Industrial automation is a PC-centric technology. I can still remember the ARC Forum in Orlando in 1999 when the evangelists from Sun thought there was still a chance for Java (they kept thinking it was an operating system) and “the network is the computer” only to be confronted by speaker after speaker talking about how they’ve ported their applications to Microsoft Windows on the PC.

We got in the habit already in the late 80s differentiating the PC from the Mac. This existed through the famous PC vs. Mac commercials of a few years ago.

But I had an Apple II by 1984. It was a marvelous machine. Up until then I had used a mini-computer for work and hobbyist computers to play with (remember the Timex Sinclair anyone?). I’ve followed Steve Jobs ever since. And I’ve never really been surprised (other than his banishment from Apple and then his return). Because he has held true to his core vision for his entire adult life. And that vision has brought many wonderous devices. I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro. My iPad is beside it–where I just finished reading my news feeds. Soon, I’ll go out for a run in the park listening to podcasts on my iPod Touch. Only thing I don’t have is an iPhone (maybe the iPhone 5 on Verizon?).

Most effective CEOs are people you never hear about. The ones who seek headlines seldom have staying power. Maybe they are strong in the short term, but they always flame out. Not Steve Jobs. His passion and vision have kept him focused not so much on himself as his goal. We’d all like to be like him. Almost none of us can.

The best report I have read overnight comes from Rex Hammock. I second much of what he had to say. Check it out. On that humble Apple II from 1984-1987 while I worked at Cardinal Production Equipment, we found a better way to prepare quotes, shipped documents back and forth with a remote engineer via modem, managed cash flow in a $10 million (1985 numbers) company, developed a project management tool. And on it I found it much easier to keep track of the soccer referee assignments I made, send mailings to the members (remember life before email?), and manage much of my personal business.

Thanks, Steve. I think Apple will survive a long time. But we’ll miss the vision.

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