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The Life And Legacy Of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computers, is dead at age 56. We’ll take a look at his life and legacy.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference in 2007 (AP)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference in 2007 (AP)

There are figures in the history of American innovation so large they reshape the world they touch. One died yesterday. Apple visionary Steve Jobs. He was 56. He started Apple in a California garage with Steve Wozniak when he was 21.

In August he was still in the saddle as legendary CEO. News of his death will come to millions on their iPhones. Their iPads. Their iPods. The path-breaking digital icons that Steve Jobs envisioned and brought to life. For many, he was American innovation.

This hour On Point: we look at the life, the legacy, the lessons of Steve Jobs.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Leander Kahney, editor and Publisher of the Apple-centric Blog, cultofmac.com.

Nancy Koehn, historian and professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School.

Lev Grossman, senior Writer at Time Magazine. He blogs for Time Magazine’s Techland. His cover story on Steve Jobs will come out tomorrow.

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

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.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=582485948 Scott Ralph
  • Anonymous

    Steve had vision of Quality and a commitment to Users that Gates never really got. Gates was about dominance and Winning. I hope Steve’s engineering philosophy will survive as Apple continues to evolve as it competes with Microsoft.
    I just wish Steve had relaxed his tenacious grip on Apple’s high priced hardware which retarded Apple’s growth for many years. If Apple had captured a greater market share, the (PC) world I believe, could only have become a much, much better place as Apple’s quality stands in stark contrast to the corporate rubbish from Redmond.

    • Hidan

      Really now? come on Jobs just adopted much of what Gates did and would have failed if labor laws were in place in China and even still up to this day esp. Apple is using sweatshops.

      previous example of this year,

      http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/021511-apple-child-labor.html

      “In Apple’s “Supplier Responsibility” internal review released today, the company said that the factory accounted for nearly
      half of the 91 underage workers its contractors employed in 2010 to build products such as iPhone smartphones, iPad tablets and Macintosh computers”

      • Gary

        well, Paul Krugman supports sweatshops…what do you need to teach Krugman about economic development?

      • Anonymous

        Really now, really? Having worked in enterprise OS, S/W
        & H/W R&D for over two decades, those of us who witnessed the evolution
        of computers from the inside often observe that the more computers change, the
        more they stay the same. I don’t know of anything Gates delivered that was not
        envisioned in the annals of computer science or invented many years ago in
        places like Xerox PARC. I don’t know that Jobs took credit for anything more
        than making things better through aggregation, augmentation and refinement.
        Gates on the other hand gave us the 640k barrier, blue screen of death and a
        security model so good that most of my PC’s cycles are consumed scanning for
        malware.

         

        In contrast to the story of Jobs driving his developers to
        get their OS to boot faster, how many lifetimes have been needlessly wasted by
        PC users waiting on MS PCs lost is space? Perhaps they were lost daydreaming
        about being an Apple? A commitment to quality, a commitment to the users was
        all it took, but world domination has always taken priority in Gates’ empire.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Steve Jobs gave me my first Macintosh computer in 1984 at the West Coast Computer Faire. I had a trip planned to rural Alaska to work with children and adults with learning disabilities, told him I’d like to take a then brand new Macintosh with me along with the 10 Compaq computers I had (the old ones with the small screens).

    In a few minutes he understood what I was doing and had a Macintosh sent to my house in Oregon for me to take on the trip (and keep).

    That computer changed my life even more than the Apple II, Kaypro, IBM PC and other early computers I’d had, and it set me on a course that would allow me to change the lives of tens of thousands of people all over the world. That course led me back to Apple where I worked as a consultant to their Education and Special Education Group for fifteen years.

    In those days what Jobs did for me was called “evangelism” and Apple became famous for choosing the right people to seed with their technology so it would spread in unusual domains. The “Think Different” ad campaign was the culmination of this.

    I know Steve Jobs could be arrogant and rough with folks at meetings but I never experienced this side of him in the two times I met him over the years. He understood what I wanted to do and was delighted that I chose to use Apple technology to do it.

    My experience with him was a single, personal example of his ability to quickly look at a situation and influence it in a way that would spread the word about Apple but also help the person spreading the word.

  • Jasoturner

    I remember back it the days when I worked in the printing industry and we got a Macintosh to essentially replace a lot of typesetting work.  It was pretty amazing at the time.  I suppose Apple probably affected a majority of Americans at one time or another over their lives.  That’s a pretty amazing legacy.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Jason: If you remember, Aldus released their PageMaker software and Apple had their first LaserWriter printer and together those two products (and a 512K Macintosh) created the desktop publishing industry.

