On the Passing of a Giant

October 7, 2011

In March of 2000, Apple was set to launch the first version of Mac OS X. At the time, I was working for a company called Macromedia (creators of Flash, subsequently purchased by Adobe) on a professional illustration program called FreeHand. Part of the Mac OS X transition was a system that reimplemented the programming interfaces from Mac OS 9 on the operating system kernel of Mac OS X. That system was called Carbon and was key to the strategy that let Mac OS 9 application transition to the Mac OS X platform. We had worked very hard with Apple and FreeHand was one of the first applications to run under the new system. I was invited to demo FreeHand running on Mac OS X at the Mac OS X launch event.

The launch was held on the Apple Campus in the "Town Hall," the same venue that recently hosted the launch of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4s. Members of The Press were across the hallway in an adjacent room while those of us who were going to present were reviewing our parts, being fitted with microphones, and anxiously milling about. At one point an Apple employee stuck her head into the room and announced that Steve Jobs would be arriving in a few minutes. Most people took the announcement in stride and continued about their business.

At some point in this process, two of the representatives from Apple's Developer Relations team that I had been working with seated themselves about halfway up the auditorium; they were innocently waiting for the event to start.

When Steve walked into the room, he did so through a side door that was just to the left of my seat. I was standing in front of the seat, and Steve came to stop right in front of me. The moment he walked into the room, all conversation died out. The entire room held it's breath for a few heart beats while Steve stretched and commented aloud about being "ready to do this thing."

As the conversations around the room came back on-line, Steve turned to me, pointed at the Developer Relations folk halfway up the auditorium and forcefully asked "Who are those people?" Naturally I fumbled to find a reply and was explaining that they worked for Developer Relations. Thankfully the VP of Developer Relations was nearby. He tapped Steve on the shoulder and told him "Those are my people, Steve." I often tell folks at that point that "The Eye of Sauron turned" as Steve went off to review his presentation.

This was my first encounter with Steve Jobs. I've had a couple more over the years, minor interactions that I have no doubt he would never have remembered. Still, I have been working on Apple products since I was very young. Over the years my specialization in the field of Apple development has allowed me to care for myself and my family. Apple's products continue to be an important part of my life.

Shortly the official press event announcing Mac OS X, I was invited to the cafeteria at Apple, Caffe Macs, and heard Steve talk about how Mac OS X was going to change everything. Over 10 years later, and that operating system now powers not only the Macintosh computer, but the host of iOS devices as well. A decade away I'm now working at SoftLayer to bring some of that innovation, and excellence to our mobile products.

I am one of millions whose lives have been touched by Steve Jobs. I know that while he was here he seized life with an intensity that inspires many of us. I hope that where he has gone he will have time to relax, reflect, and rest for a time.

That is, I have no doubt, before he starts "One More Thing..."

Rest in Peace, Steve.

-Scott

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