back to article The life and times of Steven Paul Jobs, Part One

When sober, F. Scott Fitzgerald may have been devastatingly intelligent, but he got it dead wrong when he wrote "there are no second acts in American lives". Think Elvis, for example. Or lefty sinkerballer Tommy John of the eponymous surgery. Or, for that matter, Grover Cleveland, whose two acts as US president were separated …


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  1. Andus McCoatThen

    He changed the world of computing.

    Thinner, lighter, faster. Your devices moved the world into a new age of ubiquitous computing.

    Wherever you are now, may your code always compile and your devices "just work."

    RIP Steve.

    1. N2


      May those who imitate your software & products, continue to fail dismally

      RIP Steve

      1. Bear Features

        Can't you leave it alone even now? Everybody imitates everybody.

      2. Paul RND*1000

        Sorry, but I had to downvote that. Uncalled for, N2.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never been an Apple guy...

    But Steve's life is amazing. Watch "Pirates of Silicon Valley" for more insight, though take it with a grain of salt.

    Thanks for a well written, well researched, insightful article.

    Truly the end of an epoch with Steve's passing.

  3. JaitcH

    Kind of a long article ...

    for The Reg.

    He was an American businessman. He hsad many of the attributes of Oracle's Ellison. Both could read the market.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My Nan used to tell me "if you've got nothing nice to say, say nothing". Sage advice, but I'm going to ignore it for now. We all know what a vitriolic little shit you can be, so please do the world a favour and keep it to yourself for a day or two, not out of respect for anyone but yourself. You really are a petty and small man.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know I know

    Im about to get blasted here but....

    I cant say that I am sorry about this. I believe apple has done more hard to computing with Jobs at the helm than even Microsoft.

    They have pissed off numerous people just to keep their untarnished image.

    This is not the way to do things in business as I see it. They need to address the problems rather than sweep them under the rug. They need to not ban people from forums for posting about issues they are having with their hardware. etc etc

    Although a death is sad I cant hope but wish with this having happened Apple will become more open with their devices and will someday become what they are meant to be, a company who is on equal ground with Microsoft so that we have choices in computers instead of being forced to chose based off what we want to do with a device.

    Let the flaming commence.

    1. N2

      Anonymous Coward

      enough said

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fuck off.

    3. David Barrett

      "This is not the way to do things in business as I see it"...

      Maybe, but I think the stock price would suggest otherwise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Stock price

        So you'd support "bankers" and their high stock prices (and business practices) then?

    4. Lamont Cranston

      "This is not the way to do things in business as I see it."

      Making oodles of money, is not the way to do business?

    5. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Name ten or so things you've done to change the world for the better?

      It's very easy to be an armchair pundit and slate people, but the medium you are using to spew your negative comments (ie. the WWW) was developed on a NeXT computer, y'know the company Steve Jobs created when he left Apple.

      Who knows, maybe the WWW would have been worse if Tim Berners-Lee had written it on another computer. Those who have programmed NeXT machines were always praising its ease of development.

      Monopolies don't help any industry and the re-emergence of Apple has been good for the industry. Windows Vista and Windows 7 are heavily inspired by OSX.

      1. fatchap

        Never let facts get in the way of a good rant.

        The funny thing is he did create it on something else.

        Enquire, which was were he first "invented" hypertext ( was written on a Norsk Data mini-computer, a NORD-10 no less.

  5. jake Silver badge

    I knew mine would be rejected.

    The person nixing mine would do well to ask himself "why", rather than pointing me to the "why" page.

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Congratlations! Level Complete!

    New High Score!

    Get Ready for Next Level

  7. Archimedes_Circle

    Not to be morbid or anything, but how long have you had this one ready?

    And more importantly, can I proof the copies of Linus' and Bill's? Or even Ballmer's?!

    Edited for being rejected:Seriously, it's perfectly acceptable to have had this written in advance, considering his health complications, you wouldn't be performing due diligence if you didn't. Doesn't mean I can't poke the angry bear from time to time. I would still love to have Ballmer's reg edited biopic though.

    1. Armando 123

      Newspapers -- in so far as there still are newspapers -- have these things in readiness for a lot of well-known people, particularly those who are or have had health issues. It seems a bit morbid from the outside, but it makes a lot of sense. You give a more accurate, lengthy retrospective on someone, which is in fact a more respectful result.

      1. Paul RND*1000

        Indeed, as proved by the dozens of occasions where an obituary got published by accident when its subject was very much still alive.