      I’m not sure who at Apple coined the phrase “desktop publishing” but it was genius and as you say, it changed an entire industry.

      Arguably Jobs got pieces of the idea for this combination of tools (laser printer, digital typesetting, spline-based typography, page layout software) from his early visit to Xerox PARC but of course, PARC never did anything with these technologies and neither did Xerox. It was Jobs who had the vision of an entirely new industry and in fact, that industry happened rather quickly in the late 1980s.

      • Dan

        You should read Dealers of Lightening. Jobs wasn’t the only one with “vision”. He just wasn’t stuck within a corporate environment that struggled to re-imagine itself (Xerox).

  • Hidan

    Come on people the guy used child and sweatshop labor to succeed, even when finally successful again still used such pratices. Yea it’s cool he help produced some new gadgets, but really at what cost and does that excuse the method he (among others) used to get there?  Gates created a fondation that helps the poor worldwide while much of the investment of the same foundation are with companies that hurt those same poor.

    It’s disgraceful how some idolize this guy. Sad he died but there’s more to the story than some great innovator.

    • Guest

       would WBUR finally ban this idiot for good!

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    In light of all the negative comments about the “Tom Friedman Hour” let’s all join together and double-dog-dare Tom to go mobile with his show (for a full two hours) to the park in New York where the protestors are either trying to save America or prove why we are doomed. Jury is still out for me.

    • TFRX

      A live radio appearance (without the need for loyalty oaths) would be a welcome tonic.

      You know, though, that he’ll have written five columns fixating on the chat he says he had with the cabbie driving him there before he ever steps foot on the pavement.

  • Anonymous

    If On Point had to replace one of the two hours to cover this, why cancel the one on the Republican candidates and not the one with that charlatan Deepak Chopra?  (I never thought that I’d ever write that I would prefer to listen to Republicans!)

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    From BBC reporter James Camarazani this morning,
    “There have been three apples that changed the world, Eve’s, Newton’s and Steve Jobs”.

    I have always thought myself to poor to own a cell phone let alone an Iphone. Job’s commencement address has convinced me I should have gotten one years ago. His words gave me chills. Thanks for the new perspective Steve. I didn’t know you, but I do now. charles

  • Cory

    I’m blown away by the coverage of this story.  I heard one commentator say “if there is no heaven when he gets there, Steve Jobs will create one”.  Another compared him favorably to the cultural influence of John Lennon.

    I see a combination of Harlan Sanders and P. T. Barnum (perhaps without the longevity of either).

    Our hero worship is so screwed up in this country.  Condolences to his family and friends, but the foundations of western civilization will not crumble from his loss.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      The guy just died. Have a heart for once in your life.

      It’s not about hero worship, he had a profound effect on an industry that’s had a profound effect on the world. It’s that simple.

      • Cory

        I’ll stand by the idea that this story is way overplayed.  I’m more impressed with the poor nameless shmoe who is loyal to his wife, raises his kids the best he knows how, and works hard everyday to facilitate the lives of his family.

        Are you saying that dissenters to the idolytry need not post today?

        Profound effect?  I’ll match his effect with the philanthropy of Carnegie, Rockefeller, and even Gates.

        • JustSayin

          Amen brother! These things are ALWAYS way overblown. 

          Its pagan idolatry.  A intelligent and driven man, who despite the talented labor and intelligence of thousands of workers was able to build, design, and deliver products to the world… all by himself.

          Will there be a movement to Canonize him like was wanted for princess Diana.

          Why do people let emotions override rationality.

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          Again, a guy died and you know little about him. Maybe just consider having some respect, for him but also for those of us who knew more about him.

          I don’t worship him as a hero but he was a visionary and he affected my life directly.

          • Cory

            With all due respect, you don’t know what I know.  I’m not showing disrespect toward Steve Jobs.  I’m calling this media response silly and overblown.  If you felt a special connection to him, you have my condolences.  I wonder is the death of Thomas Edison left so many Americans in tears.  

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            The media is the media. Have respect for the fact that many of us have had our lives changed by him either directly, or indirectly by using products he had something to do with designing.

    • Fred

      There’s hero worship and then there’s remembering a guy whose technology innovations have made the world far more connected and help users get access to far more useful information wherever they are.  Clearly your comments are simply to stir the pot.

      • Cory

        Read through the posts here and check out the mass media.  Bigger influence than John Lennon…  The father of modern innovation…  if he doesn’t find heaven he’ll invent it…

        These aren’t my words.  People are just being silly about this.

