Top 5 ways Steve Jobs made our lives better

When Steve Jobs announced he was stepping down as CEO of Apple this summer, we knew it might be coming — yet the news of his passing still felt shocking. His vision and innovations have made a great impact on our culture, changing the way we perform day-to-day tasks. Here’s a look at some of the top ways Steve Jobs influenced the way we live and work.

The Personal Computer

In today’s iPad world, we tend to lose sight of the fact that just 30 years ago, the notion of having a computer at home, for your own personal use, was absurd. Along with friend and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs introduced the world to one of the first home computers back in the 1980’s with the Apple II, an 8bit computer encased in plastic. It was one of the most successful computers of the decade, and completely revolutionized the way people live and work.

You need only watch an episode of Mad Men to understand the difference in the office environment pre and post computer! These days, there is probably no office that runs without a computer at each and every desk. There would, of course, still be computers without Steve Jobs, but there’s no doubt he was a pioneer in making computers more accessible. His Mac OS provided a simpler and more reliable option than the competition, and though sometimes criticized for its lack of customization, it is loved for the simplicity and the accessibility it provides.


With the release of the iPod and iTunes early into the millennium, Jobs completely changed the way people buy and listen to music. The industry quickly moved from CD-based to digital, and iTunes is now the largest online music retailer in the world. While some musicians like Bon Jovi criticized him for destroying the ‘authentic’ tactical album listening experience, many musicians and the music world at large have thanked him for his contributions, notably GarageBand, which allowed many artists to get their start recording their first albums in their basements on their Mac.

I personally have to thank him for the iPod, which saved me the huge hassle of dragging my CDs and a bulky CD player around in my bag. Of course, he didn’t invent the concept of the MP3 player, but he did simplify it, made it able to hold more music than the competition, not to mention nicer to look at and use. I once tried a friends MP3 player before the days of the iPod and had to ask how to use it. You rarely need to ask how to use any Apple product.


Simplicity of Design

The above point touches on this. You don’t need a manual to use any of the Apple products so long as you have the most basic computer skills. The large icons, clean design and intuitive nature of the products are what set the bar so high and keep the competition trailing behind. People are naturally attracted to products that look good — and technology had struggled in that area, being bulky, plastic, and in general, an eyesore.

Jobs noted that when the Mini Coop was released, it became popular mostly because of its size, and he used that information in every product Apple released. The use of metal was once unheard of in the tech world but he made his team figure it out, realizing that it would be key to making gadgets smaller and cleaner.

The iPhone

The iPhone rules the smart-phone world, and has since its inception, stealing many loyal Blackberry fans with its touchscreen design, large screen, apps, strong camera and iPod capabilities all in one small device. Its ease of use and ability to do everything you could ever need to do, while still looking great, made it the most talked about phone in our history.

Even if you don’t have an iPhone, if you own any smart-phone it is likely influenced by the iPhone, as when rival companies got their hands on it they developed similar devices like the Android. There will come a day where regular cell phones are no longer made, all to be replaced with the smart-phone, and a lot of that can be contributed to the mainstream popularization of it through Job’s well-crafted product.

Beyond the PC

The most recent development in Apple land is the iPad tablet, which at first I did not see as anything special — just another tablet, a larger iTouch — what was the point? These days I am eager to get my hands on one, as I see the benefit of a very portable device to write on anywhere I go. Of course there are many copycats out there now, and the tablet, like the smart-phone, will soon be as common as the household computer.

It is one thing to develop one great product in your lifetime, but Jobs managed to create many that were not only well designed but easy to use, and that is the mark of his legacy. He did not invent the idea of the computer — or the smart-phone, the MP3 player or the tablet — but he had a massive hand in making them part of our day to day lives.

Steve Jobs, who was 56, died on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. According to his death certificate, the Apple co-founder died of respiratory arrest resulting from pancreatic cancer that had spread to other organs. He had been in poor health for a number of years.

Photo © Yunus Arakon