I didn’t expect this news so soon.

It would be disingenuous for me to pretend that this isn’t sobering news. I never thought Steve Jobs was a likable person; I don’t believe he was even a very interesting person. (I actually think that Bill Gates would be more interesting to have dinner with.) But the things that Steve Jobs made — or, to be more precise, the making of which he envisioned and directed and oversaw — have had a huge impact on my life.

I bought my first computer in the spring of 1985: the original 128K Macintosh. (Plus an external floppy drive and an ImageWriter printer.) Since then I have owned or used at work

  • an SE30
  • a PowerBook 100
  • a Performa 6116
  • a Performa 7500
  • an original iMac (lime green)
  • a later-generation iMac (the first one with a slot CD drive)
  • a PowerBook G3
  • a PowerBook G4
  • an iMac G5
  • three MacBooks (one each for my wife, my son, and me)
  • a MacBook Air
  • an original iPod
  • a third-generation iPod
  • a first-generation iPod Nano
  • the first three generations of the iPod Shuffle
  • the original iPhone
  • an iPhone 3GS
  • two iPads

Listing the software would take too long. The hardware list was long enough, and probably incomplete.

I have used these devices for work and play more (far more) than any other devices I have ever owned. My habits as a music lover — and a purchaser of music — have been dramatically shaped by these devices; my habits of labor have been even more fully formed by my use of things Apple has made or enabled. I am what some people call a “knowledge worker” — a teacher, researcher, and writer — and I barely remember what it was like to work with knowledge before I had Apple products to rely on for hours and hours of every working day.

And it is impossible to believe that any of these objects would have existed in anything like the form we know had Steve Jobs not been around. For good or for ill, he has probably had a greater influence on how I live than I even know. Of course his passing moves me. It would be absurd for me to claim otherwise.

And now, having written this, I have some work to do. I’ll listen to some music on iTunes and write in BBEdit, as I have for years. Steve Jobs’s influence on how I go about my day will continue to be great. But from here on out, it’ll be a little less year by year, as others are forced to step up to set the direction for new technologies. They’re not likely to be nearly as good at it as Steve was.