      • Dan

        Steve Jobs invented the internet and Google?

        • Larryidaho

          Last I checked you couldn’t access the internet and use Google while mobile using a banana or a comb in your pocket.  Typically you need a mobile electronic device.  Perhaps your world is different.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            I don’t search the Internet while I’m driving, nor do I have a desperate need to be connected at every moment of my life.  I am not Borg.

          • Marcus

            I re-read Larryidaho’s comment a couple of times but didn’t see him write anything about needing to be connected at every moment.  Try to comment only when you can add value.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            How about you do the same.  His comment was about the value of mobile electronic devices.  What’s the need for mobility if not for being connected continuously?

          • Marcus

            “What’s the need for mobility if not for being connected continuously?”  Obviously you meant to write something else because this comment makes no sense.  Take your time and try again.

    • fishmonger

      Cory, I very rarely agree with most of your posts, but in this case we are in 100% agreement. No doubt the guy was a creative genius and changed tons of lives for the better. But let’s stop acting like Gandhi just died.

      I don’t hear anyone mentioning that Jobs instituted a “no philanthropy” policy at Apple. Always goes over well for a billionaire. Contrast that with what Bill Gates has done in his personal life

      • Cory

        For the record, I’d feel the same if Bill gates got this divinity treatment.

  • David McAlpine

    Losing Steve Jobs is a lot like losing John Lennon. They both brough a lot of heart and soul to what they did and like them their legacy lives on through all of us. Rest in peace Steve.

    • Roy Mac

      And they both used Apples.

    • Dan

      Yes, I can just imagine Howard Cosell announcing in hushed tones on Monday Night Football that the guy who made your cell phone has died and the country falling into mourning.

  • Noreen

    Steve Jobs stole the lightening and gave it to the
    people.  It used to be the province
    of governments to control and access the knowledge of the universe gained from
    computers.  It was in massive
    establishments housing computers that weighed tons that the privileged were
    allowed to peek into the light, but Jobs captured that capability in the small
    for the common man-creating the personal computer for the masses, the Apple
    computer.  Content was king, with a
    “desktop” interface to the computer that was intuitive, with an
    operating system the worked smoothly, with programs that talked to us and
    understood our words, and databases that put vast collections of music at our
    fingertips in a new type of digital store, iTunes.  Then he showed us how to carry that power in our pockets,
    first the iPod, then the iPhone, now the iPad.  He gave the gift of the gods to the multitude.

    • Dave Ransom

      I like Noreen’s reference to Steve Jobs’ genius and government control. i would like to broaden that perspective. I see as do you the “connection” is the modern word, with Arab Spring, Protests for peaceful solutions, Occupation Wall Street, government and social change. Humans have become drunk with power throughout history, become arrogant, aloof, dissociated, warlike, invaders, occupiers and eventually crumble under the weight of their own ego-mania or tight little company of control. After the horrors of historic conflicts along the same lines, one empire after another, we came to war against our European motherlands and our knowledgeable Native American hosts and hostesses. Leaders, who are ‘can do” or “have wherewithal” people, stepped forward to frame a document, flawed to be sure- as with huge arguments over slavery. In the document the basis became an onus placed upon themselves to develop patterns of shared leadership and shared responsibility and shared responses to life’s events and meanings. “Of”, “By”, and “For” “the PEOPLE” expressed that dynamic and maintained that focus even beyond their own ego-strengths, privileges, powers, and stations in life. It was a humbling moment to realize that “who I am” and “what I have” isn’t all “for me”.—Meanwhile, “back at the ranch” of our story, came more geniuses, fighting the same battle as had been done through warfare and declaration, framed in more wars and more declarations. When the focus of those conflicts and cooperative efforts loses, for the leadership, by the leadership, or of the leadership of being “the people,” all the efforts dissipate once again into “ego first,” and all the excuses therein that make focus upon the ego and not the large self, possible. We can see this development or regression in war and peace efforts. After the obvious failures of empire and its dictator, Pres. Bush, the rhetoric of Pres., then Sen. Obama was refreshing. However, to be fair to both gentlemen and their obvious failures, I need to reflect upon at least two other trends that come to my mind. One is the historic tension between science and philosophy/theology. They are intended to be tensions on either side, as of a see-saw, one helping the other. The other is the historic tension between community and survival or numbers or wherewithal. In my 8 decades i have witnessed science become more important than philosophy/theology. Numbers exceed people or care or love or the earth in value. Recently on NPR Radio a member of The American Enterprise Institute was interviewed and I was shocked to hear someone, without any compunctions, declare that “profit” was the “valued” goal above “people.” Such thinking endorses Pres. Bush or Pres. Obama killing the innocent, persons who are accorded due process of law (because the dictator sees fit to take the law into his own hands—it can apply to women, yes, but the fact is that we’ve only had men so far in that role–translate any of what i say to a board room, class room, et al), and anyone or any thing on the planet that is in the way to profit as the “superior” motive. In my lifetime profit, money which we call “the almighty dollar”, has become primary and above and exclusive of community, i.e. the focus of “the people” has been  seriously eroded. In my lifetime i have witnessed what my forbears witnessed, the arrogance of religions and philosophers that despoiled their true genius and value of seeing the value of the focus of “the people.” Galileo and Copernicus, St. Francis, Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, Moses and Abraham and the prophets have been pushed aside “by the people”, often due to the arrogance of the leadership that was being unruly. When numbers, science, profit or community, philosophy/religion push one another off the other side of the see-saw, after great destructive epochs and decades, genius again comes forth who makes the connection. One who pursues the study of philosophy/religion eventually comes to value numbers/science, and the reverse is true and should be re-stated and emphasized, especially for our own period of time. One who is a real student of numbers–as our false prophet friend of The American Institute, e.g. comes to value community, the people, the earth, life. our Pres., Congress,Courts, local town and city governments are today not only respectful of but also corrupted by, i.e. overly influenced by, numbers, profit as “the ” motive. Arrogance within religions and faith groups removes from use one of the vehicles ‘of the people” which can be used to re-balance the always precarious daily life. Arrogance of goals has allowed the “dollar” to become superior to “the people.” As other real geniuses, Steve Jobs has connected the two sides of the constantly moving ssee-saw, just as science and religion/philosophy connect in reality: “of” “by” “for” “the people”=hope,  no rhetoic, action, motive, will. Thanks for reading.

