I’m really not sure how I should be feeling today. I’m sad, of course, as anyone should be where they hear of a life cut too short, when there was still so much left to do. But at the same time, I have to say the sadness is tinged with admiration. The legacy that he has left is one of the most influential on the planet. Even if you don’t own one of the products that made the company that he founded, left and then resurrected, you’re pretty likely to have used devices that he had a major hand in popularising. He didn’t invent the Graphical User Interface, the mouse, or the tablet computer, or the hard drive music player. All he did was make them easier and more intuitive to use. And in doing so, he changed the technological landscape of the late 20th and early 21st century.
His influence is everywhere – in the design, colours and finish of hundreds and thousands of products that he had nothing to do with. In the way we consume music, TV and films. He is the driving force behind one of the most innovative and consistently surprising film studios on the planet. His company could make headlines not just by launching a product, but by allowing rumours of those products to circulate.
I find it impossible to write about him in the past tense, because he’s still around – when I lift the lid of my laptop, when I pick up my phone. He’s part of the technological, social and artistic landscape, and always will be. That’s a legacy that we should all wish for.
The point is, I can write this piece without mentioning his name once, and you all know who I’m talking about.