        It does allow for a much more complete obit though, which is why it's always been done this way.

  8. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Nothing personal against the guy, he was a stunningly good businessman who knew how to hire the best people to design things to offer people, that people didn't even know they needed, that's a great talent.

    Rather tragic end to a stunning career in technology.

  9. Big Al

    Er, whut?

    Whatever one may think of Steve Jobs, his impact was immense, and he left this world far too early for someone with such drive.

    On a different note entirely... "Tommy John of the eponymous surgery" - Tommy John surgery may well be something that baseball fans know about, but over on the eastern side of the Pond it's going to cause 'John Thomas' jokes...

  10. Just4pLeisure

    Polarising, maybe.

    But undeniably one of the world's greatest inspirational men. Thank you Steve.

  11. LarsG

    Too soon

    We didnt have to agree with him or like what he stood for but without doubt he was worthy of admiration.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He was a true visionary who in his work always made quality his first priority, something from which so many in the tech. world can and should learn. rip.

  13. redpaul1

    Second Acts

    Fitzgerald got it right: There are no second acts in American lives because they jump straight from the first to the third act. It's a theatrical metaphor.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    RIP Steve.

    No matter what my personal opinion of your methods or your company, you were a hell of a businessman to be able to drive the wreckage of Apple to become what it is today..

    Looking forward to part 2.

  15. Pamplemoose

    You can hate Apple and there business practices all you want, but remember this, without the drive of Steve Jobs in the last 10 years we wouldn't have things as good as we do now. Apple products have forced other companies to up their game and that's a good thing for everyone.

    RIP Steve :(

    1. Jamchal

      Agreed, imagine if it wasn't for Steve, we may all still be using feature phones with 12mpx cameras and triple led flashes and innovation would have been stifled.

    2. Toastan Buttar

      We've up'ed our game... up yours!

  16. thechevron

    samsung will be gutted

  17. Andrew Moore

    On the plus side...

    ...his death is a boon for tech journalists who had set aside thousands of column inches which were to be devoted to the iPhone 5.

  18. gautam

    Sad, Steve.

    He upped the bar for all the consumer products we enjoy today. (eg. Mp3 players , phones, Pods, Pads et al)

    Even The Register will be a duller place, flamers have no whipping boy and punching bag ( No Sarcasm intended) .

    Thanks for everything, Steve. Will miss ya! :(

  19. Hud Dunlap

    He wasn't a stunningly good businessman.

    My opinion of him completely changed after reading this article. He used the fact that he had money and his Pixar employees didn't to take their shares from them. That's what made him rich.

    The type of man who would make Herman Cain proud.

    For those who missed it. Herman Cain said if you are unemployed and not rich it is your fault.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No he didn't, stop being a nit.

  20. TalesOfaFlaneur

    Work is the best antidote to sorrow

    "Work is the best antidote to sorrow" suggested Sherlock Holmes to a shocked Watson upon his reappearance in London in the story "The Adventure of the Empty House".

    This morning I feel creative and it's time to make something insanely great.

    How about you?

  21. Tony Paulazzo

    Have a smooth journey

    Opened up my Google home page and saw his name and dates, from - to. My thoughts:

    1) Fuck :-(

    2) Flash on the ipad :-)

    3) That was cheap, even for me :-(

    4) Wonder if he transferred his consciousness to that server farm he built.

    The only paper carrying his picture was The Guardian - classy.

    Wherever you're bound Mr Jobs (assuming an afterlife), may you be happy - you made the world a more interesting place.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Superb Article

    Looking forward to part 2. I'm not an apple fanboi, in fact quite the opposite, I dislike hate them and their products, and their closed approach, but I am enjoying a well researched and well written article as to how they (Apple) achieved so much in so many markets - Apple laptops define "cool" for so many (so many non tech ppl I might emphasise) and they really did define the mp3 player and "pad" products. (Remember the "it will never catch on" threads when iPad was revealed?) I want to hear how these products were born and became what they are today. Thanks!

    I am also interested in the "effective CEO" phenomenon. Do CEOs deserve their high salaries? Steve seems to be a case where the answer is "yes". Even in a company with so many employees, he seems to have made a genuine difference. In most companies I have worked in you would never notice a CEO change at the ground / engineering levels (where I work).

    1. Armando 123

      "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

      I used that the other day when a crap-wagon-driving friend claimed he wouldn't buy the car we are considering because he didn't see the point of having something that can actually accelerate.

  23. Little Poppet


    I don't own any Apple tech but you can't deny Steve Jobs changed the perception of technology vs consumerism and brought it to a much wider audience.

