The news is sad but not entirely unexpected: Steve Jobs has died at the age of 56 after years of health issues and a high-profile resignation from Apple a few months ago. CNN has a live blog of reactions from colleagues and leading figures in technology and the world at large, and even those whom the man counted as enemies are saying they loved him.
As the film critic at this publication, I’m naturally drawn to his impact on the movie industry, which began when he bought a computer graphics firm in George Lucas’ business empire and saw it become Pixar Animation Studios. Though others were responsible for the creative masterworks that flowed from that studio, it was Jobs who gave them the necessary cash at a critical time ($5 million, a pittance compared with what Pixar would become) and brought a management style that dovetailed with the creative culture. Had Jobs done nothing else, that would have been enough of a legacy for us to celebrate.
Of course, he did so much else. The 338 patents he owned testified to his technological career. He lived to see computers change from the oatmeal-colored boxes of the 1970s to the elegant little devices that fit in your pocket. He was also one of America’s best known Buddhists, and despite a history of high-handed behavior, he won an unusual amount of affection from his followers. A few were moved to hail him as the greatest innovator since Thomas Edison. Taking a cue from Christopher Wren’s epitaph, if you seek Steve Jobs’ monument, check your smartphone.