  • jim

    I still can’t believe he pass away. wow. I came to this country in the late 70s and i think he is by far the most influential figure i have ever seen. through the hard years being kicked out of apple to his rebirth as success triumph, i can safely say he is the father of modern innovation. i still like his remark, “i do not care whether you are right; i only care about success”.

  • Anonymous

    I began using a computer back in ’82 and by ’84 had a choice between an Epson (dos) and the first Mac.  The Mac cost a lot more, so that made me an msdos>Windows person.  Wish I’d made a better choice. 

    Jobs was a lot of things, some good, some not so.  One of the things I liked about him was his understanding that creativity was not just a nice part but a key part of good business.  Perhaps we’d pull out of this grey recession (and joblessness, pun intended) and back into the world of color if we gave the kind of attention Jobs did to artists and musicians and creative people of all kinds within the world of Apple.

    This excerpt from the NYT obit is nice:
    __
    He put much stock in the notion of “taste,” a word he used frequently. It was a sensibility that shone in products that looked like works of art and delighted users. Great products, he said, were a triumph of taste, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then trying to bring those things into what you are doing.”
    ___
    Some in business will be irritated by that notion of taste.  That’s okay.  They’re probably making the products I’ve stopped buying from the companies I wouldn’t invest in.

    Sidebar:  Do we have to “choose” between Jobs and Gates?  Bill Gates has taken his money and gotten behind health and education in a way few have been able to do.  He deserves our genuine appreciation even though his operating systems drive us nuts.

  • Anonymous

    to people died in the last couple of days, one, fred shuttleswoth was a person of untold character and moral and physical courage, a moral hero of the last century and of american history.  The other, steeve jobs, made billions marketing electronic gizmos and toys.  Governemnt radio memorializes jobs and but ignores shuttlesworth.

    • TFRX

      Anyone else here learn of Shuttlesworth’s passing on NPR as I did? Or, if I was tuned to my AM yak station at the time, would they have mentioned it?

      • Anonymous

        I heard it on ATC as well as ME this morning. It has been well-covered by NPR and other media. Shuttlesworth represented a generation (the moms and pops of the Jobs generation) that mourns deeply, if not always loudly, as its leaders pass on.  Fire hoses and dogs trained to maim and kill are less easy to talk and memorialize about than iPods.  As you probably know, most memories of those days are really hard to deal with.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Microsoft is an evil corporation, while Apple is a religious cult.  We’re being led into the future by either a jackbooted thug or the smiling face.

