Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

I never met Steve, or actually saw him in person. But his philosophy of what computers should do, how they should work, has irreparably affected my own opinions of how computers should work. Some things Steve taught me: 1) A beautiful design is one that is simple, straightforward, and solves the customer's problem without bothering the customers with details he doesn't care about. 2) The point is to solve the problem of the majority of customers, not to appeal to the 1% of customers who need just this one more feature that would make the problem less usable by the other 99% of customers. 3) Focus on quality, not quantity. If you put out garbage at the low end to appeal to the bottom 25% of your customers, you will get a reputation for garbage and be forever condemned to producing low-margin garbage. In the end, quality builds its own quantity. 4) The customer is NOT always right -- indeed, the customer usually doesn't even know what he wants, he just knows the problem he wants to solve and *thinks* he knows what he wants. Solve his problem in the best way possible while ignoring his suggestions of how to solve the problem, and you will win the world.

Steve by all accounts was not an easy person to work for or to know in his personal life -- various people say he was arrogant, opinionated, and difficult to sway. Supposedly Apple engineers worked for SIX YEARS, producing one prototype after another that Steve rejected, before he finally signed off on the first iPhone. But that seems to be what's needed sometimes to change the world, for better or for worse. And that's what Steve did, in the end, even though he never wrote a line of code or designed a single computer card in his entire life, by simply knowing what he wanted computers and devices to be -- and brow-beating his engineers until they produced it.

-- Badtux the Computer Penguin


  1. Here in Silicon Valley, he was rightfully an icon. He'll be missed.

  2. I was inspired by his vision and ability to transform the complicated into the simple.

    So many things have been changed for the better as a result of his ability to challenge the status quo in the industry. And make them work far better.

    It is good to know that he got to do what he loved until he couldn't do it anymore.

  3. I just learned of Mr. Jobs' death here. Sad, as I remember his stating that his cancer was of a type that would hopefully allow him a few more years.

    His commencement speech was inspiring, in the way that only a person who lives his mortality can be.

    R.I.P., Mr. Jobs.

  4. We are a houseful of Mac users, and i-phone carrying as well. I hope his work endures his loss.


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