Steve Jobs, 2015

little avatarToday is the anniversary of Steve Jobs’ birthday. I never thought I’d be in the world without Steve Jobs. Yet Steve Jobs is as alive to me today as he was when he was an earthling. I know that probably sounds odd. Sometimes I stare at the desktop picture and I think I see Steve Jobs’ face blurred in the rock (Yosemite #2). I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it, but I imagine I’m not the only one. In fact I imagine that someone inside Apple made it so with intention.

Sometimes I think I am keeping an eye on Apple for Steve Jobs. Other times I think Steve Jobs lends me his eyes to help me understand something about what Apple is doing.

I met someone a few months ago. When I learned that he used an Apple computer, and an iPad which I did not recognize at first because it was in a case with a little keyboard attached, Apple and Steve Jobs became our primary overlapping interest. It was mostly me who talked about Steve Jobs. I saw this person again recently. He was with a friend. When he introduced us, he called me Steve. It was better to be remembered for remembering Steve Jobs, I thought, than to be known by my own name to a stranger-acquaintance to whom it would have meant nothing.

In 2012 I met a young man who used an Apple laptop. He didn’t know who Steve Jobs was. After I told him, he watched the Stanford speech and became a fan. He also watched the 2012 keynote. I had not watched it at the time, I thought I could not bear to watch a keynote without Steve Jobs. The young man said, “but the new guy,” and he mimed a hunchback (English wasn’t his first language).

I watched the keynote after that. I laughed and thought, “yes, they all look like they could use some yoga or chiropractic work or something.” During the part about Siri and the sport scores, I could only think of Steve Jobs saying, “but I don’t know anyone who watches the Superbowl.”

Another time I watched someone working and using an iPhone at the same time. He used the flashlight and the phone while he worked with his hands. I asked him what his favorite apps were. Between jobs he said he listened to music. What else? NFL, which he said he played with his son, and Candy Crush. I have no idea what either of those things do.

The young man with the Apple laptop occasionally asked me for help using his computer. His computer was newer than the one I had at the time. While showing him something I said I liked how his trackpad worked. He said it was adjustable in System Preferences. I tried to tell him that this was something introduced in newer Apple computers. He insisted on showing me. I let him see System Preferences on my computer to show him that the “natural scrolling” option wasn’t there.

Then he asked, “Where’s your dock?”

I showed him. “Slides up. Adjustable in System Preferences.”

One day he didn’t have the computer with him anymore. Turned out that it was a stolen laptop. He told me he purchased it used from an online store whose name I won’t mention. Later he offered me ten dollars if I could get him iOS7 for his old iPhone. I told him I couldn’t even if I could. It was about two weeks before the official release and people were paying the $99 developer fee to get it a little early.

For the first few years after the Apple Stores opened, they were the places I went to watch Apple keynotes. I will tell you about one of these trips.

In 2004 I was around 125 miles from the closest Apple Store. I would not miss it. I drove the 125 miles to the store, got there early, and staked out the best Mac and biggest screen that I would set up to watch the keynote. I explained what I was doing to the staff person who approached. I was always surprised at how blase´ they were about the keynotes – at the time anyway. I got the computer set up ready to receive the streaming QuickTime video from Apple. Since I was early, I wandered a bit from the keynote computer to look at other things in the store.

A man came in and sat smack in front of the computer. I told him I’d set it up to watch the keynote. He had come in to do the same thing. But he stayed in the seat right in front of the monitor as if he was the only one there. More people gathered around. I think someone moved the monitor about an inch from where it was. This Apple store was close to an airport and people who had layover time had come in to watch the keynote too. There was a little crowd of us watching. This was the keynote when Steve introduced Garageband. I held back tears as he talked about it.

I’d been playing with this technology from the day I discovered QuickTime and the option key, before Final Cut Pro which came out in 1999. I sometimes thought of Final Cut Pro as QuickTime with a database. Then there was iTunes in 2001, and now Garageband in 2004. In the mid to late 90’s there was a job posting on Apple’s website for a QuickTime Evangelist. It did not say Evangelist – I still have a copy of it – that’s the way I thought of it. I wanted that job. I wanted to be the Guy Kawasaki of QuickTime. But I always thought I didn’t have enough of a technical background to be hired for it.

In early 2001 I was in a workshop where one of the presenters said, “Whoever comes up with the best jukebox for the computer wins.” How could they have not known? iTunes had just been announced. They taught us how to make an MTV-style video in QuickTime. It could have been done it in half the time in Final Cut Pro instead of coding directly in QuickTime.

I know it’s not QuickTime anymore (it’s AV Foundation), but all these, plus Keynote, and HTML5 with javascript, are its descendants. In 2000 I thought that the future browser would be made with QuickTime – it could do chat, render web pages, access a database, and stream media. What more could you want? Oh, track users behavior? I forgot about that.

After Steve Jobs passed, people loaded the internet with photos, stories, magazine articles, and summaries of magazine articles. Many of these were not new and I had seen or read most of these before. My attention lingered on two photos of Steve Jobs. They were small photos, not taken at the same time, or same year, but they were taken from different angles. I could guess at the year they were taken. One of them had the NeXt logo in the background. And there were two photos someone had taken of me. They were taken on the same day, but from different angles, the same two angles as the photos of Steve. Putting the pictures together, side by side, was shocking to me. I’m not going to show them to you; it’s weird enough writing this. I am going to tell you what went through my mind when I saw them:

Had I known there would be a movie about Steve Jobs (without Steve Jobs) I would have had myself cryopreserved for the part.

There is much more to say, but I will stop here and end with this, from the screenplay, Frozen (thanks John August).

Some people are worth melting for.
– Olaf

All the trademarks in this article belong to Apple, Inc.

Added Keynote to descendants of QuickTime