October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs the Genius

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Wired

From at least the time he was a teenager, Jobs had a freakish chutzpah. At age 13, he called up the head of HP and cajoled him into giving Jobs free computer chips. It was part of a lifelong pattern of setting and fulfilling astronomical standards.

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.)

The turmoil in those sixties was also part of his make-up. “We wanted to more richly experience why were we were alive,” he said of his generation,

--every so often he’d drop a clue to what made him tick. Once he recalled for me some of the long summers of his youth. I’m a big believer in boredom,” he told me. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, he explained, and “out of curiosity comes everything.”

his dad, Paul — a machinist who had never completed high school — had set aside a section of his workbench for Steve, and taught him how to build things, disassemble them, and put them together.
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I asked Jobs for an explanation on why he sometimes gave harsh, even rude assessments of his employee’s work...My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great.”
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the iPOd ...Because it combines Apple’s incredible technology base with Apple’s legendary ease of use with Apple’s awesome design… it’s like, this is what we do. So if anybody was ever wondering why is Apple on the earth, I would hold this up as a good example.”
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Jobs was a proud, proud father of four children, three from his marriage to Laurene Powell. He was protective of them — whenever he shared a story about one of his children in an interview, he cautioned that the remark was to be off the record.

Kevin Williamson

The late Mr. Jobs stood for something considerably better than politics. He stood for the model of the world that works.

Mr. Jobs’s contribution to the world is Apple and its products, along with Pixar and his other enterprises, his 338 patented inventions — his work — not some Steve Jobs Memorial Foundation for Giving Stuff to Poor People in Exotic Lands and Making Me Feel Good About Myself. Because he already did that: He gave them better computers, better telephones, better music players, etc. In a lot of cases, he gave them better jobs, too. Did he do it because he was a nice guy, or because he was greedy, or because he was a maniacally single-minded competitor who got up every morning possessed by an unspeakable rage to strangle his rivals? The beauty of capitalism — the beauty of the iPhone world as opposed to the world of politics — is that that question does not matter one little bit. Whatever drove Jobs, it drove him to create superior products, better stuff at better prices. ...t markets are very democratic — everybody gets to decide for himself what he values.

How did he do it?

What was it about Steve Jobs that meant he managed to transform four industries? The personal computer (Mac), music (iPod), mobile phones (iPhone) and computing as lifestyle (iPad) will never be the same again – and that's before we mention his creation of another $7bn company in Pixar, which has won more than 20 Academy Awards. If he’d achieved just one of those feats, he would be one of the greatest business people of this era. To have achieved all of them is more than just talent and luck – it’s doing things differently.
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Steve Jobs didn’t delegate. He had the vision in his head and got other people to execute it for him. He cared about the details. He cared about the typeface, the iconography. He had a belligerent commitment to things being simple to use.

Because he had a holistic vision, and he made sure everything was done the way he wanted it, everything worked with everything else. iTunes works with your iPod.  Addresses synched between the Mail on your Mac and your iPhone. You plug a camera into your MacBook at iPhoto automatically launches and sucks in the photos. These weren’t five products in Steve’s mind, they were one product. That only happened because there was one man with a vision of the whole, who got people to do it his way.

Steve Jobs has left this world a better place. He has created businesses that employ tens of thousands of people. He has made frustrating, unintelligible tasks simple. He has given us new services that we enjoy and which bring us closer together. And he has entertained us.

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Joe Nocera

Steve Jobs  knew what consumers would want before the consumers themselves did.

Why he didn't allow flash on his iPhone

Jobs said it was to make the downloading of pornography next to impossible, indicating that nothing can destroy a family and marriage faster than a husband addicted to porn.

Peter Robinson who knew Jobs personally

You can almost grasp how became as important as Edison or Carnegie or Stanford or Rockefeller or Ford.....Yet one characteristic distinguished Steve Jobs from the others.  ...Only Steve insisted on beauty.

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Bill Walsh

Jobs has always struck me as a Renaissance man, not in the conversational sense of the word, but in a more literal understanding of what the geniuses of the Italian Renaissance were about. They were about exploring the world as a view into the mind of God and illuminating it with beauty. Jobs was no sort of Christian, I don't think, but something in his Zen æsthetic saw something of the ideal, the Platonic, behind the world's veil, and I think in this he realized something of the humanitas that the Renaissance geniuses were about: helping people lead better lives. Jobs's view wasn't directly moral, as theirs was, but in his relentless, monomaniacal quest to make technology beautiful—to make it human, the opposite of say, Italian interwar Futurism—and to force it to absent itself from the space between thought and action, I think he was on the same page as the geniuses who perfected perspective to make the wall and paint irrelevant to the viewer’s reception of the image.

Rob Long

I am one of those irritating Apple fanatics..the machines are better designed, better made, with better software and easier to use.  The MacBook Pro has revolutionized all media.  The iPad is saving the newspaper business.  The iPhone has liberated the world.
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The story of Steve Jobs, from his hardscrabble upbringing to his second and third acts in American business, is a classic American story, one we should celebrate and teach in schools: a person with vision and drive and creative passion and an unwillingness to accept anything less than amazing, astonishing, and near-perfect

Walt Mossberg on The Steve Jobs I Knew

Sometimes, not always, he’d invite me in to see certain big products before he unveiled them to the world. He may have done the same with other journalists. We’d meet in a giant boardroom, with just a few of his aides present, and he’d insist — even in private — on covering the new gadgets with cloths and then uncovering them like the showman he was, a gleam in his eye and passion in his voice. We’d then often sit down for a long, long discussion of the present, the future, and general industry gossip.

I still remember the day he showed me the first iPod. I was amazed that a computer company would branch off into music players, but he explained, without giving any specifics away, that he saw Apple as a digital products company, not a computer company. It was the same with the iPhone, the iTunes music store, and later the iPad, which he asked me to his home to see, because he was too ill at the time to go to the office.
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In my many conversations with him, the dominant tone he struck was optimism and certainty, both for Apple and for the digital revolution as a whole. Even when he was telling me about his struggles to get the music industry to let him sell digital songs, or griping about competitors, at least in my presence, his tone was always marked by patience and a long-term view...it was striking.

Holman Jenkins on The Amazing Steve Jobs Story

His story isn't just the story of a person, but the combination of time, place and person, spawning a career in industrial design of awesome proportions. Mr. Jobs founded two pivotal companies in American history. Both happened to be named Apple. One was the Apple of the Macintosh, the other was the Apple of the iPhone.

From the beginning, he saw the human possibility in the extraordinarily complex hardware and software engineering of digital devices. The Macintosh should work in a way that's intuitive, that doesn't require an owner's manual. And today you only need to survey the blogosphere or friends with toddlers to hear stories of 3-year-olds picking up an iPad and quickly sussing out what it's for.

But let's also acknowledge that coupled with vision and the pursuit of excellence was hard-headed business strategizing. The triumph of iTunes, the App Store and the incipient Apple Cloud ushered in the era at Apple of network-esque complexity as well as the possibility of network-esque revenues. It made Mr. Jobs, despite himself, an empire builder.
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Mr. Jobs's determination to make superb products was, one likes to think, an expression of love for the world, life and possibility.
Posted by Jill Fallon at October 6, 2011 3:40 PM | Permalink