Steve Jobs miscellany
Andrew Sullivan on why Steve Jobs matters:
The reason he strikes such a huge chord with an entire generation lies, it seems to me, beyond his immense technical and business and design skills. It was because he became the bridge between the 1960s and the 1980s, the counter-culture and the counter-counter-culture. He was the hippie capitalist. He was the fusion of two great American forces – personal actualization and a free market. … He was a baby turned over for adoption by his biological parents. He dropped out of school. He was fired at the age of 30 by the very company he had founded. And in the face of early humbling, he focused on his own vision and his own passion – an individualist creed forged in the crucible of a sure knowledge of his own mortality, of his own death.
Think of Pixar. I remember during the darkest days after 9/11 feeling bleaker about the future than ever before in my life. And I went to see a Pixar movie. For some reason, I came out feeling better about the world and its prospects. If a civilization could produce that kind of genius conflation of the left and right sides of the brain, if it could also turn that into exquisite beauty and laughter and even sadness, then this civilization was a formidable force against its nihilist fundamentalist enemies at home and abroad. No politician – save Obama at his best – ever reassured in quite that comprehensive a way. And what was reassuring was that this had been rooted in a vision from an individual who took no-one else’s lead and had the courage to realize it, to his own exacting standards of perfection. That’s America at its best.
When I heard the news that Steve Jobs had died, my mind flashed back to 1985, when I began my love affair with computers. I was stationed in Moscow for The Associated Press and I ordered an Apple IIc — by Telex — from a department store in Helsinki, Finland. They express shipped it to me, a month later, by train.
The IIc was Apple’s first crack at a “portable” computer, which it sort of was if you didn’t mind a 7.5 pound weight, plus monitor, external floppy drive and all the cables. But it was sleek for its time, about the size of a loose leaf binder.
The K.G.B. officers at the Soviet customs desk at Leningrad Station were annoyed. “Where is the computer,” one asked. “Right here,” I said. He gave me that contemptuous look that border guards all seemed to have: “That is the keyboard. Show me the computer!”
I had no idea that Jobs was half-Arab — his biological father was Syrian:
“This might sound strange, though, but I am not prepared, even if either of us was on our deathbed, to pick up the phone to call him,” Jandali told the newspaper. “Steve will have to do that as the Syrian pride in me does not want him ever to think I am after his fortune. I am not. I have my own money. What I don’t have is my son … and that saddens me.”
Jobs’ biological mother, Joanne Schieble, and Jandali weren’t married when she became pregnant. They gave him up for adoption in San Francisco.
Steven Levy on Jobs’ legacy:
People who can claim credit for game-changing products — iconic inventions that become embedded in the culture and answers to Jeopardy questions decades later — are few and far between. But Jobs has had not one, not two, but six of these breakthroughs, any one of which would have made for a magnificent career. In order: the Apple II, the Macintosh, the movie studio Pixar, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. (This doesn’t even include the consistent, brilliant improvements to the Macintosh operating system, or the Apple retail store juggernaut.) Had he lived a natural lifespan, there would have almost certainly been more.
More on Jobs’ achievements here.
Brian Lam, whose Gizmoto scooped the iPhone 4 prototype, recalls a phone conversation with Jobs.
I was on sabbatical when Jason got his hands on the iPhone prototype.
An hour after the story went live, the phone rang and the number was from Apple HQ. I figured it was someone from the PR team. It was not.
“Hi, this is Steve. I really want my phone back.”
He wasn’t demanding. He was asking. And he was charming and he was funny. I was half-naked, just getting back from surfing, but I managed to keep my shit together.
“I appreciate you had your fun with our phone and I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the sales guy who lost it. But we need the phone back because we can’t let it fall into the wrong hands.”
I thought, maybe its already in the wrong hands?
He continued, “There are two ways we can do this. I can send someone to pick up the phone–”
Me: “I don’t have it”
“–But you know someone who does…or we can send someone with legal papers, and I don’t want to do that.”
He was giving us an easy way out.
I told him I had to talk to my dudes. Before he hung up, he asked me, “What do you think of it?”
I said, “It’s beautiful.”
Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Jobs will be released ahead of schedule: October 24th instead of November 21st. The Wall Street Journal reports that Isaacson last interviewed Jobs four weeks ago, at which time Jobs knew that he would die soon. The final interview will be included as a scene at the end of the book.
And finally, Jobs on how the computer is the most remarkable tool we’ve ever created: