WHEN it came to putting on a show, nobody else in the computer industry, or any other industry for that matter, could match Steve Jobs. His product launches, at which he would stand alone on a black stage and conjure up an “incredible” new electronic gadget in front of an awed crowd, were the performances of a master showman. All computers do is fetch and shuffle numbers, he once explained, but do it fast enough and “the results appear to be magic”. Mr Jobs, who died this week aged 56, spent his life packaging that magic into elegantly designed, easy-to-use products.
The reaction to his death, with people leaving candles and flowers outside Apple stores and the internet humming with tributes from politicians, is proof that Mr Jobs had become something much more significant than just a clever money-maker. He stood out in three ways—as a technologist, as a corporate leader and as somebody who was able to make people love what had previously been impersonal, functional gadgets. Strangely, it is this last quality that may have the deepest effect on the way people live. The era of personal technology is in many ways just beginning.
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