Obama+world pays tribute to Steve Jobs
US president joins global outpouring for Apple co-founder
US President Barack Obama has joined the outpouring of tributes to former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who died last night.
"Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs," the statement from the White House read.
The statement went on to praise the Apple co-founder and billionaire effusively, saying he "exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity" by building a hugely successful company from his garage.
"Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it," the statement gushed.
"The world has lost a visionary."
While no one can doubt that the death of anyone at the age of 56 is a sad loss – and can seem even more so when that person is as famous as Steve Jobs – the statement from the president was perhaps a mite extravagant in its praise of dyed-in-the-wool capitalism, but it's in keeping with the tone that most have adopted today.
While every condolence extends to Jobs' family and friends at this time, they're also filled with high praise for his achievements at Apple.
Meanwhile in Blighty, Number 10 wonks tweeted that Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Steve Jobs transformed the way we work and play; a creative genius who will be sorely missed."
Tim Cook, chief exec of Apple, said: "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being."
Bill Gates said it had been "an insanely great honour" to work with him: "The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come."
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was particularly solemn: "Tonight, America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein, and whose ideas will shape the world for generations to come."
And even Samsung's CEO, despite the fact that his company is locked in a bitter patent dispute with Apple in numerous countries worldwide, said nice things. Geesung Choi said: "Chairman Steve Jobs introduced numerous revolutionary changes to the information technology industry and was a great entrepreneur. His innovative spirit and remarkable accomplishments will forever be remembered by people around the world."
Whether or not the level of praise in these accolades is a tad fulsome, the sheer number of statements, tweets and testimonials from tech world luminaries, politicians, celebrities and thousands of regular folk is a fitting tribute in itself for the man who inspired legions of fans, albeit while infuriating many others, worldwide. ®
Whilst his contributions are notable, to start putting him on a level with Einstein is a bit f*cking strong.
Actually, the comparison to Edison, at least, is fairly apt. Thomas Edison was a competent and relentless tinkerer, but much of his most enduring work was the result of fiddling with existing devices that others hadn't been able to make into commercial successes. Some 20 different inventors, for example, had made incandescent electric bulbs before Edison -- he just made one that was a LITTLE bit better, and presented it as part of what we now would call an ecosystem of power generation, distribution, delivery, and use. Edison Electric and the Edison light bulb were the iTunes/iPod of their day.
Also, remember that Edison was a tireless self-promoter and that the bulk of "Edison's" patents were the result of the engineers and researchers that he kept at Menlo Park -- he just signed his name to the papers, as the head of the company.
We also, nowadays, forget the times that he was flat-out WRONG -- cast concrete houses and furniture, anyone...? -- and the lengths to which he would go to sabotage his competitors. In order to promote his dream of Edison Electric's direct current power transmission (admittedly safer than high-voltage AC, except for the environmental effects of having power generating stations every couple of square miles due to inefficiencies in transmitting DC) he took every opportunity to try to re-brand in the public mind execution by electric chair as "Westinghousing", after George Westinghouse/Nikola Tesla's competing alternating current power generation and transmission system.
He was also not averse to suing competitors whose products interfered with his profits -- Edison Manufacturing sued competitors of Edison's motion picture production company, claiming that their cameras infringed his patents -- weakening the industry against European imports. (OTOH, this was also one of the reasons for the rise of Hollywood as movie capital of the U.S: besides having more sunny days available for filming than Edison's New Jersey and New York studios -- and at this time, even indoor scenes were shot outdoors, since electric lights weren't yet bright enough to expose the movie film -- but, being so far away from Edison's headquarters, it was more expensive for him to track down and prosecute possible infringers and the circuit court of appeals for California was known for frequently denying patent claims.)
Tirelessly promoting himself and his company, incrementally improving existing technologies to make them public objects of desire, vertically integrating product and delivery service to maximize profits and squeeze out competitors, aggressively defending his company's intellectual property... No -- Love them or hate them, Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs weren't ACTUALLY all that different.
Jobs' family to arrange "quiet" funeral
They say he didn't want anything flash.