Jobs Was A Child of The ’60s

As the Grateful Dead said in a song about the death in 1970 or so of their harmonica player and singer “Pig Pen,” who also died of liver disease, “Like a steel locomotive, going down the track, he’s gone, and nothing is going to bring him back.” Okay, maybe that was a bit maudlin. But also appropriate, because Steve Jobs was a child of the 1960s, whether or not he liked the Grateful Dead or not. He took LSD, and named it as one of the most significant events of his life. He famously said that Bill Gates would have made better software if he had taken a hit or two of that substance. Jobs named another creature of the 1960s, the Whole Earth Catalog, as one of the most significant products of the Silicon Valley, up there with the Silicon chip. (The Whole Earth Catalog was created by my man Steward Brand, who knew Jobs. Brand is still alive and well, although two decades older than Jobs. Just to close the circle, Brand was one of Ken Kesey’s acid-gobbling “Merry Pranksters.” You can read all about it in Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” Brand would get into computers, and then architecture and cities, big time. Kevin Kelley, one of Brand’s early editors, would go on to co-found Wired, the bible of high tech. But I digress.) I would say that Jobs, with the first Mac, with the Iphone, with the Ipad, brought a touch of the 60s culture into the mainstream, with his products’ emphasis on beauty, elegance and child-like fun. With their in-your-face openness, and directness, and hippie-like commitment to making it real. Okay, I’m going too far here. Now, 12 year olds in China make his Iphone, and one certainly can’t say that everything about Apple is good, true and beautiful. Jobs was a player in a hard-core, fight to the death industry. But it said something that he accomplished what he accomplished through good design, which when done right, go ways beyond cosmetics. In all, Jobs made the world a better place because he was here. Who could ask for more? We can thank him for giving his life to his products. He probably knew his time here on earth was limited, but he spent his last few years making insanely great tools, rather than lounging on Palm Beach. Thank you, Steve.