The combination of pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant meant the odds were inevitably stacked against him. (The immunosuppressants needed to prevent organ rejection would impair his immune system's ability to respond to a recurrence of the cancer, making a relapse much more likely.) In medicine, even great wealth can't buy miracles. There are no exotic magic bullets than can be yours for just a few million dollars more — just increasingly desperate experimental treatments that fail more often than not. In general, either we can treat a condition, and do so relatively cheaply, or we can't: the grim reaper is the ultimate equal opportunity employer.
He was by all accounts a driven man — not merely a workaholic, but a visionary with a touch of megalomania. Once his illness became public knowledge his level of activity, already frenetic, became that of a man desperate to complete his life's work. People like that don't go gently into the dark night. They don't leave the office unless they're dragged away on a stretcher. When he resigned as CEO of Apple in August, I expected him to be dead within a week; I'm surprised he lasted this long.
I'm typing this blog entry on a keyboard plugged into an Apple 23" Cinema Display fronting a late 2010 Macbook Air. On the desk to my left is an iPad 2: to my right, an iPhone 4. That alone should tell you what I think of the quality of the products he nurtured.
Even if you're not an Apple customer, the computer you're reading this on probably has a mouse attached to it, or is a tablet. In which case, you've benefited indirectly from the ideas he ruthlessly championed. Steve Jobs didn't invent the graphical user interface, or even manage the product development of the first computer Apple brought to market that had a GUI: but he pushed it forward, dragging it out of the lab and making personal computers accessible to hundreds of millions of ordinary people. He didn't invent the smartphone or the multi-touch interface either: but again, he saw potential and drove them in a direction that in hindsight should have been obvious to everyone, but that for some reason wasn't. Oh, and he bought a film studio and made some Oscar-winning movies along the way.
I will be very happy indeed if, when it's my time to go, I can do so in the knowledge that I've brightened the lives of even a thousandth as many people as Steve Jobs.