Jobs was the best America had

The uniquely American Apple visionary transcended even our greatest industrialists, from Ford to Rockefeller, making the impossible simple.

By Jim Cramer Oct 6, 2011 8:53AM

the streetWho was Steve Jobs? Was he our Henry Ford? Let’s see, Ford did create a car for the masses, he made it possible for every American to afford a vehicle, which democratized transportation.

 

Was he our Sam Walton? Perhaps. Walton created a national chain of stores that democratized what it took to get a job in this country. Walton offered affordable clothing for men and women and children. The impact? You could look for a job and no one could judge you, because you looked like all of those who had made it.

 

Before Walton it often cost too much for regular people to dress up to the level of white collar. This was an amazing gift for those who otherwise could never get in the door of a white-collar institution or prosper in a job interview without being prejudged. I like the analogy, made more pertinent by the fact that Jobs was arguably the greatest retailer of his time, too. Apple (AAPL) stores have the greatest dollars-per-square-foot in sales anyone has ever seen.

 

Was he our Thomas Alva Edison? I think so. Edison brought a power plant to your house. At least that’s what people thought you had to do before Edison. Maybe Alexander Graham Bell? Again, the democratization of talk -- only the rich could communicate with any cogency before him.

 

Oh sure, he’s also Carnegie when it came to rationalizing the steel industry, and Rockefeller when it came to the drilling, processing and selling of oil.

 

I mention all of these men only to put Steve Jobs in the pantheon of industrialists.

 

Now I want to smash that pantheon.

 

As great as all of those men were, as tremendous as their achievements might have been, Jobs transcended all of them. He created machines that made the impossible simple. He created machines that brought the democratization of thought to all. He created machines for which there was no need, and it turns out they were necessities.

 

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He had vision. He had brilliance.

 

He was otherworldly. Frankly, he was a creature of almost science fiction legend. He had special powers.

 

Think about it. When we think of technology we think of individual achievements, bits of progress that allowed us to process more and more data.

 

That was child’s play for Jobs.

 

He created an ecosystem that allowed all people to figure out everything. Sure, Intel (INTC) and Microsoft (MSFT) harnessed power in smaller form factors from the behemoths that were invented by IBM (IBM). But they harnessed them only in ways that were too difficult for so, so many.

 

Not Jobs.

 

He created them to be simple machines. It is as if Jobs invented the wheel, and the wedge, the screw, the pulley, the lever and the inclined plane. We take them all for granted now, like the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad, but those basic tools were invented once, too. Can you imagine if one man had invented all of them? Would you still think that he was only as good as Ford or Carnegie? Bell?

 

Of course it wasn’t enough that the devices worked. They were brilliant to look at. Attractive by nature. As if they were feats of nature. Lyrical even.

 

It’s as if he invented devices like Mozart and Beethoven wrote music. More so: Beethoven’s best work was accomplished when he went deaf while writing the Pastoral Symphony. How much more did Jobs give us when he got his death sentence 8 years ago? A fury of invention buttressed by a level of courage that is unimaginable given the pain he must have endured.

 

Oh, and just for the moment, let’s talk about wealth creation. Three hundred and fifty billion dollars’ worth of it. He has paid for more tuition and more retirement and more vacations and more meals on the table than anyone ever, maybe more than Edison, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Walton and Bell combined. Empirically. Commercial success? Best ever.

 

Yes, he had special powers. He saw what we would need four or five years ahead of us. He had special powers. He could see around corners and know how to make the most difficult of technologies accessible to even the youngest of our population. He had special powers. He could create with courage and bravery when others would have folded under the physical pressure of his horrid illness.

 

Jobs?

 

I don’t think we are smart enough to really understand what he did on Earth.

 

We only have a glimpse. And the glimpse we have is blinding in its beauty and success and intelligence.

 

I can’t insult his memory with a “he will be missed.” Or, “Apple will not be the same.”

 

I just want to stand in awe for a bit. And pay homage. We should all pay homage for what he did for hundreds of millions of people around the globe.

 

Oh, and yes. In an era where we seem almost ashamed of ourselves in America, where we are so self-critical and so imbued with second-ratedness, can we just remember that Jobs was uniquely American and be proud of that?

 

He was the best we had.

 

At the time of publication, Cramer was long AAPL and IBM.

jim cramer
Jim Cramer
is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for his charitable trust.

11Comments
Oct 6, 2011 9:55AM
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Edison gave the world light, Job gave us the light of information and imagination.
Oct 6, 2011 2:27PM
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Jim, this is your finest hour, submerging your own strong ego and allowing it to be transcended by your abject recognition of a better man.

