Steve Jobs 1955-2011: The Most Famous Maestro of the Micro

October 6, 2011
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When TIME named the computer as the 1982 ”Machine of the Year”, it published a long profile of Steve Jobs as “the most famous maestro of the micro.”  Ha! Great turn of the phrase, and that was long before he really moved out in pushing the envelope in micro electronics, consumer technology and human-focused design.

When TIME named the computer as the 1982 ”Machine of the Year”, it published a long profile of Steve Jobs as “the most famous maestro of the micro.”  Ha! Great turn of the phrase, and that was long before he really moved out in pushing the envelope in micro electronics, consumer technology and human-focused design. Steve Jobs changed the world and the lives of everyone in it.

His death also teaches us other lessons.  He was only 56. All his billions could not give him one more day on earth. As we honor his technological legacy I hope we all pause to honor his humanity and his own understanding that what matters is not how much money you make.

More from Steve Jobs on what matters:

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

“We’ve gone through the operating system and looked at everything and asked how can we simplify this and make it more powerful at the same time.”

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.”

“My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

“We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.”

“Click. Boom. Amazing!”

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”

“A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

“Recruiting is hard. It’s just finding the needles in the haystack. You can’t know enough in a one-hour interview. So, in the end, it’s ultimately based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they’re challenged? I ask everybody that: ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for. It’s the meta-data.”

“We’ve had one of these before, when the dot-com bubble burst. What I told our company was that we were just going to invest our way through the downturn, that we weren’t going to lay off people, that we’d taken a tremendous amount of effort to get them into Apple in the first place – the last thing we were going to do is lay them off.”

“I mean, some people say, ‘Oh, God, if [Jobs] got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble.’ And, you know, I think it wouldn’t be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple. My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do.”

“It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That’s what we get paid to do. We just want to make great products. (I think he means “insanely great products!“)”

“So when a good idea comes, you know, part of my job is to move it around, just see what different people think, get people talking about it, argue with people about it, get ideas moving among that group of 100 people, get different people together to explore different aspects of it quietly, and, you know – just explore things.”

“When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, Are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself. They’ll want to do what’s best for Apple, not what’s best for them, what’s best for Steve, or anybody else. (this actually reiterates my oft-repeated mantra of “ubiquitous evangelism” in companies)”