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Rant: The deification of Steve Jobs

This is an attempt to pop on record the proceedings in heaven on 5th October 2011.

It started out a very bleak day up round the pearly gates. A few lacklustre angels were singing some kind of dirge. A bunch of spiritual entities were milling round doing not a lot. And the sentry was trying to look like he wasn’t reading the Otherworldly Times.

That is, until the chap in the black polo turned up. He was a very thin fellow with round wire glasses and a sparse beard. Striding over to the desk, he kept twiddling his fingers as if he was confused to be empty handed.

“I’d like to be a god,” he said.

That instantly sparked off a heap of scuttling and whispering amongst the higher ups. It was the kind of direct request that used to come through virtually daily, a few thousand years prior, but there hadn’t been one in ages.

Eventually, the most officious looking of the celestial bods pushed the sentry out of his space, flapped him silvery wings to signify authority, and opened up a dusty ledger.

“Name?”

“Steve Jobs,” said the man.

“Eligibility?”

“Founder of the biggest tech company in the world…”

The cosmic type raised an eyebrow to that one and glanced at his friends. “Well,” he said “We’ll need to put this to the relevant council. Follow me.”

Steve Jobs clenched his fists and squeezed his ghostly facial muscles for a second. He looked as if he might be considering a tantrum. Then he nodded. The gates swung open: Jobs and a train of heavenly souls passed through.

It was some kind of holding area. The floor was clouds. The walls were clouds. And there was no shilly-shallying. They turned hard left down a corridor and powered quickly towards the entrance of an amphitheatre.

Inside, the large space was rammed. Hundreds of faces peered down from a dozen tiers. From an executive box, a very Victorian looking gentleman with a cravat and a pocket watch, rose to his feet:

“I’m Charles Babbage,” he said. “I shall be presiding - please take a seat.”

A lonely chair nestled in the wispy cloud floor at the centre of the amphitheatre. Hundreds of eyes watched as Steve Jobs confidently strode towards his place.

“Why should we make you a god?” asked Babbage.

“Well,” said Jobs spinning round, like a magician, to face every member of the audience. “I wanted to get computers in the hands of ordinary people… and I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.”

He paused for clapping, but none occurred, so he continued:

“Yes, I changed the face of computing for ever. It may have started small… but I built the biggest computer company the world has ever known.

“That’s impressive,” said a small rueful man with a side parting and 1940s suit. “But what was your role? Did you do any of the actual computing?”

“Pipe down Turing – let the man speak,” said Babbage curtly. “You’ve only just been let in here.”  

“Thank you, Mr Babbage,” said Jobs who seemed pretty in control of the situation and was standing straighter and taller by the minute. “But I don’t mind answering the question.”

“No, Mr Turing I didn’t do the actual computing. But I did build the biggest computer brand in the world. I made sure everything was perfect. Perfect. It was so perfect, it inspired love…”

Alan Turing muttered something underneath his breath but nobody took any notice as Steve Jobs was absolutely in charge of the show. Now arm aloft he unfurled his fingers. As he did so the clouds beneath their feet drifted apart. The amphitheatre let out a collective gasp.

Far below, the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York was bathed in weak sunlight. There were flowers, post-it notes and crowds in tears. A chorus wailed melancholically:  

“Steve is our god, Steve is our leader….”

Steve Jobs’ face, illuminated by lighted candles, beamed out of hundreds of open iMac laptop and iPads screens.

“My children,” said Jobs gazing lovingly, past the people, at all the devices on display.

“Yes, but what about your actual children?” heckled a lady with big circles of brown hair round her ears.

“Oh must you,” murmured Babbage underneath his breath.

Then resuming his usual booming tones: “You all know Ada Lovelace – the undisputed first lady of computing – and we don’t let many women in. Illegitimate daughter of Lord Byron, her mother forced her into science. And despite the matriarch’s fears of dad’s ‘literary insanity’ Ava’s bones are buried next to his. Make of that what you will…”

“Not relevant… sexism!” barked Lovelace. “We’re here to talk about Mr Jobs. And he didn’t have a great track record with relationships or his children…”

“Um, sorry to but in,” said a very mild looking fellow with tidy blonde hair loitering, by the doorway. “I know I’m not meant to be here, but I couldn’t help overhear…”

Tommy Flowers – you again – you’re getting everywhere these days,” exclaimed Babbage with some irritation. “This is meant to be a council of tech elders.”

“The thing is,” said Flowers powering through the negativity and manfully ignoring Jobs’ attempts to interject. “Of course, I don’t agree with his treatment of his family, but it is not really relevant to the story. His treatment of his own workers on the other hand is…”

“Well, Mr Jobs?” asked Babbage, frantic to regain control of the situation and stop any more interlopers.

“They all love me…” said Jobs holding out his arms messiah like.  “They love me. They love. They love meeeeee…”

There really was no contending with this. The chanting from the earth below was getting stronger. And the floor cloudy of heaven was starting to shake. 

“What does everyone think?” asked Babbage, by now slightly desperate.

“Steve for god!” yelled a few of the more tuneless out-wailers from below.

“Meeeeeeee…” lamented Jobs sprinkling a handful of divine raindrops on the earth below to seal the deal.

There was no other answer:

“Steve Jobs is a god!” snapped Babbage, pounding down his gavel.

“You’re free to go Mr Jobs… you can now commence your godly duties.”

 

Further reading:

Is Apple better or worse without Steve Jobs?
Apple: The legacy of Steve Jobs’ ‘inspirational’ leadership
Steve Jobs: The tech bully poster-boy

Tommy Flowers: The forgotten father of computing?
Tommy Flowers’ legacy: Computers vs. telephones

Why business women leave tech-intensive industries
InfoShot (July 2014): The number of women in big tech firms
Infographic summary: Our 2013 research on women in tech
Women in tech: does the shortage matter? (Full 2013 PDF research report)

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