Just before I got the news tonight, I was riding a newly-purchased bicycle over Berlin’s Eisenbrücke, and thinking again about the way Steve Jobs described the computer – as a bicycle for the mind. It was something about feeling effortless speed, all from something that needs no fuel, that made it hit me. I can think of no more hopeful metaphor for what computers could ultimately mean – for music, for creativity, and for people. It was just coincidence that this thought happened to hit me today, nothing more, but that’s the lasting endurance of an idea.
Steve Jobs’ loss is already clogging Twitter. Many of our other technological pioneers, when they go, won’t be so lucky, as the generation that invented computers passes into history. But to Mr. Jobs’ credit, despite his reputation, he was someone who regularly celebrated their contributions, too, often above his own. And if we thought of nothing else he said, if we never touched so much as an Apple-branded display dongle again, I think the notion of a bicycle for the mind could keep us busy for … well, for the rest of our lives. It’s a shame they’re all so brief.
And I’m hopeful that Steve’s most succinct vision of the computer will be what endures – through the work of friends and colleagues at Apple, and far beyond Cupertino, in the work all of you reading this site do. To Steve, for that image even more than the machines we grew up with, thanks.