Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Steve Jobs urged people to think different, and wowed them when his own different thinking put thousands of songs in their pockets, the power of the Internet at their fingertips and a whole world of possibilities in the palm of their hands.
For many, his vision resulted in more than another gadget. The tools inspired careers, opened doors for communication and fueled a new economy.
As Jobs admirers pay tribute to the computer wizard, the signs of his influence can be seen everywhere: A farmer in Arkansas monitors crops from the field on his iPhone. A North Carolina father develops an app that helps him communicate with his disabled son. A Silicon Valley technology worker uses an Apple program to disseminate lectures to people across the globe.
Brent Izutsu, the manager of Stanford on iTunes U, fondly recalls Jobs' stirring 2005 commencement address to Stanford University graduates.
"In his commencement address, which I've watched many times, Jobs mentioned you might as well do what you love because you have to do that for most of your life," Izutsu said. "Well, I guess that's what I'm doing every day. And that's thanks to him. It makes you feel good."
The Associated Press interviewed people across the country to see how their lives were affected by Jobs, the answers reveal his vast influence as a technology pioneer, an employer and an innovator.
APPLE IN THE EARLY DAYS
Jonathan Knowles describes the effect Jobs had on his life with one word: dominoes.
"One thing touched off something else and that touched off something else," Knowles said.
The first domino was the first Macintosh. Its ease of use and simple design hooked him, and that was when Knowles turned away from the biological sciences and to computer science.
Knowles was on the faculty at the Claremont Colleges when Apple Inc. recruited him 20 years ago. He moved to the San Francisco Bay area and more dominoes kept falling. He met his wife, and is now deeply involved in his community.
He worked for Apple for eight years in project management and consulting and ultimately worked closely with Jobs for about two years. He said while the technology drew him in, it was Jobs' passion that kept him engaged.
"I can't be the only one, of course, who credits Jobs with so much," Knowles said.
"It was his drive that made it happen and inspired me," Knowles added. "I'm just some guy out there in the world who sees this computer that he forced through with a Henry Ford-type attitude. He knew what people wanted even if they didn't. He knew what was possible."
Rene Lee says if not for Jobs, he might well be in engineering school now. The 26-year-old, who is studying at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, says while he was choosing his course of study in the early 2000s, Apple was just coming back after a slump.
"If it hadn't been for their success, it would have been a lot harder to convince my parents that art and design is a viable career choice," Lee said.
Lee was fortunate to work for Jobs during an internship last summer. He never met the man whom he says had a "huge impact" on his life, but his vision and presence were felt in everything that was worked on.
"Apple is a great example of how creativity can set you apart," Lee said. "Technology is not enough. It's all in how you humanize the technology."
A VITAL CONNECTION TO DISABLED SON
For Paul Pauca, admiration for Apple innovations goes beyond technology. They enabled him to help his disabled son.
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