Steve Jobs Death, His Influence on Generation Y, and His Failures

Growing up with a Computer Scientist for a father, my life was destined to be heavily influenced by technology. I was exposed to Apple products at a very young age, spending numerous hours playing computer games on the family’s Apple IIe.

While the picture above shows a green monochrome monitor, the monitor I was using had grown old and showed color only in a warm, faded yellow. Next to the computer, we kept a well organized box of 5 1/4″ floppy disks, unfamiliar to anyone born in the 90’s and beyond.

This computer was a gateway for me to explore computer games such as Dung Beetles or Taipan!. It’s difficult for me to understand a world without personal computing. While personal computers were not integrated into everyday lives at this point, Generation Y’s reliance on computers accelerated such that we were required to pass typing speed tests on computer keyboards to graduate from middle school.

Apple has a long history of iconic advertising. In this iconic ad from the 1984 Super Bowl, a runner hurls a large hammer at a screen, symbolically representing the power of the Apple Macintosh to “combat conformity and assert originally.” The Thought Police and other Orwellian elements were meant to represent IBM and its stranglehold on the personal computing industry.

How ironic that the Apple brand Jobs created has is now growing into the conformist structure. Thousands of Apple fanatics wait outside stores for days to be the first to snatch new Apple products. Hordes of people define their lives through the number of Apple products they own.

In 2005, Steve Jobs delivered a superb commencement speech at Stanford University.

His final words are powerful: “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.”

Yet the Apple brand he has created is the exact culture which avoids these exact principles. While Jobs delivered the world to the fingertips of millions, he simultaneously encouraged them to pursue easily digestible content and stop thinking. While many have focused on his story as a triumph of the entrepreneurial spirit, his creation is the mortal enemy of this spirit.

While the magnitude of Jobs’ legacy is certainly enormous, only posterity will be able to accurately assess whether his impact was positive or negative. However, it is important to recognize the failures of Steve Jobs as much as his strengths.