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Few people have changed the course of technology and culture in recent years more than Steve Jobs. For the last thirty years, he has been the key figure behind some of the most significant products and developments the world has seen. In the early days of Apple in the late 1970s, he helped to pioneer the first real mass-produced personal computers. Since then he has helped to design and popularise a series of cutting-edge devices and software developments which not only appealed to millions of fans but that heavily influenced the industry too: the Macintosh; the graphical user interface that now lies behind Windows and almost every other operating system; the desktop publishing revolution; object-oriented programming; the iMac; and in more recent years the massively successful iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad. It is not just the technology industries that Steve changed: it is our very culture, down to the way we communicate and even relate to one another. Instead of looking where culture was going and making products to cater for it, he always argued it was better to set the trend and influence culture. The effect that Steve and Apple have had on people s lives and on our society cannot be underestimated, though we are years away from knowing its true impact. Steve was an iconic and brilliant man, but he was also widely acknowledged to be an extremely difficult person to work with. Many of those who knew him best have spoken about how habitually abrasive, harsh and unkind he could be, and how these masked the deep wounds he had suffered in the past. At times these personality traits were merely upsetting and unpleasant; at other times they drove people away from him and caused misery for his employees and in his closest relationships. They are the reason that he was pushed out of Apple in the 1980s, returning a decade later to rescue the sinking company from bankruptcy and disaster. They may also have killed him. Steve was fiercely independent, and some of his ideas strange, to say the least. If his unshakeable self-belief and passion for everything he did motivated those who worked with him to create some truly outstanding products, they also prevented him from accepting his doctors advice and undergoing immediate treatment when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The complex mass of contradictions embodied in Steve Jobs is not easily explained or reduced to a set of simple answers. To pretend otherwise is both inaccurate and does a disservice to the memory of one of the most influential figures of our time. Instead, it seems better simply to tell his story and leave it at that.
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Brandon Hurst is a well established author and biographer
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