Steve Jobs is dead.
He died today at 56, about 35½ years after he co-founded Apple -- the company from which our capitalist society derives the worth and breadth of his existence.
From CBS News and CNET:
THAT IS our measure of this just-departed man. Late was the day that even Jobs himself started to seriously question the limits we placed upon his worth . . . and upon the true meaning of his life.
Jobs also set the company on the path to becoming a consumer-electronics powerhouse, creating and improving products such as the iPod, iTunes, and later, the iPhone and iPad. Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world, and has a market capitalization second to only ExxonMobil, which Apple surpassed multiple times this past August.
He did so in his own fashion, imposing his ideas and beliefs on his employees and their products in ways that left many a career in tatters. Jobs enforced a culture of secrecy at Apple and was an extremely demanding leader, terrorizing Apple employees when he returned to the company in the late 1990s with summary firings if he didn't like the answers they gave when questioned.
Jobs was an intensely private person. That quality put him and Apple at odds with government regulators and stockholders who demanded to know details about his ongoing health problems and his prognosis as the leader and alter ego of his company. It spurred a 2009 SEC probe into whether Apple's board had made misleading statements about his health.
In the years before he fell ill in 2008, Jobs seemed to soften a bit, perhaps due to his bout with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004.
In 2005, his remarks to Stanford graduates included this line: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."
Later, in 2007, he appeared onstage at the D: All Things Digital conference for a lengthy interview with bitter rival Bill Gates, exchanging mutual praise and prophetically quoting the Beatles: "You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead."
Jobs leaves behind his wife, four children, two sisters, and 49,000 Apple employees.
Sic transit gloria mundi is a concept that bedevils us. Always has, always will as we scratch and claw here in a desert land well east of Eden.
UPDATE: My old 1993 Mac. Started right up last summer after a decade in the closet. Despite the point of the above posting, you gotta give the man, and the company he founded, their technological props.