They were giants in life and their impact on us will be felt and remembered for a very long time. RIP Steve and Bill.
This week the world lost two giants; both at the young age of 56; both inspiring and focused on their passions. One on a global level, one on a local level. One lived his life on the Westcoast and the other one on the Eastcoast, they never met in person (as far as I know), but they shared the most important energy called passion for life.
Apple founder Steve Jobs was the world’s best innovator of the last 50 years. In a short 14 years he managed to turn Apple into a brandname that is as widely known and desirable all over the world as Coca Cola and McDonalds, far beyond the likes of Microsoft or IBM. Steve took the computer invention and turned it into digital products for people to use. His visions centered around how to make products cool and accessible and above all user friendly. He listened to the people until he knew what they wanted.
My First Apple Computer Made me a Ton of Money
The first Apple Computer I bought was the Macintosh SE in the summer of 1987. I was living on my sailboat in Charlotte Amalie’s harbor in the US Virgin Islands after having retired from corporate America a year earlier. The reason I bought the Mac SE for a steep $4,400 (the keyboard was sold separately) was that the harbor was filled with boaties, who all liked to become part of the lucrative Charter Boat Business and needed brochures for an upcoming Boat Charter Show.
I learned from my brother Thom, a doctor in Holland at the time with a passion for computers, that designing and graphics on a Mac SE was a piece of cake. I was still mostly computer illiterate in 1987 but I was blown away by my Mac from the moment I switched the button to ON. Everything on that little machine started buzzing as software installed itself and 15 minutes into the process, I started designing my first brochure. I think my learning curve was less than 3 hours.
I designed more than 20 brochures into CRA (camera ready art) in less than two weeks on my SE, which paid tenfold for the expense of $4,400, came out of retirement, bought my first color laser printer (another $5,000) and started designing vacation magazines and hotel brochures. Apple products have stayed at the core of my companies ever since.
My brother Thom, who passed away a year ago on July 30 at the age of 51, was in many ways like Steve Jobs and every time Steve publicized another video speech, Thom would spend hours analyzing the message between the lines, which often gave a good glimpse into the future.
Steve Jobs did not invent, or create new business or production/distribution structures. Steve Jobs changed the world by creating cool looking consumer friendly digital products, that took away people’s fear of technology. Apple today is not a computer company, it’s a digital products company, that under Jobs’ steering vision became a $322 billion dollar company in less than 14 years time.
Steve Jobs’ genius was hiring and inspiring top talented people to create digital products that have enriched life and given power and future where none was before. And for that we owe him eternally.
On a personal note I would like to warn Steve: “Beware you’re not going to be sitting idle, Steve, because I know my brother Thom (your biggest fan ever and a genius in his own right) was without a doubt waiting at the Gates to claim your attention and engage you in endless conversations about questions we have no answers to here on earth.”
We will miss you.
Another giant passed this week, as the journey of our friend Bill Savage was cut short at the same age of 56 as well. Bill fought with cancer for about the same number of years as Steve Jobs and Bill also fought his illness with a heroic courage and humor. Even though I have only known him for a short 8 months, I know I will miss him as much as I liked him from the first moment we met.
Our life’s share some parallels in the passion for sailing and music. As a younger man he set out to sail the waters around Florida and Georgia and played music in the various ports. And when the time came to settle down, he and his wife Brenda did so in their favorite port city on Amelia Island, where they built the business Savage Stone and became active in nurturing and guiding children into a music filled Christian lives. Bill’s life became much more focused on serving and sharing. Father of two beautiful, multi-talented daughters he choose the road to support their live’s endeavors and nourish the talents.
As we all knew in recent weeks that the end was nearing, we are just grateful that he could see his daughter Julia “Nikki” dedicate her performance during the recent Amelia Island Blues Festival to Bill, after for years having guided and sculpted her musical talents. There was even a slim hope that he would find the strength somehow to make it to the birth of his first grand child, but he decided instead to leave us on a beautiful early fall Sunday, before cancer could turn this beautiful giant of a man into a shadow of his former self and a burden to his loved ones.
The last time we spoke lucidly he said: “I’m not afraid to know the truth”. RIP Bill, you will be missed.