How can I start this post? Many others are starting by saying how everyone else is paying tribute. Accolades come in from friends, colleagues, adversaries, etc. We remember him for the products that he made. But I also remember this about Steve Jobs - he was a clear thinker.
It's true that he had a profound effect on the products that Apple created. It's true that he had the famous Reality Distortion Field when he presented his next big thing. We shouldn't forget that he wasn't the only person on the design team - others were involved. But here's what I remember - he was a clear thinker.
Singularly clear. Clear in a way that somehow cut through everything else said about whatever subject and somehow got straight to the real issue. There aren't many people who possess that ability. Obviously, I, like most people, never met him. I have been using machinery that he was involved in for most of my life, and all of my professional life. His design team have created products that have made my life better, more productive and generally enjoyable to get work done with. Why? Because he was a clear thinker.
I can only speculate, but I expect that he would be the kind of man that would be able to actually focus his mind on a thing, and actually really think about it and nothing else. Alone. Without being distracted by other projects, or dreams about the future or whatever. He was a clear thinker. I believe that he was able to hit that sweet spot that we designers love to be in, "the zone," a lot more often and for a longer length of time than most people on the planet. Surely that must have been the reason that the Apple products are far and away better than everyone else's. Especially in terms of design, which is that thing that nobody really notices until it is done badly... How many times have you heard someone complain about some device and exclaim"Arrrrrggh! Why did they design it like this?!??!?" Design goes unnoticed until it's done badly.
Apple designs by taking away as much as possible. This leads to products that generally do whatever they do really, really well. Why has this been possible? Because the man at the top was a clear thinker. His ability to think in such a way meant that his role must have been of both idea generation and curation. Curation of both his own ideas and of others'. What an amazing talent.
I expect that over the last several years, the team at Apple has been carefully picked and trained try to replace his role, and as each individual is unique, each will have good things to bring forth. But because everyone is unique, there will never be another Steve Jobs.
I am truly saddened by his passing. 56 years old is not old at all. The world has lost a genius and we are worse off for it. But like he said at the famous Stanford speech, death is perhaps life's best invention - it is the agent of change. There is room for another to take a role in changing the world like this non-celebrity celebrity.
If some of us can believe it, we might be able to change the world, but we will have to follow in his footsteps, not just to "Think Different," but to think clearly.