Jobs had massive impact on cultureWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you use a computer today, you are living in a world that Steve Jobs helped to create. That applies if you download a song, listen to music on the go, surf the web on a smartphone, work on a tablet computer — almost any technological innovation seen during the past three decades had his imprint on it.
The technical and sociological impact of a creator like Steve Jobs cannot be overstated. And the creative and artistic impact he left on the world is immeasurable.
It was in 1984 when Apple, already a successful company, introduced the Macintosh, the revolutionary device which would open home computing to more people than ever thought possible. It was announced in a famous and now-iconic commercial on the Super Bowl — one routinely voted as the greatest ad of all time.
The new device influenced the way people thought about interacting with computers, its graphical interface a breath of fresh air after years of struggling with code. And the more people that could grasp using the technology, the more people saw possibilities in what could be done with it creatively: Desktop publishing, music mixing, even making movies.
“He created ‘product categories’ that became necessities to some people,” film critic Roger Ebert said in a comment to Toledo Free Press. “Like Sir Walter Raleigh.”
In 1986, Jobs, during his exile from Apple, purchased a division of Lucasfilm named The Graphics Group, which focused on computer animation. Originally intended to sell computer hardware, a member of the staff named John Lasseter tried to bolster sales by creating short animated films demonstrating the technology. Soon, the company was making acclaimed commercials, and then finally feature films, under its new name — Pixar.
Though Jobs’s management style elsewhere was seen as hard-nosed and demanding, Pixar staff have said that he was always low-key and supportive around their workers, never interfering with the creative process. He was a rock, once more overseeing a company that would change its industry — this time, entertainment.
“Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply ‘make it great,’” Lasseter and Disney president Ed Catmull said in a statement released yesterday.
Under Jobs’ ownership, Pixar would earn near-universal acclaim as the most important animation studio in the world, creating one beloved film after another. The company’s rise would see traditional animation fall out of favor, and Pixar inspired computer-made films become the norm. But few of the pretenders could match Pixar’s knack for creating imaginative worlds and identifiable characters. The company, in its 25-year history, has won 26 Oscars and grossed more than $6 billion at the box office.
But Jobs wasn’t done changing the world. After his return to Apple in the mid-’90s, he would oversee the introduction of product after product which forever changed how people interact with the media. The iPod and iTunes store revolutionized music. The iPhone made mobile internet an everyday fact of life. The iPad will end up having a greater impact on more kinds of entertainment than almost any invention in the past few years.
Gaming, print, music, movies, advertising, and on and on — every one of them was, and will continue to be, changed forever by these innovations. And by the man who stood at their core. More than probably any one individual you can name, Steve Jobs was — and is — pop culture.
Email Toledo Free Press Star columnist Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.