iCame, iSaw, iConquered: Steve Jobs

You might be wondering what is Steve Jobs doing in a blog that revolves around Medicine and such things. One reason is that personally I happen to be greatly inspired by this man and another more important reason is that we’re not gonna talk much about computers and gadgets here but about the kind of person he was, how he was different and how he made a difference to the world.

Steve Jobs for Dummies

First let’s get a little idea about the achievements of Steve Jobs. You’ll find many websites that list his achievements but here I’ll try to write such that people who don’t know much about computers can also appreciate it.

1. Founded Apple

Apple Inc. is richer than the government of USA. The company doesn’t need any introduction. It is the personification of “brand following”. Millions of people buy their products simply because “Hey, it’s an Apple product.” This image was not formed overnight. No one had more job in this than Steve Jobs.
2. Invented the Computer

Though this is gross exaggeration, it is almost as if he did it. Computers before him were just big IBM machines used only professionally in big institutions. It can be said that he played “the” major role in making the computer a “personal computer” (though he never used that name and this name became famous as a rival to his Macintosh)

3. Founded Pixar Animation Studios

These people make a lot of animated movies we enjoy.

4. iPod

There were portable music players earlier but they weren’t good enough. It wasn’t a runaway success and people started criticising him, but soon they knew that it was after all Steve Jobs, we all know whether any other music player is as popular as the iPod.

5. Invented the touch-screen smartphone

This too is exaggeration, there were touch-screen phones and also smartphones earlier but they were as good as not being there at all. The day he announced the iPhone, he changed the mobile phone industry.

6. Invented the Tablet PC

This is the perfect example of his innovation. Again he showed the world what was good for them. This product (the iPad) was highly criticised. Everyone said that it was nothing but a giant smartphone. They saw it again. A whole new segment of electronics took birth. While other companies were releasing or just developing their first tablets, Apple was releasing it’s second version.

So, What’s the big deal about him?

Steve Jobs doesn’t remind me of a person who toils hard to achieve a bit of success, he reminds me of an artist who took pleasure in his work. He made his customers happy and simply took his money. He thought out of the box, did things people would find ridiculous. He didn’t let anything get in his way, he had to leave the very company he founded, he didn’t give up complaining but made himself such that the company itself called him back. He not only made new products but made them beautiful. He started the trend in everything like using graphics instead of boring DOS commands, beautiful fonts on computer screens, good looking and colourful computers and laptops. The rivalry between Apple and Microsoft is famous but he didn’t let it get in his way. When Apple was at a huge low and he needed to do something, he called up Bill Gates and made a deal with Microsoft.

I personally don’t use any Apple product simply because I’ve never felt the need or been able to afford one. I won’t buy one even if I have the money. I know that the brand name adds to the cost and for a geek like me, something that works so easily and effortlessly would be devastatingly boring! But it is the person Steve Jobs was that inspired me so much.

His speech at Stanford was one of the best I ever heard, his keynotes can be watched even for the sake of entertainment! And no one will be able to forget his “One more thing…”

Steve Jobs’ Medical Condition

Okay, so as this blog is more about medicine, I feel obliged to pay some attention to this aspect too. Though I never knew much about it, after some research I found it quite intriguing. Jobs has not been very open with the media about his health (and rightly so). One funny fact is that a newspaper actually published his obituary when he was alive! It had actually been prepared in advance as there were rumors about his bad health.

In his Stanford speech, Jobs says that he was diagnosed with some “extremely rare form of pancreatic cancer”. He was actually speaking about a neuro-endocrine cancer of the pancreas. As you know, the pancreas is predominantly exocrine with the endocrine part (Islets of Langerhans) constituting only 2% of the mass of pancreas. Rather than exocrine cancer, for which survival rate is very low and which is the fourth largest killing cancer in the world, Jobs had the cancer of the endocrine part. Cancers of neural or endocrine structures are together called “neuro-endocrine” cancers which are mostly benign and constitute only 5% of pancreatic cancer cases (remaining 95% cases being cancer of the exocrine part). He preferred a treatment by alternative medicine in the beginning. Fortunately, the need for chemotherapy or radiation therapy never arose (which have terrible side-effects you know).

In July 2004, Jobs underwent a surgery to remove the cancerous part called “Whipple’s procedure” or pancreatico-duodenectomy in which, as the name suggests, the head of pancreas is removed along with the duodenum. The duodenum has to be removed in spite of being so important because the pancreas head and duodenum are supplied by the same gastro-duodenal artery and the removal of only pancreas’ head would stop the blood supply to the duodenum and cause its necrosis. After Jobs underwent this procedure, he started to look quite frail which is obvious because the duodenum, in which major part of digestion of food takes place, is lost.

His body may have adapted itself to this as he later became healthy. In April 2009, he had a liver transplant but I can’t see any connection of this with his earlier health problems, which makes one suspect alcohol abuse leading to liver damage.

In January 2011, he again took medical leave and then resigned as CEO and passed away “peacefully, surrounded by his family” nine months later. The reason for his death hasn’t been explicitly mentioned. From the available hints, one can suspect nothing but a relapse of his cancer.

Legacy

Every soul has to taste death one day, yet a few continue to live in spite of going away. Steve Jobs will not live only in the name of his company and it’s products, but also in the minds of many whom he inspired and motivated to follow his footsteps.

As a final tribute, I would like you to watch this video which very fittingly attributes to the life of Steve Jobs, in the mesmerising voice of Carl Segan.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

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