December 16, 2008

I Will Teach My Children About Steve Jobs

Teach Your Children the Way of The Apple Early
(Picture of Sarah Getting to Sleep Tonight)

If I ever had a chance to hear John F Kennedy give a speech, I would go. If I could see Michael Jordan in his prime, I would go to that game. If I ever had a chance to see Henry Ford at his assembly line building Model T's, I would go. If I could have seen the first moon landing on television, I would watch. And if I could see Michaelangelo sculpt, I would pull up a chair.

But I have seen Steve Jobs do a MacWorld Keynote. And it, like the others mentioned, was delivered by a person unequaled in his craft, who, like the others, will one day be a part of the past, echoed only through our media records, and through tales passed one to another. For whether you are a Mac addict, a tech geek, or finance nerd or even a luddite, you know Steve Jobs has the ability to deliver product introductions and change the technology industry like nobody else. Not Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison or Scott McNealy, Eric Schmidt or John Chambers, could play the equal to Steve Jobs on stage when the spotlight was on. And I saw one.

I saw my first (and only) Steve Jobs keynote at the 2001 MacWorld Expo. After an early morning spent taking the CalTrain north from the Peninsula, I saw the debut of the company's Titanium PowerBooks, iTunes and iDVD, as part of a large audience who "ooed and aahed" at the demo of Alias Wavefront's Maya software, and sat through our share of brainwashing around "The Megahertz Myth". My e-mail home to my dad from January 10, 2001 reminds me of our reaction:
"The Maya demo was excellent and had the entire auditorium oohing and aahing. Not seeing Maya previously, I found it amazingly solid and breath-taking, as much as any 3rd-party presentation I've seen at a similar show.

The announcements of iTunes and iDVD were enjoyed thoroughly by all. The iTunes demo was well displayed, although Steve seemed a bit enamored of the B-52's LoveShack too much for his own good. Also, the iTunes visuals smacked of SoundJam, and I was surprised not to hear any mention of any acquisition."
Outside of the MacWorld Expo, I actually have met Steve Jobs on one other occasion, when I bumped into him at the Apple Store in Palo Alto. Amusingly, I remember asking him a support question about the first generation iPod, and him getting it right.

While Steve Jobs is not only still alive and kicking, maintaining his CEO role at Apple, today's well-reported announcement that he will not be participating in MacWorld 2009, or any future MacWorld, has many thinking about the past, and what this means for his future, as well as that of the Cupertino company. I had given serious thought to attending MacWorld myself this year, in fact, but upon this news, will now most certainly pass.

But I know one thing - I once had the opportunity to see somebody on the top of their craft do what they do best, and I will be able to tell my kids (and theirs): "I saw Steve Jobs do a MacWorld Expo Keynote". And when they ask for the details, I'll tell the story again and again.