    Some might dislike him/his philosophy/Apple on a number of levels, including myself, but no one can deny he was instrumental in a lot of positive developments that steered the tech world to where it is today.

  24. Goat Jam

    A fully tricked-out Apple II – every geek's object of lust

    Indeed it was.

    I was but a young whippersnapper when my school received its one and only Apple ][ computer way back in 1980 and what a time of wonder it was.

    We used to book time on "the computer" in 10 minute lots, most of which were spent copying each others disks.

    Apple Panic (aka Lode Runner) , Escape From Castle Wolfenstein (Ach Leiben, your caught!"), Wizardry and Blitzkreig! were favourites that I remember to this day.

    I had a disk box that I built out of wood with my own hands that would hold the handful of 5.25 inch single sided floppies that I could afford to buy.

    Joyous was the day when we discovered that the judicious application of a boxcutter knife enabled us to double our "storage capacity" x2 by cutting out the write enable notch allowing the flip side of the diskette to be used.

    Learning how to write programs in BASIC and later 6502 "machine code".

    PEEKS and POKES.

    In those days computers were exciting. They were a new frontier. It was like riding a wave. With a computer *anything* was possible.

    These days it is all about lock down and lock in.

    Computer users are something to be controlled and harvested for personal information.

    Gone are the exciting days of finding a new program and the wonder of what can be achieved.

    Ditching Windows (which has long been a tool for corporates intent on user control) for the "wild west" of Linux (and the Internet) has bought some of that innocent wonder of old back but the truth be told we will never see those halcyon days again.

    I'm just grateful that I had some small involvement in the wonder of those times

    I pity the kids of today. Bought up on Windows and WGA not to mention iOS and the "walled garden".

    The tech is much more impressive these days, but it is also much more cold and sterile.

    God I feel old.

    1. Paw Bokenfohr

      Just one thing.

      Box cutter? We used a hole punch ;-)

    2. P. Lee

      re: A fully tricked-out Apple II – every geek's object of lust

      Absolutely agree with all of this.

      My days with Apple ][+ were the best. I remember opening up the disk drive case to tweak the drive speed to beat copy protection schemes; writing assembly code called from a basic loop for searching disks for splash-screen sectors, loading them up in order, editing the graphic with beagle bros and writing them back; hooking the reset button to display fancy graphics. Ahhh.

      Perhaps some of the "walled garden" issues and the complete focus on the consumer rather than business market were/are really more about isolating the apple environment and preventing things becoming beholden to outside commercial interests, allowing Steve to do new things he found fun, rather than worrying about backward compatibility of some database app. Perhaps the apparent lack of care for customers is about the focus on "doing fun, cool stuff," and assuming someone somewhere will like it enough to pay for it. Finding something you love doing and never working a single day, and all that.

      Having watched the NeXTStep demo, I'm struck by the fact that functionality-wise, we really have not progressed much with integration. I'm sad that mostly we have prettier window-managers and more complex document formatting (for all the good it does us) but not much more to show for the massive increase in power and resources at our disposal. Mostly, it's been eaten up by abstraction and incompetent coding. Whatever you think of the current Apple regime, at least they do try to "bring to the masses" the coolest stuff they can think of, whether or not they actually invented it.

      Linux and even OSX going out against the windows monoculture has provided a little diversion but now there is little chance for radical change. It is no longer about better tech, its about the size of your patent portfolio (defensive or otherwise), its about the cost of managing change, its about the fear of the pagination being wrong if a document was created in OOo and exported to Word format rather than created in Word.

      Castle Wolfenstein... how I remember the adrenalin pump of rushing to stab a guard before he turned and saw me, then whipping out a pistol and shooting the other guard as he raced towards the alarm, or getting the password wrong twice in a row. Black-ops my have better graphics but there's no substitute for game-play. The hours I spent playing Falcon, Space War, Karateka, Swashbuckler, Conan, Aztec, Bards Tale, Choplifter...

      Let's hope the *pad tech, ARM and arduino-type systems push people to consider what can be done with less, so that we can get some interest back. Perhaps embedded is the last space where ecosystem is not the over-riding factor of importance.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SJ RIP

    RIP SJ - thank you for the great gadgets - wherever you are may you find the peace and health you could not find here on earth

  26. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Up

    I'm posting here 'cos the other article's comments are WAY TOO long already!