  • Cory

    I will refrain from further comment, as I’ve made my point.  Let the deification and general love-in continue…

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      I’ll take up the torch.

  • GretchenMo

    Steve was an American success story, one that happens to one degree or another every day here.  He didn’t subscribe to the cult of low expectations that often saddles the do-gooders intentions for those of his life situation.  He believed in himself and that was enough.  Peace.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Well said.

      His success enabled a lot of others.

      • JustSayin

        Or more rationally and observably true – Many others enabled his success.

    • Steve T

      We never agree on much. But this is just a true statement. My heart goes out to his family and friends,so sorry for your loss.

  • Ravi G

    Until about 2 years ago I did not own a single apple product. Moreover, I used to think it was more or less an exclusive domain of some semi secret apple cult. Now I cannot imagine a day without using my ipod, iphone and ipad. It frustrates me when their battery is drained and for a minute I seriously contemplate getting a second one of each.

    • Fanboy

      get a grip

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      I still don’t own an Apple product.  Why would I?  Just because the guru releases a new version of his tired miracle doesn’t mean that I have to follow, drooling.

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        So the rest of us who do own apple products are following Jobs mindlessly and drool?

        I chose and continue to choose Apple products because I like them and they have worked for me for many years. It’s no more compacted than that.

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          Complicated. Ugh.

  • ca_brit

    Only in America is it possible that an adopted baby, whose biological father was an immigrant from Syria and Egypt, can become such a transformational business leader the likes the world had never seen before. RIP Steve Jobs.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Jobs to me is an icon of one willing to buck deep currents, as he stated in the excerpt you played.  And that nonconformity, that insisting on setting the trends rather than following them, is an important example to a supposedly “democratic” country.  I chuckle at his orneriness, as I hear about it, and consider it the price one pays for being a personality like that.  
        I remember when the “Lisa” came out, I believe the first Mac computer, and someone important was asking me at the time to type her novel, not once but two times over (in my spare time, or second job).  And I wanted to type that on the Lisa, but it wasn’t available in time, and the person said she wanted it typed twice from scratch regardless.  So I didn’t type it at all.  
       I’ve never owned an Apple product, but I admire them.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    When the prophet dies, the message is institutionalized by his power-hungry followers.

    I believe in one Founder, brilliant huckster.  I believe in one universal company. . .

  • RBerry

    Steve Jobs is unique in our life time. I don’t think there are now, nor will there be another spirit in the world of innovation like Steve Jobs.

    However, it is noteable that not everything Jobs came up with was a winner:

    –Newton
    –Apple III (Lisa)
    –NeXT Workstation
    –Choosing AT&T as the ONLY provider for the iPhone

    The trick Jobs nailed was that people will pay top dollar for the best products there are to use. The iPhone, iPod, etc, were not always the best of bread w.r.t technology. But they were absolutely flawless in their usage.

    IBM and Microsoft may invent, but Apple makes things FUN!!

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Because fun is the sine qua non of any technology or field of endeavor. . .

    • RD

      Microsoft invents… you are joking right?

  • Anonymous

    Steve Jobs made apple the Tiffany’s of electronics.  A few years ago, I put a  replacement mac book battery under the Christmas tree.  I expected it to be one of those boring utilitarian gifts.  To my surprise, when my wife opened the package, the battery was in a beautiful little box and opening it revealed an attractive tissue paper wrapped battery.  The same feeling is evoked in any retail device I’ve seen them make.  To most girls, the next best thing to the little blue Tiffany’s box, is an apple product.

  • Xumdude

    We will all miss iPop!

  • Nutricj

    Tom, your commentator just said that Jobs “was not really an inventor.” Depending on the source, he is attributed with somwhere between 300-350 inventions or co-inventions in his lifetime. That’s about 300-350 more than most of us. His beginnings in that garage were all about invention and vision to see inventive potential. Just ask the other Steve.

  • Scott B, Jamestown, NY

    When all the TV news services in the US, and a great many abroad, interrupt programing, that speaks volumes for his life and legacy. That kind of thing is usually reserved for world leaders, the uber-famous, and infamous. 

    The world is less one great mind and a true visionary.

    RIP, Steve. 

  • John B

    Invention does not equal innovation. Innovation is taking an idea, bring it to reality and changing the way we do things. Jobs did this. Also look at the history of 3M for an example of “institutionalizing” innovation.

  • Me

    oddly enough, I find myself in agreement with the “republican”. Apple has changed nothing. They just peddle shiny and overpriced electronic gizmos. I guess they should have stepped up development of the the iPancreas.