 

 

Oct 6, 2011 10:11AM
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I am of two minds:

 

Many men, some women, will opine about Jobs, know doubt a brilliant, sweet, and creative soul outside the realm of any thing usual- flew above the rest as thinker, inventor, even perhaps as soulsearcher- seeing himself in a meaningful context, influencing others responsibly and all the rest.

 

But what is it about people who believe that they can give words to faith and meaning, that we can

name others and capture the whole or the truth of what they represented?    Many many people are great, transcend any words or representation of their works, they live each day and eat their pain, they learn from what is difficult, maintain their dignity, offer integrity, and model and give to others in small or huge ways.    There are many who are smart, good, share, and have alot of creative work to offer the world- thank these people, celebrate them, encourage them while they live, help the young to see how to grow and that mentoring/modeling/educating/teaching/giving is the greatest gift any one of us mere mortals can receive....   Blessed be to Steve's family, and go forward and emulate your own best selves!

Smile

Oct 6, 2011 4:24PM
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Thanks Cramer, Hopefully history will remember him as such. 
Oct 6, 2011 5:18PM
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It is a bit premature to beatify Steve Jobs.  He was more like the Wizard of Oz than anything else.  His basic design philosophy was to provide a product, and tell people what it did, but not how it did it (lest they find out about the man behind the curtain).  Prior to Apple, computers were something almost magical that required a great deal of specialized knowledge to make them useful, this was by design so the "experts" had job security.  The Apple IIc made computers available to the masses, and the development of the Macintosh kept simplifying the user interface to appeal to ever broader segments of the market.  The whole i-__ series of products is the culmination of this philosophy. 

 

"You ask for what you want, we'll tell you the device to buy, and the programs you need to install from our store, and the device will do what you ask (and nothing more).  If enough people gripe about us not having a device to do something, then we'll build a device that will do that thing and sell it to them."

 

The question that will become obvious going forward is what happens to Oz once the Wizard is gone?  Does the management team left behind understand this philosophy, or are they going to start asking more and more of the user like they did the first time Jobs left (which nearly killed the company).

Oct 7, 2011 12:45PM
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jobs was a user of others inventions like most business people ( the smart ones ).  he mad a lot of money doing it and good for him.

 

he does not belong on the same page with bell and edison and tesla.  the stuff that apple does well is marketing...

Oct 6, 2011 2:21PM
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All of what you say here, Jimbo, are sure signs that Apple CANNOT be the same company without Jobs and innovate as he did. GE and Microsoft are much diminished since Welch and Gates left, so why would Apple do better than those without Jobs? It won't.
Oct 6, 2011 11:40AM
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Sam Walton bypassed American labor rights by making it common place for us to accept products made by people who treated unfairly.  You can't buy ANY shirt when your job is lost - that's the lesson of the last 20 years.  If anyone compares me to Sam Walton after I die I'll vomit in my grave. 
Oct 6, 2011 12:42PM
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Jobs was a hard woking ,smart man It is sad that he was not a cancer research peson ,may be he would still be breathing , Sorry people .. But Jimmy, that 4% rule you mentioned last night on Mad Money , Jimmy Jimmy have you been smoking dope again, you know you should not mix that stuff with your other Meds. I feel the brokers should be doing well enough , What about cramerica Jimmy,are you going to feed your little bunnys to the wolfs, Jimmy your not making friends and your not finding any bulls .  You are sounding and looking like  bozo    , Smile one second than rant and rave the next , You and Santili    You make me laugh   , what is amazing is how you manage to keep your gig , mabe your rating are good , I watch 10 minutes of your show twice a week ,go figure

Oct 6, 2011 12:56PM
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Godamighty, Cramer do go on.

 

Jobs, in his encore appearance with Apple, was an avatar of the wretched excess wing of Gadget World.

 

It's a bit unseemly - or at the least, premature - to begin composing these Tales of the Brave Steven simultaneous with such bowing and scraping.

Oct 6, 2011 12:44PM
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Disagreed. Not to take from the mans obvious great accomplishments as both HMI (muman/machine interface) innovator and business person. Jobs simply did the equivalent of putting racing stripes on a John Deere tractor for the most part. Oh and by the way that'll cost you a 25% premium. While Apple has undoubtedly played a hand in bringing modern HMI to the hands of the public the companies true genius lies in the artsy design and marketting not the technology. Jobs pioneered making geeks and their tools of the trade cool but I'm not sure it's historically significant. 

 

RIP Steve.

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