    The arguments can rage back and forth about SJ and Apples' influence on the world, but for Pixart alone he deserves so much gratitude: some of the best (childrens?) films ever made, and entertainment to countless millions the world over! Thanks from me, and my kids, Steve ;-)

  27. Andy Farley


    Pat pend.

    1. RegGuy


      See title.

  28. kermitfrog

    Some of my order implied

    Apple][,, neat ad, Macintosh, Mac, 10MB HD brick-- scsi forever, System 7 sucks less, Think...LightSpeed!!, Mac II, MPW, *COLOR*, Codewarrior, MacApp, ..., *struggle*, NeXt cube, Obj-C {bleech} long live Pascal!, iMac - Yum,!,...Newton (stylus)...Macbook, iMac TNG 'all-in-one' (again),..."Cars" DVDs/Blurays for every under 6yr male I know-- good grief!, iOS/iTouch...WWDC closer: "Welcome to the party Microsoft...we're leaving".

  29. RegGuy

    A shit to his own?

    "Jobs took credit for the design and snookered Wozniak out of his rightful share of the pay and bonus that Jobs was given for "his" work."

    What a mate!

  30. Lamont Cranston

    This article

    was an excellent read. Thank you.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He got what he wanted...

    He wanted to make a dent in the fabric of life on earth. And he did. Some of us may not particularly like the dent he made, but he sure made one.

  32. Sean Baggaley 1

    Well... damn!

    A sad loss to the industry, as well as to his family. You don't get characters like that often.


    To those who continue to criticise Jobs... good CEOs aren't _supposed_ to be nice. The only exceptions are edge cases like the John Lewis Partnership. (Well worth researching if you're unfamiliar with this iconic British retailer's unusual history and management structure.)

    You need a streak of ruthlessness to do justice to the role of corporate CEO. This inevitably rubs _some_ people up the wrong way, and in a company the size of Apple, that's inevitably going to result in the occasional employee whining about Steve Jobs' "abrasive" personality. Yes, he was a bit mean to people on occasion, but given that Woz was getting endless free plays of his gaming addiction in return, I doubt he was all that annoyed by it. It's not as if Atari were paying spectacular rates back then.

    Re. NeXT's sale to Apple. Yes, Jobs kept the shares. He _started the damned company!_ It was HIS money that was risked, not his employees'! Even so, many ex-NeXT staffers came to work for Jobs at Apple too, and they presumably did get share options as part of their pay deals. So it's not as if nobody benefited at all.

    Jobs reminded the world how it's done. THIS is how you ran a company. It took him a while to learn how to do it—he was right about being ousted from Apple back in the mid-80s was the best thing that ever happened to him—and he came damned close to failing at NeXT and Pixar. He got lucky. But he knew how to capitalise on that luck too.

    It's a shame he died so young, but there's no denying that he'd already lived a more eventful life than most of us.

    (And it's amazing just how far ahead of its time NeXTStep was. OS X's Interface Builder is still recognisable from that video, as its power.)

  33. NoseBagUK

    What a terrible article, Howard the Duck is a great film

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Elbereth

    I'll Be Back...

    After reading the first page of this brilliant hommage and article. Thank you Mr Myslewski.

  36. Andus McCoatover

    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

    "We're born, we live for a brief instant, and we die." -S. Jobs

    "Life's but a poor player, who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, then is seen no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" W Shakespeare (Scottish Play)

    Which is more fitting?

  37. JaitcH

    Another remembers Jobs at school

    MikeBelmes wrote:

    "Like most people with a touch of genius, he had quite an odd personality. I have 2 recollections of him from my childhood.

    1 - He was a bully (verbally and physically) to the young kids, not nice at all (we were on the same swim team (Mtn. View Dolphins) and my sister and his sister (from his adoptive parents) were best friends for a time. My mom advised me to stay away from him. We also car pooled with them for a while.

    2 - He took a starters pistol which had been converted from a real pistol, aimed at someone and shot it. Fragments from the converted pistol shot out(I don't know how) and hit someone...I don't remember who. He was kicked off the team."

    Source: < >

    1. sboz

      Starter pistol-just the facts

      The starter pistol was not converted from a real gun. Sometimes there is discharge from the "blanks" that are loaded into the pistol to make the sound. I know because I have the starter pistol.My dad was the coach of the MV Dolphins when Steve was on the team. I am sure the incident happened. I am just that it was not a real gun (btw-starter pistols did look like real guns in those days).

  38. Unicornpiss

    One thing for sure...

    It truly says something about life that you can struggle against the odds, make it to the top, make your mark on the world, and still die at a fairly early age at the top of your game due to circumstances utterly beyond your control.

