Where does one begin when attempting to put into words “Where would we be today without the vision of Steve Jobs?” And by “we” I mean more than graphic and communication designers, I mean everyone: designers, clients, students, teachers, grandparents, children...
It goes without saying, that prior to the introduction of the Mac, computers were clunky, uncooperative, alien “machines” which required dedicated knowledge and perserverence to do even the simplest of tasks. Starting with the simple mouse, Jobs changed the interface from a series of coded and ominously serious “commands” to the simplicity of the mouse and its childlike point and click. What a baby wants, it points at. And that set the tone for everyone's relationship with a Mac. It's not adversarial: it’s a partnership. It opens its arms, and we snuggle in!
I remember learning how to set type in college in 1982 in the pre-WYSIWYG environment and absolutely hated it. Being introduced to a MacPlus in 1986 at Gottschalk + Ash changed my world. Then being forced to work on a PC in 1989 after already having worked on the MacPlus—the need for different drives, and sticky notes all over the monitor with the necessary codes to access the drives and initiate a simple task like “Print” made my head hurt!! I had seen the light and knew there was a better way.
And then there was typography. The ability for designers to set their own type and be in control of the basic element of all design was probably the biggest game changer for our profession. Sure it was intimidating in those early years, and of course there were the cries of the dangers of those desktop publishers and how they'd take away our work. But the democratization of design has through the Mac, if anything, made our skills and knowledge more respected because people quickly realized there was more to design than picking fonts and applying cool background patterns.
And I'm sure countless others had the same experience and revelation: working on a computer did not need to feel like work.
And that’s what Steve Jobs did for all of us. The computer became an extension of ourselves: be it our design, our music, our communication, our networking. I for one cannot imagine our world if we'd been left to the pedantic “vision” of the faceless IBM.
It’s not very often that our world is touched by such a visionary person. The caveman who discovered how to control fire. The inventor of the wheel. The domestication of animals. Gutenberg and his moveable type. The clock. The internal combustion engine. Electricity. Flight. The Mac.
Thank you Steve Jobs.