Steve Jobs remembered


Array of tech gadgets brought world closer

Reinaldo Santiago of Naugatuck, a high school teacher in Bridgeport, said his iPhone has become and indispensible part of his life, along with other Apple products, and Steve Jobs, who built the company into what it is today and lost his life to cancer on Wednesday, was an innovator who fundamentally changed the way people interact with each other. - RA ARCHIVE

Connecticut residents, far removed from Silicon Valley, took the loss of Apple’s co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs to heart, mourning a man they had never met who became icon of innovation and American can-do.

On Thursday, a glass jar of flowers had been placed just outside the Apple retail store in Westfarms Mall, one of many similar gestures seen around a world mourning the loss of a technological pioneer. Social networking sites Twitter and Facebook were packed with messages of mourning, “iSad” and variations on the theme.

At the Barnes & Noble cafe in Waterbury, Reinaldo Santiago of Naugatuck, taking a day off from teaching high school in Bridgeport, graded student papers and produced a well-worn iPhone to help explain his own sense of loss.

“He was a visionary,” Santiago said, comparing Jobs — as many did — to another icon of American invention and innovation Thomas Edison. “He’s changed our world.”

Santiago said there has always been an Apple in his house. He uses his iPhone, with a handy stopwatch built in, to time classroom exercises. On the drive home, he plays music.

Apple’s various devices, tablet computers, phones, computers, helped usher in the age of social networking and integrate electronic communication in popular culture. Apple, and its many imitators, have made touch screens and wireless communication an integral part of daily life.

“It kind of created an interconnected community,” Santiago said, reflecting on the ubiquitous presence of “iPads, iPods, ear buds everywhere. Everyone wanted to be part of it.”

In Southington, graphic designer Ed Tuttle, owner of Eklektos, said news of Jobs’ death Wednesday touched him more profoundly than he had expected, provoking an emotional response. Jobs, through his company, helped keep Tuttle in the business. Tuttle bought his first Apple in 1989 and has been a loyal customer ever since. At the time, Tuttle had been contemplating leaving the field, disenchanted as he was with the old-school methods of the profession.

“The advent of the (Apple) computer added an element of learning and excitement to the field that made me want to stay,” Tuttle said. “I really felt a real loss, almost as if he was a mentor or somebody that I knew.”

Lauren Moroniti, who studied business management in college and now works for a software firm, said she is not an Apple customer, but she is a fan of Jobs. She studied his career and “learned a lot from him.” She studied how Jobs took on the established giants of an emerging industry and changed the business forever. She posted a message on Facebook, sharing her sadness with the online world Jobs helped create.

“He was a visionary,” Moroniti said,

Back at the Apple store in Farmington, Central Connecticut State University student Caitlin Classey waited for a technician with an iPhone in her hand, its touch screen crisscrossed by a spider web of cracks. Classey said she had rushed to the store as soon as she dropped the phone.

“I felt like I was rushing someone to the hospital,” Classey said of the only Apple product she owns. “I’m not really an Apple freak.”

Another customer, Nancy Nickerson of Farmington, a year older than Jobs, who was 56, said she was saddened by the loss of a “brilliant” man.

“Young, way too young,” she said. “It’s just too bad.”

Nearby, Greg Johnson sat on the marble tile and typed away on an Apple laptop, seeking a job. Johnson said Jobs’ life was an example of what is possible for people who follow their dreams, and his death is a reminder that life is too short not to.

“We all have to go sometime,” said Johnson, 50, a veteran of the Marine Corps and a trained engineer seeking opportunities for his own reinvention. Johnson said he remained upbeat despite trouble finding work, convinced that opportunity will be there if he only persists. Like Jobs, he plans to follow his dreams.

“I think that’s more or less like a lesson for all of us to take,” Johnson said.

Nearby, a blue-shirted Apple worker swept the marble tiles just outside the store, carefully working around the glass jar of flowers.