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He Lived His Dash


In Werner Herzog's latest documentary there's a line that struck me: live your dash. "Dash" meaning the hyphen on a tombstone between the two years. Steve Jobs lived his dash well.

I met Steve twice, years ago. First time was in 1991, at NeXT's gleaming white offices in Redwood Shores, while I attended NeXT Developer Camp. The tradition at DevCamp was that Steve would join the developers for a dinner one evening, but his schedule didn't permit it so we were all invited into one of NeXT's conference rooms near the famous supportless concrete stairway that was the architectural centerpiece of the company's office building (though, I was equally impressed with floor-to-ceiling whiteboard wall surfaces, which I'd seen at only one other place years earlier: Xerox PARC). Inside, Steve was demoing NeXTStep to Phil White, then CEO of Informix. We all watched as he walked through the NeXTStep OS and series of apps.

Then in 1993 my wife and I got to meet Steve as he was walking the Moscone Center exhibition hall before his NeXTWORLD EXPO event opened to the public. Coconut Computing, our company, had a booth at the conference; we were exhibiting the NeXTSTEP version of our COCONET software. Steve was absolutely beaming. He'd just had a baby, NeXTSTEP for Intel processors was being introduced, thousands of attendees showed up for his conference, and things were still looking bright for NeXT

, though not for long. I still own two Canon Object.stations and an Intel pizza box running NeXTSTEP (if only the disk drives still worked).

Millions of people to this day are unaware how important NeXT was and is to Apple. MacOS X is essentially NeXTSTEP; every Objective C developer is familiar with the NS prefixes to all of Apple's MacOS and iOS software development APIs.

Thanks for the inspiration and changing the world, Steve.

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