Thursday, October 06, 2011

iGrieve With Thee: Steve Jobs Dies at 56

(Image credit:

Steve Jobs has passed from this world, presumably a victim of the islet-cell neuroendocrine tumor he had fought for many years. The genius (and I don't use the term lightly) behind Apple Computer was a young 56 years of age.

FoxNews has a very complete biography here. It's hard to believe that this one man had such an impact on our day-to-day lives. Some have called him the 21st Century Edison, which may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but still is fitting.

Steve (we all feel like we knew him, although few of us ever got to meet him or work with him in person) was not so much an inventor as a perfecter. He actually invented none of the products we remember him for, but he made them accessible, usable, and sometimes even fun. The personal computer had been around for years in some form or another, but Steve (and his then-partner Steve Wozniak) distilled it into the Apple II, one of the first home computers that actually did something useful. Then came the Lisa, the first stab at a home computer with a graphic interface, which was met with less than stellar response. But in 1984 came the Mac, and the rest is history. 

The other iconic products from Apple were similarly perfected. The iPhone came well after various PalmOS, Symbia, and Windows smartphones, but Apple improved the experience to attract millions of users who would otherwise still be using RAZRs. (I won't get into the iOS vs. Android debate.) There were dozens of mp3 players out there before the iPod came along, but Apple now completely rules that space.

Apple had some rather spectacular failures as well. The Newton (of which I was an early adopter) never really worked as desired. Here's an article about the Newton and seven more Apple goofs. Anyone remember the Pippin?  At least I never succumbed to that one.

The recent release of the iPhone 4S, Steve's last imprint on Apple, shows that Apple still may not predict the market with perfect accuracy. The remake is really much more phenomenal than it originally seemed.  Better processor, better camera, more memory, better antenna system, and Siri, the latter of which in some ways brings to fruition some of the original magic conceived for the Newton projects.  See this video from 1987:

...and compare to today's Siri:

It only took about 25 years to bring this futuristic technology to the future.

But Apple is taking somewhat of a hit over what is really a significant upgrade...because users were expecting a new screen and new case. A 4 inch screen and a more streamlined case would have gotten big accolades; huge new tech innovations are getting a "meh". You can rest assured that the iPhone 5 will have a new form-factor, hopefully not introduced too late to smash the competition.  Personally, I'm satisfied with the iPhone 4 housing.  As Steve once said, it is "like a beautiful old Leica camera".

My friends (and even Mrs. Dalai) have asked me what I think will become of Apple now that Steve is gone. I'm hoping for the best, really. Steve must have left some documentation of how he thought things should work, and his hand-picked successor, Tim Cook, seems quite qualified to carry on the traditions. There are enough brilliant people working for Apple that I can't imagine it will founder much, if at all.  I have great faith in their people to carry on. You can rest assured that the motto for the foreseeable future will be:  "What Would Steve Do?"

Perhaps my greatest regret about Steve's untimely passing was voiced by AuntMinnie user Elegiac:
Imagine what he might have accomplished had he focused his creative energies on developing solutions for medical informatics. It is hard to imagine how much more productive we all would be if we used a unified and properly designed PACS/VR/RIS/EMR system created by people who placed value on an integrated work environment which just works. What could have been.
Indeed. PACS vendors take note.

A hat tip to Radio17 who reminds us on the AuntMinnie thread that 3D advanced imaging is one of Steve's Pixar legacies as well. From an ACR article about Elliot Fishman, M.D.:
The Brooklyn native (and Yankees fan) arrived at Hopkins in 1980, and by the mid-1980s, began working in 3-D medical imaging. He characterizes the state of the art back then as “pretty limited.” Looking around, Fishman approached and began partnering with Pixar Image Computers (and later, with Siemens), where a cadre of elite researchers was doing seminal work on computer visualization using ultra-fast proprietary computers. Fishman’s contribution was to help Pixar adapt its massively complex technology to the medical front. Ultimately, Pixar shifted its focus away from medical computing, but its groundbreaking work opened the door for a host of scientific revolutions. In time, Pixar would enjoy tremendous commercial (and critical) success making such movies as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Cars.

Recalling those halcyon years of around-the-clock work, Fishman says, “The people at Pixar were the smartest people I’ve ever worked with, anywhere. I’m talking 11 over 10 — just incredibly unbelievable.” But he reserves his warmest praise for Pixar CEO (and Apple Computer founder) Steven Jobs. “He is a remarkable visionary and also one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met.”

“One of the highlights of my career,” he continues, “was giving a named lecture at Stanford University. Steve came to my one o’clock lecture on 3-D imaging, which I’ll never forget. I figured I’d be speaking to radiologists, so even if I was wrong on some technical point, they might not know the difference. But with Steve there, I realized that if I made a mistake … ‘Oh, my God, if I say something wrong, he will definitely know.’”
Rest in peace, Steve.  You will be missed.


Nasal Drip said...

My condolences to Steve Jobs! Your legacy continues.

Sardonicus said...

Wow - that 87 video is interesting - we are almost there.

I have been surprised at the superficiality of the reviews, for the most part. I mean, really, being dismissive because the form isn't changed. They do make one point, though and that is that the upgrade to dual core is behind others. However, really, Apples strength is not raw processing power, but more how it is integrated, and I am intrigued by the Siri. It may be indispensible, or a parlor trick. Only using it will tell.

Oh, BTW - I had a Lisa, except it was called a Mac XL or something like that. It was a Lisa with a Mac OS, and 8K off the price, so it would sell, and they could get rid of their inventory.

Unknown said...

We miss you Steves........the healthcare might have been something else if he concentrated only on this sector. But watever he gave to world was worth...

Sinus Relief said...

True, what ever you have done, it all worth it.

sinus infections said...

Miss the the great inventor, may he rest in peace.