Marin residents remember Steve Jobs as visionary, revolutionary

Marin residents remembered Apple cofounder Steve Jobs as a visionary who transformed the tech world.

“He made an incredible difference in our lives,” said Ed Catmull, a Kentfield resident and president and co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios.

“He had a clarity of vision about taking what he thought was obvious and making it real,” said Catmull, who worked with Jobs since the mid-1980s when the Apple executive purchased Pixar from LucasFilm. “Some people put marketing at the top of … the success for the business,” Catmull added. “What he did was he made the quality of what he was working on the most important thing.”

Jason Snell, a mill Valley resident and Macworld editorial director, covered Jobs since the mid-1990s and said the Apple cofounder would be remembered as “one of those iconic figures of American business and really history.”

Snell credited Jobs with building tremendous hype around the release of new Apple products by summoning the press to launch events with cryptic invitations that gave little information about the actual release.

“One of the things that he did that was really remarkable was … announcing and releasing the technology products as theater almost — there was a show business aspect to it that was so smart,” Snell said. “His skill as a salesman, which is one of many special things about him, was why they were able to embark on this kind of plan to make these surprise product announcements. … You don’t announce technology that way — or at least you didn’t used to.”

Snell recalled interviewing Jobs for a story on the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh, which he realized in hindsight was about a month after Jobs’ cancer diagnosis.

During the interview, Snell asked Jobs whether he planned to stop calling himself interim CEO and stay on with the company for the long term.

“‘He said, ‘Like the song says, we are only renting here on earth,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s so philosophical of him,'” Snell said. “In hindsight I realized this is a guy that his priorities had changed.”

At the Apple store in Corte Madera, 27-year-old Sara Humphreys of San Francisco called Jobs a “revolutionary.”

“He created a culture of youth among I would say an older generation, bringing in all types of products for different people to use,” Humphreys said. “He made the laptop cool. He made the computer cool.”

“I think it’s an enormous loss,” said 83-year-old Fairfax resident Bert Morris, as he emerged from the store. “He was such a well-known business leader and that could turn out to be the biggest company in the world.”

San Rafael City Attorney Rob Epstein was shopping for a new laptop at the store and said Jobs “changed the world.

“He’ll certainly be missed,” Epstein said. “I don’t think there will be another one like him.”

Chris Harrell, a Terra Linda resident and general manager for iPhone case maker Incase, said he didn’t know Jobs personally but “his death hits hard.

“Steve’s vision, passion, and unflinching commitment to nothing less than excellence in all things he touched were very special, and they influenced everything that happened in the Valley and beyond in more ways than most people realize,” Harrell said in an email. “I think we’ll continue to see the effects of his genius for years to come.”

Tennessee Valley resident Mitchell Waite recalled meeting Jobs in the 1970s at the Homebrew Computer Club in the South Bay.

“Steve Jobs and (Steve) Wozniak came in one day with this board and they said, ‘We did it. We’re going to call it Apple,'” Waite said. “He gave a demo of it and it was really impressive.”

A year later Waite used his newly purchased Apple I to make a weather station on his Greenbrae houseboat, and Jobs arrived in a Volkswagen bus and jeans to check out the contraption.

“When we were walking down the boardwalk I go, ‘Steve, I really like the Apple I, and I want to write a book about it,'” Waite said. “He said, ‘Don’t write it about this one, but we have this new one coming out and it’s called the Apple II and it’s going to be even better.'”

Waite, who ran a publishing company for many years, said he followed Jobs’ work and life thereafter and was thrilled when the Apple co-founder featured his iPhone app “iBird” in a television commercial.

“It’s a very sad day, and I think the world’s lost an incredible inspiration,” said Waite, 65. “He was following a dream that he had, a very clear dream.

“There’s nobody like Steve Jobs — there never will be at least in our lifetime. The Henry Fords and Thomas Edisons, they don’t come around very often,” Waite added. “He died really too young. He was really getting started.”

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