    • Aranphor

      “I find myself in agreement with the “republican”. Apple has changed nothing”

      Then you’re out of touch. His impact was, like being discussed, huge.

      • IDush

        real huge. I guess that if all apple products were to suddenly disappear, the earth would stop rotating about it’s axis and humanity would cease to exist because there was no app for that

        • Modavations

          Jobs biggest cheerleader is Rush L.

    • C L

      Yeah, you’re pretty rude. 

    • Nutricj

      i hope this type of awful post is removed

      • Anonymous

        It was rude, but it shouldn’t be censored. 

        • Nutricj

          you are right, i know you are right…just viscerally icked out when the healthy mock the ill

          • Me

            I was mocking the dead…oh wait..there is an app for that too :)

          • Nutricj

            is kicking stray dogs your encore act?

            cruelty isn’t funny, it’s just cruel :-(

          • Me

            no. I like dogs.

          • ripped-off tax payer

            Then you and your mother must really get along well together.

          • Fookeeyoo

            Not as well as Jobs did with yours and her bastard children. ooops, did I just call you a bastard?

            Anyways, now that he is gone, you can all stop looking down and playing with your iPhones and return to looking down and playing with yourselves. Probably a much healthier habit.

      • Modavations

        Insulting,but free speech nevertheless

    • Me

      Oh…OK. Out of respect for the dead I will take back the iPancreas bit. I’m sure that the dead guy whose liver was transplanted and the other people who were pushed down the organ transplant list and died would not appreciate it.

  • Saeed

    Steve Jobs gave us the first personal computer that you didn’t have to solder together yourself.  Gave us first computer that had a graphics user interface.. iPhone, iPad.  This guy affected and revolutionized every aspect of our lives.. from publishing to medicine to entertainment.

    • Anonymous

      My Dad got a kit and made our families first television him self. He made our stereo system himself. I got a kit to make my first radio myself.  As personal computers started to appear, I made my first desk top tower myself. It ran with some modifications (that I did myself) for over 20 years.  Building my own stuff was the best bit of instruction I ever had. It is why I still stick with a PC, I can modify it myself.  Every one should be made to solder together their first PC.

    • twenty-niner

      Apple’s first product, the Apple I was just a board. You had to find or build your own power supply, keyboard, tape drive, etc. Ironically, this was the last Apple product you could “mod”.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    What is wrong with you people?  “I’m a believer”?  “Form over function”?  We lost our way sometime shortly after the death of Pericles.

    • Roy Mac

      Agree.  Characterization as the “Apple cult” is exactly right.  Steve wasn’t a techno-geek, but he was personally a nazi about elegant design–just ask any Apple engineer.

      The ultimate irony is that he started his biz in a San Francisco garage and had a factory in the Bay Area.  Since, he has out-sourced EVERYTHING to Asian sweat-shops.  Today, his parents could not have afforded the Bay Area culture nor the products he sells.

      Do his hipster customers really think they’re following a righteous path?

  • Aranphor

    Before you close talk about his impact on the Home Recording industry. How it has empowered Musicians to publish their own music online.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Garageband and many other applications have enabled a lot of people to engineer their own music. Garageband on an iPad is one incredible application.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.iannuccilli Eric Iannuccilli

    i just want to say that some of those sppeaking on air keep saying design is more important than function. but the truth he show us is that it is equally as important but not more.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Great, as a country, we can paint pretty pictures on the junk that China ships us.

  • BHA in Vermont

    A bit ambivalent here.
    First, at work I have to suffer Windows machines. At home we have 2 iMacs and the kids both have iPods. (as for quality – the 6 month old 4G was just replaced under warranty for the apparently not uncommon sticky button flaw. Apple doesn’t fix them, they ship you a new one from China, back up all your photos, music, apps, etc) and the really short wire on my wife’s Apple mouse frayed at the mouse. It was replaced with a wireless Logitech.

    For all the ‘innovation’ of Steve Jobs, Apple held on to the 1 button mouse far too long. I worked with OS/2 before it was a product on the shelf and it had ‘right mouse button’ menus. That was in the 80′s. Having to use a 1 button mouse and keys to get that same menu is the opposite of the simplicity Apple claims as their goal.

    And, we don’t use the Apple mice that came with our machines, they just fail. The Apple (Pro) Mouse buttons on the side aren’t in the right place for many, no scroll wheel, etc. I’ve not used a Mighty Mouse, perhaps they are better, but with no obvious buttons, I suspect they will be a bit of a learning curve.

