I remember being at the Linotype-Hell users conference in Arizona where Steve Jobs was to give a speech at the opening night dinner. This was back in 1993 and Linotype was releasing a really cool pre-press system that could only have been created on NeXT computers. The company I co-founded at the time was also there, showing off some clever publishing software we created. The NeXT computer had been famously referred to as “the best machine for desktop publishing” by industry pundit Jonathan Seybold. We were all psyched.
Up until the last moment before the appointed time of Steve’s speech, our colleagues at NeXT were visibly nervous. They didn’t know if he would even show up. In the end he did, but for several minutes before starting his talk, he put everything on hold to play with his young son Reed, making shadows in the projector light. It was a perfect father/son moment, one that stood in marked contrast to the steely Linotype execs who were at that moment probably wondering what they’d gotten themselves into. Little did any of us know that the following Tuesday, NeXT hardware would be discontinued on what became known as Black Tuesday.
I have loved every minute of the roller-coaster ride that is being a software entrepreneur. It is a career option that like so many others, would not have been remotely imaginable without the amazing tools made by Steve Jobs and his genius colleagues. A few years back at a Stanford Business School event, I had the chance to personally thank Steve for all he has given the world. It was an awkward, fleeting moment, and I was completely tongue-tied. Later that evening I sent him an email in an attempt to better express my feelings. To my utter surprise and delight, he replied, saying: “Thanks John, all the best.”
No. Thank You Steve Jobs, you are my hero.