IT WAS always going to be a hard act to follow. On October 4th Apple staged a press conference to launch its latest iPhone and other gadgets. Tim Cook, the computing giant’s new chief executive, and his colleagues did a perfectly competent job of presenting its latest wares. But it was inevitable that comparisons would be drawn between Mr Cook’s understated approach on stage and that of Steve Jobs, his predecessor, whose sense of showmanship had turned so many Apple product launches into quasi-religious experiences. The news the following day that Mr Jobs had finally died following a long battle with cancer turned the feeling of disappointment into one of deep sadness.
大师的后继者注定要相形见绌。10月4日，苹果举办媒体发布会，推出其最新版的iPhone及其他设备。这家计算机巨头的新首席执行官提姆·库克（Tim Cook）联同他的同事们非常称职地完成了最新产品的发布。然而，人们难免要将库克先生在台上低调的表述方式与其前任史蒂夫·乔布斯（Steve Jobs）所具有的将众多苹果产品发布会变幻成为近乎宗教仪式的强大展现力进行比较。而次日关于乔布斯先生在与癌症长期抗争之后去世的消息则将失望的情绪演化成为一抹深深的哀伤。
Many technologists have been hailed as visionaries. If anyone deserves that title it was Mr Jobs. Back in the 1970s, the notion that computers might soon become ubiquitous seemed fanciful. In those days of green-on-black displays, when floppy discs were still floppy, he was among the first to appreciate the potential that lay in the idea of selling computers to ordinary people. More recently, under his guidance,Apple went from being a company on the brink of bankruptcy to a firm that has reshaped entire industries and brought rivals to their knees. Rarely incorporate history has a transformation been so swift. Along the way Mr Jobs also co-founded Pixar, an animation company, and became Disney’s biggest shareholder.
Few corporate leaders in modern times have been as dominant—or, at times, as dictatorial—as Mr Jobs. His success was the result of his unusual combination of technical smarts,strategic vision, flair for design and sheer force of character. But it was also because in an industry dominated by engineers and marketing people who often seem to come from different planets, he had a different and much broader perspective. Mr Jobs had an unusual knack for looking at technology from the outside, as a user, not just from the inside, as an engineer—something he attributed to the experiences of his wayward youth.
An adopted child, Mr Jobs caught the computing bug while growing up in Silicon Valley. As a teenager in the late 1960s he cold-called his idol, Bill Hewlett, and talked his way into a summer job at Hewlett-Packard (HP), where he met Steve Wozniak (pictured above with Mr Jobs). But it was only after dropping out of college, travelling to India, becoming a Buddhist and experimenting with psychedelic drugs that Mr Jobs returned to California to co-found Apple with Mr Wozniak, in his parents’ garage, on April Fools’ Day 1976. “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences,” he once said. “So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions.”His great rival, Bill Gates, he suggested, would be “a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”
Dropping out of his college course and attending calligraphy classes instead had, for example, given Mr Jobs an apparently useless love of typography. But support for a variety of fonts was to prove a key feature of the Macintosh, the pioneering mouse-driven, graphical computer that Apple launched in 1984. With its windows, icons and menus, it was sold as “the computer for the rest of us”. Mr Jobs expected to sell “zillions”of his new machines. But the Mac was not the swift, mass-market success that he had hoped for, and Mr Jobs was ousted from Apple by its board in 1985. Deprived of hallucinogenic drugs though he might have been, Mr Gates emerged as the undisputed champion of the personal-computer era. Most of the world adopted Microsoft-compatible PCs. The Mac became a niche product, much loved by graphic designers, artists and musicians.
Yet this apparently disastrous turn of events proved to be a blessing: “the best thing that could have ever happened to me”, Mr Jobs later called it. He co-founded a new firm, Pixar, which specialised in computer graphics. It eventually went on to produce a string of hugely successful movies, including “Toy Story” and “Cars”. Mr Jobs also established NeXT, another computer-maker, which produced sophisticated workstations. Its products were admired for their elegant software, but the company struggled to make money and changed direction repeatedly.
Mr Jobs’s remarkable second act began in 1996 when Apple, having lost its way, acquired NeXT, and Mr Jobs returned to put its software at the heart of anew range of Apple products. And the rest is history: Apple launched the iMac,the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, and (briefly, in August) became the world’s most valuable listed company. “I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple,” Mr Jobs said in 2005. When his failing health forced him to step down as Apple’s boss in August, he was hailed by some as the greatest chief executive in history.
Three-way marriage 三位一体，让心灵歌唱
In retrospect, Mr Jobs was a man ahead of his time during his first stint at Apple. Computing’s early years were dominated by technical types. But his emphasis on design and ease of use gave him the edge later on.Elegance, simplicity and an understanding of other fields came to matter in a world in which computers have become fashion items, carried by everyone, that can do almost anything. “Technology alone is not enough,” said Mr Jobs at the end of his speech introducing the iPad 2, in March 2011. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” It was an unusual statement for the head of a technology firm.