Last night saw the passing of Steve Jobs, a computer industry pioneer who revolutionized more than the computing industry. Jobs revolutionized how technology influences our lives and culture. That technology has even had an effect on this blog.

I bought my first Mac in 2002. I had heard about the new Mac operating system MacOS X and I wanted to learn more, so I decided to find a used Mac to play with. At the time, my company was holding a surplus auction where they would auction computers and peripherals that were beyond their life cycle. That year, the company decided that they would standardize on Windows and those with Macs would have to give up their machines. I bid on a PowerBook G3 that was code named “Wall Street” and won. I bought a copy of MacOS X Jaguar (10.2), more memory and started learning the Mac.

This was the time of the “switcher” commercials. One commercial was a woman who talked about how she was able to recover pictures from her digital camera to save Christmas. It was not Christmas time, but I was sitting with a cheap digital camera I bought to try out digital photography and having a difficult time getting the drivers loaded under Windows 2000 (remember, this was in 2002). I opened the PowerBook to try that computer. I plugged in the camera and was searching for the camera’s instructions when I noticed that not only did iPhoto start, but recognized the camera and asked if I wanted to import the photos.

To say I was blown away would be an understatement. It was easy and ordering prints online from Apple were easy and not expensive. I was hooked. I transitioned everything from the Windows machine to the Mac and never looked back. Today, I am using my third Mac. I write and manage this blog using a 27-inch iMac (late 2009). Sweet machine!

That ease of use runs through Apple’s product line and was Steve Jobs’s vision. Digital music players existed before the iPod, but Jobs lead his team to do better. From the iPod to the online digital music store, iTunes, Jobs and Apple revolutionized the electronic music business like nobody has. This portable player also lead to the revolution that are podcasts that expanded our access to information. As I look down on my desk, there is my 6th generation iPod Nano that I will clip to my shirt to listen to podcast on the go.

There were smart phones before the iPhone, but after Jobs rejected two prototypes, he gave his most exciting keynote address (called a “Stevenote”) where he introduced a single device to surf the web, listen to music, and a cellular phone—no stylus required. Then, Apple adapted the concept of programming the phone (other than by web pages) and the app store was born. In the app store, we find a number of apps that have been reviewed here including The Numismatist reading app.

The last coin show I went to, I saw a few dealers taking payments with their iPhone. Using a device called Square attached to the earphone port, dealers could swipe credit cards and get approved for payments via their iPhone. With low swipe fees (2.75% per swipe), dealers can now accept credit cards and expand their business. This would not be possible without the technology behind the iPhone.

Yes, I will pre-order an iPhone 4S tomorrow.

Never satisfied to stand still, Jobs pushed his team to build the iPad. Rather than accept what was “normal” for tablet computers, Jobs took the lessons learned from the iPhone and created another drool-worthy device that others are trying to imitate. I drooled over the iPad for over a year until the iPad 2 came out—I never buy the first version of anything. It was the reason that earlier this year, I wrote asking about electronic numismatic books which was noticed by the hobby’s two largest publishers. I have since downloaded a few numismatic books to read on the iPad. I also use the iPad to post links to numismatic stories on Twitter (see @CoinsBlog).

Even if you do not have these devices, the improvements elsewhere are because Apple pushed the envelope in that direction. Android-based phones and tablets came after Apple introduced the iPhone and iOS. Microsoft changed their Windows interface to compete with the MacOS interface. And nobody has really come up with an answer to the iPod, which remains the best selling music player in the market and iTunes is continues to sell the most downloadable music than any other vendor.

Regardless of the industry we are in and regardless of how we interact with technology, Steve Jobs and Apple has influenced all our lives that should live on.

Thank you Steve for being the influence that makes all of this possible. Rest in peace.

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