    If there is an afterlife, I wonder if he has regrets, like not treating some of his employees a little better... Regardless, having gotten my first computer (a Commodore PET) in those early days, it makes me feel old.

  39. druck Silver badge

    Page 11: "It was Rubenstein who managed the breakneck pace of the iMac's development that enabled it to make it to its May 1988 coming-out party."

    That should be 1998.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad when most people die.

    Not just him, but I never bought any of his products. This doesn't mean they're bad and it doesn't mean I disliked him. It means I don't like being manipulated, and I don't subscribe to hype if I recognise it.

    I would never buy any machine where the performance was deliberately set low, and the design precluded upgrading, just so the next version could be bigger. This doesn't make him brilliant, it makes the purchaser a chump. This is business I agree. But like Yoda saying "Not many of those, wars not make men great." it may be business, but that makes him successful, not brilliant, nor good.

    I don't subscribe to any service either, if I can help it, that precludes me moving away. There's nothing consumer friendly about iTunes for instance, it survives because it finds enough people to lock themselves in; all other music services fail because they're too nice to their customers. I despair at people who say, "I think XXXX is brilliant because he's tricked me into a contract where I can't leave without great expense to myself."

    I don't really rate his "I work for a dollar" pronouncement either, if I had 8 billion dollars by engineering people into contracts where they were there because of my persona, I wouldn't charge people for my hobby either.

    He also found some great designers to work for him, but above all, he crafted a public facing image for a company that Microsoft would die for, and a customer following that is akin to religion. I don't really rate this either. Religious adherence to anything precludes original thought.

    He was undoubtedly bright, but so are lots of people. Having watched MSDOS destroy CP/M, Oracle destroy Ingres, and c++ defeat Ada in the real time arena, I view success as the sum of luck, marketing, customer ignorance, and right place right time and the biggest of these is luck. Success at business is mostly luck in my opinion, mostly luck, even if the successful look back and think it was mostly destiny. Business success means just that, business success. It may lionise, but doesn't beatify someone. I respected his business, but I've had eleven Toyotas in a row, and have never had an Alfa. I also have no problem with his early adopter customers, but this doesn't make him brilliant, it makes his customers who they are.

    That said, why would I be happy that he died? The answer is I'm not, as he had more to give. But thousands of people died on Omaha beach because one stupid general refused mine clearance equipment because the mine clearer looked stupid. I feel more loss for all of them, who died because a guy wouldn't take something because of what it looked like, rather than what it did, than a guy who makes things that people buy because of what they look like, and not what they do, even if all my mates own one of his products.

    Not to mention that he admitted he destroyed his teacher's life and never apologised for it. People are worthless in my book if, on recognising their failures, they don't atone.

    I imagine quite a few red arrows, but he was just a business man. He sold toys that were easy to use, and looked nicer than other people's. He didn't cure cancer.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just think for a moment

    Although undoubtedly a personal tragedy and a very sad event, let us not forget that Steve Jobs, plus Bill Gates and the rest of that ilk presided over the destruction of the British consumer computer industry in the mid-80's.

    Remember Sinclair? Acorn? Tangerine/Oric? Nascom? Dragon, Newbrain and many other small, innovative home grown companies that were just wiped out. in just a few short years.

    Had some of them still been around 10 years later I am pretty sure we would have seen locally created MP3 players long before the iPod plus all the other technologies.

    And a large chunk of the technology that the big companies claim to have created was in fact bought in, stolen or lifted from other companies. And we all know where the name 'Apple' came from!

    So I say, lets mourn the man, but lets not forget the consequences of what happened to our own computer industry.

  42. Dylan Fahey

    Empy your minds.

    How empty your lives are if you think Jobs did nothing more than hoodwink millions of people into using a closed system crippled with DRM, and control of users at every step of any process.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this is the best article i've read on Jobs

    Reg, good job, you did your homework, and really brought it home with this one. The only thing I might add, is Jobs wanted to capture the next generation by getting the iie into class rooms, thereby capturing them at a key point in their upbringing. I'm guessing he was inspired by Saul Alinksy

    1. jake Silver badge

      @AC 20:10

      Getting Macs into classrooms was all Guy Kawasaki.

      I was in attendance at the "better than Heroin" meeting.

      It's the reason I quit working for Apple; I was totally fucking disgusted.

  44. Gian


    there is no mention of the licensing of NExtStep software to IBM as a graphic interface for Unix workstations

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