Steve Jobs: The man who took the mouse from the table to the screen

29 Aug

JJ’s very own newspaper nerd CT on the impact of Steve Jobs:

It is with much sadness I saw a photo of Steve Jobs this Bank Holiday weekend being helped into a car looking frail and ill.

A man who has been such a tour de force in our world and yours seems to be fighting the battle of his life against a rare form of pancreatic cancer. It is a tragedy – a personal tragedy for him and his family, of course, but also for the millions of people across the world who have been touched by his brilliance.

When I started out as a journalist in the 1980s I wrote my copy on a typewriter and then a word processor with horrible green text flashing on a small screen.

When my newspaper finally adopted desk top publishing in the 1990s I looked with envy at our subs with their beautiful Macintosh’s designing and laying out each page.

While Microsoft brought the personal computer to every home Jobs obssessed about the “graphical user interface” – ensuring that however non savvy you might be with computers, you could be sucked into the look and feel of technology.

I’m not a gadget freak and don’t queue up to buy the latest must have technology but even I was blown away when I first clapped eyes and hands on the first iPod and iPhone. Simply genius.

The last 10 years has all been about visualisation of digital media – yes the text and what we have to say is still important, and always will be, but it’s the design and beauty of it that speaks to people most.

While Twitter is a tour de force in social media – a simple idea of 140 text characters – would it have worked so well if we’d never gone beyond the Sinclair ZX Spectrum? Websites, gaming and social media sites are beautiful pieces of art that wouldn’t be here without Jobs and his staff championing design and challenging the way we interact physically with technology.

I have a favourite anecdote of when I was first trained to use a PC with a mouse. The trainer told us to use our mouse and the person next to me promptly picked it up and moved it across the computer screen. They had never seen a mouse used before.

Looking back now at how we glide our fingers across iPads and iPhones (many other makes are available) it doesn’t seem so funny now. While I quietly sniggered away it never occurred to me that one day we all would be gliding across a screen – thank goodness it occurred to Steve Jobs.

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