    And I am not at all impressed with the link between the iPods a specific desktop and iTunes in the cloud.

  • Alnwright

    Nancy Kane left out the most important lesson for the country in this time of political and economic distress. Steve Jobs succeeded because of the social, cultural and economic social contract structures of the United States – a contract under attack by the political and religious right.  Steve’s biological father came as an immigrant, his adoptive parents pulled him from a poor quality public school and enrolled him in a better one in another city, his business creations succeeded because of the internet and other structures built and/or funded by public expenditures, his creativity took root because of the social and cultural openness encouraged by our multifaceted innovative culture. Future successes like Steve Jobs depend on continuing these investments and social experiments.

  • we need truth

    Why lie about who Steve Jobs was?  He himself understood what his distinct gift was, “high esthetic taste”.  He didn’t create anything; but his taste was so “on point” that the products he presented appeared new.  HP had a tablet long before Apple.  Jobs’ taste made it better to the point of being seen as an entirely different device.
     
    But Apple was never “for the people”.  Apple makes products that a young Steve Jobs (or his family) would never been able to afford.  He pandered to the rich and snubbed his nose at the poor.
     
    Also, the first iPhone:  couldn’t remove the battery, couldn’t self-upgrade the memory, no front camera, you HAD TO sign with AT&T.  Steve Jobs was no libertarian and certainly not a man of the people.
     
    Plus, the man sounded like a real A—hole to have to work for.  But he had great taste.  I wish he would have gotten into the auto industry.  Imagine a non-ugly Prius.

    For those with taste (and bucks), STEVE JOBS LIVES!

  • Modavations

    Jobs,Wozniack,Gates,et al, tinker in the garage,while burning “Fatties” and surfing “Steamers”.Without govt.assistance,they succeed,reinvest and create thriving enterprises.They employ 50-100,000 peeps all making $70,000-200,000 per annum.10 or 12 of these guys save their money,come up with a bright idea and start their own successful businesses.These 12 co.s employ another 300,000 peeps and 25 more succeed and open thriving enterprises.This is Laissez-Faire!!!!!
            Mr.Jobs you are a hero of mine.Righteous job dude,most righteous!!!

  • Dave in CT

    I always liked Obama’s statements that he would “call out” the malefactors and dishonest in our society.  He just never does.

    The point he lost so much support was when he failed to “call out”, let alone jettison people like Summers, Rubin, Geithner, Paulson etc. He argues there are no laws making what they did, illegal, as they cooked up plans with Fannie Mae and Wall St. to pull of the greatest heist in generations.

    His surrounding himself with the architects of our demise, is the thing that so many cannot swallow.I actually have sympathy for his argument that what was done, was not illegal.

    If he came out talking like a rule of law libertarian saying we need law “x” to keep a level competitive playing field, and to prosecute malefactors/corruptors, I would be supporting him.

    But when he defends a Frank/Dodd bill, that in its name even, touts the kind of banking coddlers who microlegislated, in a very NON-level playing field rule of law way, the situations with Fannie, and AIG and Wall St that brought on the collapse, how can we have faith?

    He is just part of the Washington problem that will never relinquish their discretionary powers, to a truly transparent, level, rule of law.

    Why? I don’t know.  But a Progressive Values, Libertarian principles Democrat, or Republican, would win in a landslide.

    But he goes on and on (in today’s press conference) about “smarter policies”, showing he still has faith in the Summers approach to academically-led, centrally-planned economics.

    Was Apple a central plan? Was it someones smarter policy? It was Steve Jobs’ smarter policy and the world followed.

    Just let the economy do its thing, and protect us from market corruptors and outside invasion.

    • Dave in CT

      By Progressive Values I am being generous, and presuming most progressives have good, decent, honest hopes and dreams for all Americans who want and honest shot at it.

      By Libertarian Principles, I am acknowledging that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, especially centrally-planned government ones.  Only the collective actions of free-thinking, free-choosing, good intentioned individuals, will bring about a more just and prosperous world, not a well-intentioned central group of elites who become systemically compromised and corrupted.

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  • Listener

    This morning’s coverage of Steve Jobs passing seemed to lack any grip on reality. After about 30 minutes of this I had to turn it off. Repeatedly and uncritically attributing the inspiration of “global digital democratization” to Jobs or any other single individual in this age is just plain goofy. Jobs was a great individual, and it turned out that he could be a creative and inspired leader of a great company. Isn’t that enough? Some sense of proportion would have been nice.

    • ListenTooWell

      The only time our media gives a ‘sense of proportion’ is when they try to inculcate us into believing ‘there is nothing to see here’.

