MEMOIR: Steve Jobs — leading a musical revolution

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily


Steve Jobs — who died today at the age of 56 — impacted
virtually every aspect of the lives we live today and one of those areas was
the field of music. I heard a commentator this afternoon call him a modern-day
Thomas Edison, which I think is the best description I’ve heard so far of this
visionary. If you haven’t read one of Job’s many detailed obituaries, I urge
you to do so — a couple of options can be found at the Los Angeles Times and New
York Times
. It’s an amazing story.

I bought my first Macintosh, in 1984, within months after it
came out. It was my second computer; my first was an Osborne I (the first
sort-of-portable computer — it weighed about 25 pounds and looked like a
portable sewing machine, and ran on an operating system known as CP/M (Control
Program for Microcomputers). That means I’ve never owned a computer run by a
Microsoft operating system (e.g., MS-Dos, Windows). I’ve been a Mac lover from
the beginning.


Even Job’s failures turned out to be significant. After he
left Apple Computer in a power struggle in 1985, he started NeXT Computing,
which never really took off but the technology was so good that British
computer scientist Tim
used a NeXT computer to create the World Wide Web in the
early 1990s. Of course, in the ultimate irony, Apple Computer ended up buying
NeXT, Jobs eventually returned to head up Apple, and turned his attention to
the entertainment business, first with Pixar Animation and then in the music


Jobs’ music revolution came first with the iPod and iTunes.
The iPod (released in 2001) changed how we stored and listened to music; iTunes
actually predated the iPod by several months and the iTunes Music Store was
born in 2003. Although many people continue to buy CDs today, most get their
music by downloading into their iPod, iPhone, iPad or other electronic device.


Classical music lovers may (correctly) bemoan the sound
quality of downloaded music but the revolution is here to stay … although it
will quite likely be supplemented by some other visionary’s dream in the next
decades. Steve would approve of that, although he would be furious that he
wasn’t around to make it happen.



(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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