Our Opinion - The legacy of Steve Jobs: Innovation without intimidation

News Tribune editorial

Steve Jobs was a visionary.

The co-founder and former CEO of Apple — the company that put a world of information in our pocket — died Wednesday at age 56.

We live in a time of great change.

Some observers believe this era of technological advancement is on par with the development of spoken language, the establishment of shipping lanes and the Industrial Revolution.

Regardless of whether you agree, technological advances — and Apple’s products — have dramatically changed communications and commerce.

Apple unveiled its Macintosh computer in 1984, followed in 2001 by the iPod, which offered “1,000 songs in your pocket” and, in 2007, its popular touch-screen iPhone, essentially a mini-computer that can be outfitted with a wide range of applications.

These and other products transformed a backyard business into an American icon with a market value of $351 billion.

Jobs and high school friend Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976, operating from a Silicon Valley garage.

He subsequently was forced out, but returned in 1997 to rescue the company.

The death of Jobs, who battled cancer, triggered an outpouring of condolences and testimonials.

Among them:

• “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with Steve, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.” — Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates.

• “Today the world lost a visionary leader, the technology industry lost an iconic legend and I lost a friend and fellow founder. The legacy of Steve Jobs will be remembered for generations to come.” — Dell Inc. founder and CEO Michael Dell.

• “The digital age has lost its leading light, but Steve’s innovation and creativity will inspire dreamers and thinkers for generations,” Sony Corp. President and CEO Howard Stringer.

Perhaps Jobs’ greatest legacy was his ability to introduce technological advances to millions of people with products that were inviting rather than intimidating.

The capacity to advance change without causing discomfort is a rare gift — one Steve Jobs shared in abundance.

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