Steve Jobs

apple-computer-logo.jpgI have no particular standing to speak -- I met him only twice for interviews, once in the early 1980s at Apple, when it had the logo at right, and again in the late 1980s at NeXT -- but wanted to register what surprisingly sad news this is. My sympathies and best wishes to his wife and children.

To what everyone else will say about Steve Jobs's influence on design, technology, and business, I'll add only two things. One, I imagine that people all around the world are struck by this loss. Of Americans in his era, he is one of a handful who had the greatest and most visible effect on people he had never met in countries he had never visited. I think he is recognized worldwide for his individual traits, and for the particular Apple corporate culture -- but also as quite distinctly an American. Biological son of a Syrian immigrant, raised by adoptive parents, college dropout (Reed!), serial re-inventer of his businesses and himself. He could not have done what he did if he were any different person, and he could not have done it anywhere else.

Second, his Stanford Commencement speech, featured now in our Video channel and shown after the jump, is among the few of that genre that bear listening to long after original delivery. Its last part is poignant now, but it all contains things I would want graduates to hear, and to remember myself.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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