...A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.
-- Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek , May 25 1998
And show us he has.
Apple’s now former CEO, Steve Jobs, is frequently cited as the brains behind the company’s greatest triumphs, bringing Apple back from the doldrums of the ‘80s and early ‘90s by introducing sleeker hardware and software designs and crafting a brand that, despite Apple products’ higher price tags, keeps consumers coming back for more.
But what inspired Steve Jobs, and how has he inspired us?
Beyond Apple, Jobs has inspired countless others to innovate in both technology and design. The iOS platform, Apple store, iTunes, and numerous other products created under Jobs’ leadership have given programmers, designers and every-day consumers the opportunity to re-imagine their world. Meanwhile, Jobs’ personal story — tinkering in his parents’ garage, dropping out of college, leaving Apple on a sour note only to come back and oversee its resurrection — is the stuff of legend.
"I've always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do," said Jobs in a 2004 interview with BusinessWeek. A lofty goal to be sure, but that’s not where Jobs’ vision ended. Remember this famous quote: “I want to put a dent in the universe”? Give it a few more years and perhaps there will be an app for measuring exactly how much of a dent he’s made.
We took a look through the archives of the Internet and discovered two PBS productions featuring Jobs that, when seen today, provide some insight as to what inspired Jobs early on in his career, and how that inspiration, in turn, fueled our own creativity as students, programmers, designers and consumers.
First, the 1993 PBS special “Triumph of the Nerds,” presented here in two parts, explored how, early on, Jobs inspired others. During the special, the Apple co-founder describes what inspired him:
In the interview, Jobs quotes Picasso (“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”), and proclaims that the graphics user interface he had seen during a visit to Xerox was “the greatest thing I had seen in my life.” The interview, in the context of what Jobs and Apple would go on to accomplish in the late ‘90s and into the next millennium, is telling. Jobs describes his vision for the future of Apple, while taking a swipe at Apple’s then-triumphant rival, Microsoft (“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste — they have absolutely no taste.”).
“Apple was a company that was based on innovation. ... The way out is not to slash and burn, it’s to innovate.”
- Steve Jobs, undated interview with Louis Rukeyser
In another undated interview with PBS “Wall Street Week” host Louis Rukeyser, Jobs discusses his work with Pixar, which he bought from Star Wars creator and Industrial Light and Magic founder George Lucas. During the interview, Jobs discusses how innovation was at the heart of Apple, and how innovation would be its path back to success. The interview came at a critical period in Jobs’s career — a period where both Apple and Pixar were struggling — a scenario that is almost impossible to imagine today.
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