By Alexander Villafania
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – Steve Jobs is gone, but his legacy is nothing short of enduring. He revolutionized the way technology is used.
Jobs’ concepts of what technology would be used in the future are stuff of legends that he made into reality.
While he has been criticized for just improving existing technologies – for instance, creating his signature iPod music player with some similarities from Singaporean firm Creative’s Zen music players- Jobs secured a position in the global multimedia consumption industry by making Apple devices more user-friendly and definitely better looking.
Prior to building Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, Jobs had worked in the video game industry, landing a job at Atari (having served under video game legend Nolan Bushnell) as a technician. His experience in this industry also contributed to what he saw as the miniaturization of otherwise cumbersome devices.
Under his stewardship, Apple created some of the most iconic devices in the world. One of his earliest successes was his contribution to put a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) with the Apple Lisa, a personal computer that is the predecessor of the Macintosh computers.
After an internal struggle in Apple that led to his resignation in 1985, Jobs put up Next Computer, which developed a programming platform called NeXTstep. This later became OpenStep, an object-oriented application programming interface that is now incorporated in Apple’s MacOS X operating system.
When he returned to Apple in 1996, and after numerous dealings that put him back as Apple’s chieftain, Jobs put into motion a plan that made the company profitable again. It was in 1998 that Apple introduced the iMac, an all-in-one computer that revolutionized the design of desktop PCs. The iMac went through drastic design changes over the years, and all were successful.
One of the most radical designs was the iMac G4 in 2002 wherein the components of the computers were all incorporated in a dome-shaped case. The G4’s design also had similarities with the 3D model character Luxo Jr. from Pixar, one of Jobs’ former companies. The G4 was also among the first desktop computers to incorporate an LCD monitor.
Along with the desktop iMac, Apple also introduced the MacBook notebook computers replacement of the original PowerBook. Jobs thought that the cumbersome PowerBook needed a redesign and thus embarked on a project to make Apple’s laptop more palatable to the eyes.
But the MacBook series weren’t just changed for their visual design but a number of technologies were incorporated that have yet to be followed even by its PC competitors.
One of these was the inclusion of a titanium skin, which was followed by anodized aluminum giving the MacBooks distinct look. Since 2006, Jobs has been the one introducing the new MacBooks, including one of the thinnest laptops ever, the MacBook Air.
Not yet content with his success in the PC business, Jobs again embarked on revolutionizing the multimedia device sector by introducing the iPod in 2001. Previous brands have wanted to secure a market for handheld music players especially with the increasing amount of MP3 songs being stored in hard disks and played in PCs.
Again, Jobs showed his prowess to set the future in this business by assembling a team of hardware and software engineers to create a device that made handheld music players easy to the ears and to the eyes. In 2001, the iPod was born. It was also among the first handheld devices to use a mini-hard drive (the first iPod had a 5 gigabyte hard disk).
Over the years, the iPod also changed looks. After the hard disk-based iPods, Jobs introduced the iPod Shuffle and the iPod Nano, both of which used flash drives. In 2007, the touch screen-capable iPod Touch was released. The iPod Touch would also be a stepping stone to two other devices that highlight Jobs’ legacy as an innovator.
iPhone and iPad
Perhaps currently the most widely popular Apple products, the iPhone and the iPad tablet PCs became the most sought-after devices in their respective markets.
The iPhone, launched officially in 2007, was nearly identical to the iPod Touch. But unlike other touch-enabled phones at that time, there was only one menu button on the face of the iPhone. Jobs emphasized that phones should have little clutter and that the iPhone offered the best user experience.
Jobs then followed up the iPhone with the iPad tablet PC in a major launch in April 2010. With it, Jobs had secured a position as the biggest supplier of tablet PCs worldwide. He also set the trend for what would become a global frenzy as software companies, and hardware manufacturers working together to release tablets PCs.
Job’s charisma as a subtle innovator and aggressive marketer would always be reminded by every Apple product that he helped steer into the market. The big question now would be: who in Apple will have the same vision as Jobs and what new technologies would come out of them?
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