, resulting in its eventual bailout by Microsoft.

It wasn’t until 1997 that Jobs returned to Apple and made good on this promise to destroy our preconceptions of technology. Since 1997, Jobs led Apple in the creation of iTunes, the iPod, the iPad and the iPhone –– all of which have become the basis for our iGeneration.

Glorifying a corporation sounds wrong, but in terms of functionality and design, Jobs has propelled us technologically into places only dreamed of in science fiction.

He knew what we wanted in technology better than we knew ourselves. The clean, attractive design Jobs envisioned enabled Apple products to become deeply entwined into our culture today.

On Sunday, a memorial service was held for Jobs at Stanford University, where celebrities, family, artists, politicians and Silicone Valley’s elite gathered to celebrate his life.

Similarly, Apple is holding a company-wide celebration Wednesday, and surely once again, Jobs’s impact and legacy will be discussed.

Like they promised in 1984, Jobs and Apple brought us a future of touch screens and tablets. I, along with much of my generation, have been raised on iTunes and iPods –– we are the iGeneration.

But Jobs also had his failures: He dropped out of college, he was fired as Apple’s CEO, he made Apple Lisa and the Power Mac G4 Cube and he was human.

When that picture of Jobs comes down from apple.com, it’s hard to say how he will be remembered: as a genius, an inventor, a philosopher or a guy who was good at getting us to buy things.

Maybe someday we will tell our kids about where we were when Jobs died. For me, I was in class reading about it on my iPhone. Or maybe without Jobs, Apple won’t have the innovation it has become known for. So when our kids don’t know who the heck he is we will tell them about the man who gave our generation everything we wanted.

We will remember him as the father of what our iGeneration is today –– earbuds in every ear. And if the Apple and Jobs legacy does not continue to subsequent generations, someone else will build on his ideas and continue to innovate.

What we do know is without him, 2011 wouldn’t be like 2011.

News editor Matt Miller is a junior journalism major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. You can follow him on Twitter Official_MattM or send letters and feedback to letterscollegian.com.

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