You are here

Giants Among Us

Giants Among Us by Gary Woods

Years ago after Steve Jobs had returned to Apple I was at the MacWorld convention in San Francisco when they announced Mac OSX and I found myself standing next to Mr. Jobs. At 6" 4' I physically looked down on him but I can remember thinking at the time, this guy is miles above us looking out over vistas most of us can't even imagine. That was one of those moments when I realized that we really do have "Giants Among Us."

With Steve's passing he was compared to Edison which I thought was unfair. Edison thought of things that didn't exist and then went out and created them, things like the light bulb and the phonograph player. I think a more apt comparison would be Henry Ford who took things that already existed and fashioned them into products that we couldn't figure out how we got along without when they showed up on the scene.

For example, before the iPod, we had ways of playing music but he took "off the shelf" parts and fashioned them into a product that was elegant to hold and a delight to use. The best example is the iPad. People had been wrestling with the idea of a tablet for close to 20 years but it took Steve to again take parts that had been around for a long time and put them into a package that once you held it in your hands you had to have.

Thinking about the Edison, Ford comparison another person I think compares well to Steve is Magic Johnson. I always liked Magic because he made everybody around him better and that's what Steve did. He would get that last amount of creativity out of people, spurring them forward to feats that they didn't even know they were capable of to produce a product that was truly miraculous.

Probably the best thing that he created was Apple itself. To bring together all those incredibly smart people under one umbrella was a thing of beauty. Prior to the computer revolution the watch word in American industry was to get employees that were good but not too good so they would be content to stay where they were until you gave them that gold watch 20 or 30 years down the road. With the computer age that changed to, "get me the best people you can find" and then turn them loose to create.

There's no doubt that Apple always had a lot of really brilliant people but without Steve to lead the way it entered into what I call the BS years for "Between Steve." Those BS years were full of the other BS too because there were a lot of overlapping products without much if any vision and consequently Apple slumped into what could have been oblivion.

I think my favorite part of Steve Jobs was the fun and whimsy he brought to the scene. The scuttlebutt and endless blog posts that swirled about before every product unveiling were just pure joy to me. To watch everybody scrambling after what they all thought was the true word from the mountain top before it was revealed was more fun than I can describe. Then, when the magic day would arrive and out would walk Steve grinning with that impish smile and he would proceed to strut back and forth on the stage while the next most amazing thing in the universe was revealed to us was ecstasy. Even after the events the speculation about what he really meant by what he said would continue until the product actually arrived.

I guess my biggest disappointment in Steve's early departure is that we'll never have those great Keynotes again. Sure, the product line is well laid out for at least the next 4 to 5 years but the ringmaster has left the building and the circus just isn't quite as much fun anymore.

In closing all I can say is, thanks Steve for a great ride and it's been a privilege to be an observer as a true giant walked among us.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc