Editor's note: This piece was authored by Josh Peterson, an intern at the Heritage Foundation Center for Media and Public Policy.
“To anyone who tells you that America's best days are way behind her; that we no longer lead the world, please give them one name: Steve Jobs,” said Mike Gonzalez, vice president of communications at The Heritage Foundation.
In this time of economic crisis, Jobs’ legacy is not simply one example of technological innovation and success; his pursuit of the American dream defined a generation the way only an American is capable of doing. While the world embraced him as their own, his vision and accomplishments were nurtured by principles distinctly red, white and blue.
Jobs’ biological mother chose life over a 1955 back-alley abortion. She, an unmarried graduate student, recognized his unalienable right to life and gave him up for adoption to parents who promised to send him to college. During his now legendary tenure as a college dropout in the 1970s, he received his “one good meal a week” at the local Hare Krishna temple – a religious establishment allowed to operate freely thanks to the religious liberties fundamental to this country. His personal ideals were expressed during a June 2005 commencement address to Stanford University, delivered one year after he was diagnosed with cancer that would later claim his life: stay hungry, stay foolish and don’t settle. The American spirit of individualism and the pursuit of happiness characterized the products he made and the way he made them: they were meant to be personal, bringing the world and the power to engage with it to a person’s finger tips.
The first Macintosh was introduced to the world more than 27 years ago on Jan. 24, 1984, during the Reagan economic boom. Jobs successfully accomplished what no other computer engineer had done previous to him: he created a personal computer marketable to the average consumer. Jobs brought high technology into the home, an arena into where Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates would follow him. The American Founders believed in commerce, not conquest, and Jobs helped further urge America toward the manifestation of that vision.
As much as the last decade has been defined by warfare and terror, it has also been Apple’s decade. Within a month after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Apple unveiled the iPod. We all know the rest: then came the iTunes Store, the iPhone and the iPad. These are to name only a few of the many his accomplishments.
Steve Jobs’ life serves as an inspiration as American’s look within to see if they are still the city on a hill the world looks to for leadership. While comparisons float around between this current economic crisis and the Great Depression, we must remember the current generation had one person the1930s did not: Steve Jobs. In his last few years, he brought to the world technology from the future by redefining the intricately complex into that which was intimately simple. Arguably one of the greatest inventors since Thomas Edison, he made it possible for one person to contain more computing power in the palm of their hand than it took to land a man on the moon, and look good while doing it.
Jobs was an American hero; as the younger generation of American innovators comes of age, the world is left in his wake. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, born only four months after Jobs introduced Macintosh, wrote on his Facebook profile, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”