  • Zing

    He was a man.  He lived, worked, and died.  In two weeks, other than his family perhaps, no one will care.  He was too busy to take part in a Wall Street protest.

  • Alex Smith

    Hero worship is not a part of the future that Steve Jobs saw. Think breifly of Steve Jobs. Think more of the refelections of innovation in your own lives. Humans are products of their space and times. Steve hasn’t escaped this law. This is not a significant day. We are significant people for living it.

  • Tengberg75

    i don’t think it was so much form over function but a seamless merging of the two.  and i think its amusing that the criticisms are about his hard driving attitude and striving to be the best and that good enough isn’t good enough.  isn’t that what the capitalist entrepreneurial spirit is founded on?  why should that be looked upon as a fault when the work ethic is supposedly such a strong part of the american culture?  could that be why we have fallen behind and are mesmerized by the freak show of pop culture and have little to no interest in changing things for the better?
    the loss of one man is indeed sad, but the loss of his ideas is even sadder.

  • Andrew

    It’s about humanism in design. Too often do engineers create new technology because they can rather than because they should; the innovation is not driven by human need. Steve Jobs changed that… Look at the Apple tv commercials; deaf people signing to one another over FaceTime, mentally handicapped kids using iPads. This is a lifestyle company which seeks to improve the human condition rather than simply innovate to satisfy the abstract.

    • Alex Smith

      Corporations dont do what you say they do. Humanism in design is called post-humanism. What follows that? We aww at the creation of the pods. We even ask whether these invents are of a quality that should be pursued. Dont confuse human with ism and use your pod/mac as you will. AC lives forever. Liber AL vel Legis and do what thou wilt.

  • Don

    A thistle to Google for not acknowledging Steve Jobs’ passing in their daily homepage masthead. Jobs improved our lives in more positive ways than many statesmen.

  • David Aro

    i remember going into a computer store years ago and in the Mac section sat a brand new blue-and-white IMAC with a sign that said “push this button” or something like that. so i did- the cute little “guy” (was it inspired by R2D2 i wondered?) proceeded to take me on a fascinating and inspiring tour of all the practical as well as entertaining features and functions that this new leap in technology represented. so now you not only had the world’s best graphical user interface, but a terrific slide show (with motion) layered on top taking you step by step into the world of a new and irresistable “home appliance”. one that would fit on a desk OR a kitchen counter. EVERY software program designed for the Mac worked essentially the same way, so learning one meant having a head start on understanding the others. what you gave up on playing “WINTEL” games you gained by better understanding and greater use of those programs. the next generation IMAC was even more beautiful, with a round base and a monitor “floating” on a steel pedestal. ALL THIS without even starting to discuss the impact of mobile computing… Steve J. had to be a pretty “cool” guy in my book. i am really saddened that he had to suffer and die like he did. 
        SO my hope NOW is that our EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM does not CONTINUE TO PASS OVER the young talent that is out there- either giving their teachers a bit of a hard time, or out on the streets having given up on the crumbling school they were assigned to attend. WE NEED YOU…

  • RePost

    It might be too late, but I think I’ve got the answer:

    Make a bunch a cool looking stuff for nothing and sell it for huge profits.

    Not everyone can be a billionaire.  Don’t worry, be happy.

    Don’t be a megalomaniac like me, it shortens your life span.

    Even if it is absolutely necessary, don’t sell yourself or soul to the devil (gates).

    If I had to do it all over again, I’d rather be financially average and live longer.

    Power is extremely over rated, especially when your six feet under.

    Money means not so much.

    Thanks for buying the myth.

     - Steve Jobs

  • Slipstream

    Here is another remarkable aspect of Jobs’s unquestionably great achievements: His company manufactures the most expensive and high-end products, yet they continue to get away with portraying themselves as more left of center/alternative/creative/hip than the competition.  I guess they have been able to do that by innovating, but also by some shrewd marketing decisions, I bet. 

    It is funny, I have been hearing about Jobs all my life, and I have long admired the things Apple makes – but I have never owned one.  Too pricey for the likes of me – so far I have stuck with the prole’s PC – inexpensive big name products that run Windows.

  • Bronco

    I´m reading her biography, written by Isaac

  • Anonymous

    A thistle to Google for not acknowledging Steve Jobs . passing in their
    daily homepage masthead. Jobs improved our lives in more positive ways
    than many statesmen .

  • Pingback: The Most Important Media Innovation Since The Internet Turns 10 | Cognoscenti

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