Early morning news yesterday that the legendary Steve Jobs had passed away took a while to sink in - and then hit much harder than I would ever have imagined. I have never owned an Apple product and often had mixed feelings about the company whose name was synonymous with the man.
Yet after pausing for a few minutes of reflection, it dawned on me that although I had never owned anything sporting an Apple logo, I had over the years acquired, and worked on, innumerable products that were dragged to market by companies playing catch-up with Apple.
The ubiquitous Windows operating system that drives almost all computers in this country was devised by Microsoft in a desperate attempt to match the advanced graphic user interface deployed by Apple in the 80s.
My first ever experience with a real personal computer - I had fiddled with Ataris, Commodores and Sinclairs before - was in December 1985 when someone allowed me to play on an Apple Macintosh for a night.
It completely redefined the concept of a night of ecstasy - pictures that could be manipulated on-screen with a mouse!
Jobs will be remembered as a visionary who could turn great ideas into reality.
Having ideas alone seldom takes anyone very far: it was his ability to make things happen that distinguished im from the rest of us. Ironically, his great inspiration was death - explained in this often quoted extract of a commencement speech he delivered at Stanford University in 2005:
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
There has already been a massive outpouring of grief and condolences for Jobs's passing. President Barack Obama, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and media magnate, Rupert Murdoch, are but a few of the high-profile individuals who have expressed their dismay at his death. The Google website carries a discrete link marked Steve Jobs: 1955-2011 on the front page of its search engine. The link takes users directly to the front page of the Apple website, which displays a large black-and-white photograph of the legendary innovator.
Perhaps the reason Jobs's death affected me so intimately was because we share a first name and he was just five months younger than I am.
Or maybe it was because he was such an inspiring thinker in a time when there is a dearth of inspiration.