Steve Jobs passing may be as good a date as any to mark ...
the end of the American Century.
Not to get into Apple fanboi stuff, but Jobs life and tenure parallels what may be the last gasp of economic satisfaction and superiority by the United States. First of all, Jobs grew up at a time when the states (especially California) were supportive of higher education. That brought forth the talent that, in Silicon Valley, got the computer revolution started. And then Jobs was part of the drive (by many others as well) that brought us much of the look and feel of so many electronic products that, for a while, were largely the province of American companies.
But that competitive advantage now appears to be over. Students have to pay much of the freight for a college education, a condition that is never good for a nation. The subsequent jobs risk going away to other parts of the world, which makes one wonder why bother with it at all. The rest of the world is catching up and is very hungry, and with unregulated globalization the competitive forces will be ferocious.
So maybe we can mark October 5, 2011 as an arbitrary - but reasonable - point in time when a distinctive American era ended.
Steve Jobs was truly one of America's innovators/entrepreneurs but he was not the first and he won't be the last.
What did Steve study in college. He explains it all in his famous Stanford commencement address.
... and speaking of Stanford. It is the university that I associate with Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley was an innovative place when Jobs was still a child with companies like Fairchild, Xerox, and Hewlett-Packard.