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NEW YORK (RealMoney) -- Who 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. The stores have the greatest dollars-per-square-foot in sales anyone has ever had Was he our Thomas Alva Edison? I think so. He 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 were no need and it turns out they were necessities. He had vision. He had brilliance. He was otherworldly. Frankly, he was a creature of almost science-fiction legend. He has 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's 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 so that they were 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 for granted now, like the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. But they were invented once, too. Can you imagine if one man 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 and 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. Even 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 eight 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 -- $350 billion 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, as a 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 (AAPL) 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-rate syndrome, 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.
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