I bought my first Mac in 1990, an SE 4/40. At that time, Steve Jobs had already been away from Apple for five years, and the company was alternating between successes and disasters.
By the time this computer needed replacing, Linux 1.0 had just been replaced, and I enthusiastically embraced the Linux world and put Apple behind me.
A few years later, Steve Jobs returned to Apple and eventually managed to turn the Macintosh into a useful computer again (the operating system had been getting slower and less stable starting with System 7 in 1991), but for a long time, the Mac seemed to appeal mainly to die-hard Apple fanboys – I was certainly never tempted to return to the fold, and my impression was that Apple was largely ignored by most people.
That changed with the introduction of the iPod and later the iPhone, both of which got huge followings. I’m convinced many modern Macintosh users only ditched their Windows computers because the iPod and iPhone had decontaminated the Apple brand.
However, I never really become a fan of Apple again – although I have an iPod Touch and a Mac Mini, I feel more attached to my Android phone and my Linux box.
I wonder what Steve Jobs will be remembered for in the longer term. My guess is that he won’t be seen as a great innovator, but rather as somebody who could spot the technologies that had the potential to appeal to non-techies. The Macintosh demonstrated that end-users liked graphical user interfaces, and Microsoft then created Windows; the iPod showed that people were ready for MP3 players; and the iPhone led the way in making people switch from ordinary mobile phones to smartphones.