By now, most of us know the broad strokes of Steve Jobs’s biography. There was the early friendship with Steve Wozniak and a formative trip to India. The wild success of the Apple II--and then the disappointing follow-ups. The ouster; the time at NeXT and Pixar; the return to Apple, and the string of fantastic products that followed. And then, of course, the illness. But even if you’ve heard all that before, this interactive online memorial, rendered as a pixel-perfect simulation of the original Macintosh OS, is still worth a few minutes of your time.
The site separates Jobs’s life into folders, with each milestone presented as its own program. They’re all there: the LSD, the Super Bowl ad, the iPod, and even the Reality Distortion Field. You can double click to open one for a bit more information, or navigate the icons with your keyboard, just like the real thing. It’s a fitting format for the tribute. For all of Apple’s contributions to technology, popularizing the graphical user interface is arguably the most important, and the throwback site offers a nice reminder of just how far personal computing has come in the last 30 years--and how instrumental this one man was to so many of those leaps forward.
The page was created by the folks at Rememberum, a new service which lets people build online memorials for loved ones. "We knew right away that it was the right way to present the site," says Daniel Eckler, Rememberum’s founder. The team came up with the idea last year and hoped to finish it in time for the one year anniversary of Jobs’s death, but they took their time to make sure they got the classic Mac OS look just right.
Of course, the memorial is also a way to draw attention to Rememberum itself. "Our mission is oriented around helping people remember their loved ones," says Eckler. "Tombstones and urns don’t do a great job of this. Funerals are a one-time thing. And obituaries are extremely expensive, and extremely out-dated." Though the site’s still in its early stages, Eckler thinks online memorials could become a new sort of obituary for the Internet age--"a solid first step in helping people remember their loved ones in an easy, inexpensive, and beautiful way."
Who knows if that idea will catch on. I’m not sure I want my loved ones ending up as just another tab in someone’s overstuffed web browser. But the simple fact that we have the ability to make those types of publishing tools, compared to where we were in 1977 with the Apple II, is a testament to Steve Jobs’s vision.