Pioneers are a Precious Commodity these Days

Updated October 6, 2011

Doc Sheldon

Normally, I don’t care too much for posting the same thing everyone else is, but I feel as though an exception is warranted, with the recent passing of a true visionary – Steve Jobs.

I’ve never been a big fan of Apple products, primarily because I like what I’m already accustomed to, so never got on the Mac bandwagon. I’ve never said, though, that they didn’t make a damned fine product. I never got into portable music either, so the iPod never showed up on my charge account (I did buy one for my daughter, though, and she tried her best to wear it out).

That said, I did often admire the aesthetics and functionality of Apple products, and admired the deep involvement that Mr. Jobs sustained in product development. His obvious dedication to the principle of putting the user experience first was certainly a huge part of Apple’s successes.

Having had the opportunity to watch too many people face cancer and its treatments, I particularly admired him for his ability to deal with the physical and emotional blows brought with it. He had a job to do, and a vision of how it should be done, and he refused to allow anything to interfere with that.

We have lost a pioneer, and such a loss shouldn’t be taken lightly. Don’t we all die, eventually? Certainly. but the better questions should be, do we really live at all? Do we make a difference? Do we leave things better than we found them?

That Steve Jobs accomplished all that and more can’t be disputed. He wasn’t the type to create a better mousetrap… he was the sort that would have conceived the original idea when the rest of us were content to simply get a cat.

There aren’t as many pioneers these days, it seems, as we once enjoyed. Or perhaps technology has overtaken us to such a degree that it’s difficult for one individual to stand out, as many will often contribute to new concepts. So I think that makes the loss of a remarkable person like Steve Jobs an even greater loss. Pioneers are a precious commodity, and with the loss of each, we all lose.

I’ve read many tributes and obituaries since yesterday. There is a common thread, of course… one of admiration and loss. I think the best I’ve seen was that published this morning on the Wall Street Journal. Even those that knew much of Steve’s history may find new accomplishments there to wonder at. We have lost someone that has made contributions to our lives that many of us may not even realize. Never mind the Apple products he pushed to the market… what about the resulting push by his competitors, desperately trying to keep up? What about the young entrepreneurial souls just beginning their careers, with their eyes on him as an example of what can be done? Whether we make the connection or not, I think we’ll all feel those losses, too.

To Steve Jobs’ family, friends and co-conspirators to make the world a better place, I offer my sincere condolences. I also offer my thanks, for having shared him with us, and for supporting him in everything he undertook.

Rest in peace, Steve.


  1. When I think about the loss of Steve Jobs, I worry that there won’t be another of his calibre; particularly, a person that can firmly say NO to products that are just “good enough.”

    I bought an iPod Nano in 2007. It was my first Apple music player after trying just about every other crappy brand: iRiver, Creative, Sandisk, etc.

    I immediately “got it” — this was a superior product in every way.

    Jobs once said that a company will start off making great products thanks to its engineers and designers. But after the money flows in, the people in sales become the most powerful people in the company. And once you have them calling the shots, they tell the engineers and designers what to do. This kills any chance of great products.

    I really hope there’ll be others who can think like Steve Jobs.

  2. I definitely agree, Steve. He seemed to have a gift for marketing to the end user.

    There’ll be other pioneers coming along. They’re just not as obvious as they used to be, when things were “simpler”. 😉

  3. Doc,

    I am about in the same boat as you. I am not a huge buyer of apple products. But my respect for Steve Jobs as a visionary is unparalleled. He could just see trends the rest of us couldn’t.

    I am absolutely convinced that if he were given another 20 years he would have led us down a new path that no one else will see.

    The world will actually be a slightly worse place without him. Is there a better epitaph for a man than that?

  4. Hi, Steve-
    That is indeed a fine epitaph for any man. Of course, we lose people every day that have made massive contributions, but from a less public forum. How many of us remember the name of the person that invented the transistor, the CRT or the internal combustion engine? Steve’s contributions were great, but to be fair, they are both more recent in our memories and received more publicity.
    Not to take away from him, by any means… just recognizing that as an innovator, he’s in good company.

  5. Touching tribute, Sheldon. He did make a difference in his life and that of many others.

  6. Tools are wonderful and so is advice from those who have gone before. But remember that leadership is always the most important tool one can have.

  7. I remember when a friend told me about the original Ipod, and I was sure that there was no way I would ever be able to figure it out. However, my husband gave me one for my birthday and I was hooked! I still have my original one, the first version that was sold, and it still works, although its called a “classic” now. Steve Jobs was truly an innovator, but he never lost sight of the need to make his products easy for anyone to use. He was truly an original.

  8. My first Apple product was the Powermac G5, it was the dual 2GHz version, most powerful they had at the time. I spent 6000usd on the setup and had got it for college at the time. That was back in october of 2003. Now, 8 years later, I am still using that machine, granted I have upgraded parts of it, but its still my main machine. I also have 4 other macs as well now, an iPod touch, iPhone4, and the iPad2. Steve Jobs was a part of all of the products and knew exactly how he wanted them to look, function, and survive through out time. He will be remembered for a long time, probably much longer than we will live.

  9. Ahmad Wali says:

    Nice words about the great person Steve Jobs. He was admired all over the world and I was surprised that where Apple products are not in used tributes him and his work.

    Ahmad Wali

  10. Hi, Ahmad! Great to see you pop in!

    I think Jobs will be remembered for quite a while. It’s unfortunate that when anyone of some prominence passes away, there always seems to be first a flood of admirers, then a second flood of detractors. The truth is, none of us that didn’t know the man personally have any idea what he was like, so I think the bottom line is, what did he accomplish in his life. Steve Jobs certainly left a mark, and I hope that Apple manages to sustain his philosophy and keep growing.

    Thanks for stopping by… don’t be such a stranger! 😉

  11. Hello, Ruby-

    I haven’t used a lot of Apple products, but a company I worked with many years ago provided nothing but Mac computers, back when Apple was still a young company. I never really got used to them, probably for the same reason that I didn’t like Windows much… I was a DOS guy, and liked getting my hands dirty… both Windows and Mac just seemed to be a little too glitzy for my tastes.

    But nobody can argue the fact that Apple has had a real impact on PC design, not to mention all their other product lines. I think that was largely due to Jobs’ involvement in the design process.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you’ll be back.

  12. Hello, Monica-

    Thanks for chiming in! Wow! To still have a working copy of the original is cool… you obviously take care of your stuff! (care to hang out with my daughter a bit? Her nickname is “The Destroyer”. 😉

  13. Hi Doc
    I’ve used a mac computer of one form or another for over 20 years, so they’ve become a part of my life. Like many other people, I felt a deep sadness at Steve Jobs’ passing. He was certainly a pioneer and also a maverick, who set about doing things the way he thought was best, rather than the way he thought would serve HIM the best. That is surely a brave and honest way to live. In the end, I suspect that that will be his greatest legacy – a life lived with integrity.

  14. “… a life lived with integrity.” What a great way to put it, Helen. A fellow could do a lot worse than having that engraved on his headstone!
    Thanks for the comment. I hope to see you around again, soon.