back to article The life and times of Steven Paul Jobs

Before Steve Jobs introduced the iMac on May 6, 1998, his life – as we detailed earlier – had been a roller-coaster of ups and downs. After the iMac shipped on August 15 of that same year, however, he and the company he led traded that carnival ride for a rocket. The iMac was an immediate success. "We have had a phenomenal …


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  1. Meph

    Some confuse great with good

    Thank you for a most interesting and insightful article.

    I have to say though that a great many people choose only to acknowledge someone's greatness if they are also universally held to be "good".

    Personally I don't agree with the walled garden principle myself, and its a well documented phenomenon that nice people rarely make it in big business.

    To reject someone's impact on an industry, and indeed the world at large, simply because of this view seems somehow spiteful though.

  2. Chad H.


    But to swing too far in the other direction is to be equally reductionist. It's difficult, for example, to be any more over-the-top hagiographic than the headline of another reminiscence in Forbes: "Steve Jobs Reinvented What It Means to be Human".


    Give him another 5-10 years and he probably would have. Chips that allow control via thought are in their infancy....

  3. LarsG

    In a different era....

    Would he have been a malevolant dictator of a country or a peoples benefactor, I leave it for you to decide.

    1. JimC

      > a malevolent dictator or a people's benefactor

      Not unknown to be both.. Julius Caesar, for instance, was: indeed history has universally recognised him as a great man, but, I suggest, very rarely as a good one.

      1. Ilgaz

        Dictators were elected too

        In Roman republic, Senate said "We are in crisis and last thing we would want would be little political, burocratic games" so they elected a dictator. Obviously, thanks to human nature, dictators were hard to get rid of once elected except one heroic general.

        Kinda funny that Apple was also in similar shape when they had to call SJobs back.

        It is the 20th and 21th centuries where dictator got its bad meaning.

  4. Geoff Thompson

    Thank You

    A very thoughtful and balanced article.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you, Rik, lovely piece

    One little area I think could do with some more light shed on it is the iTMS DRM thing: Jobs hated it, but it was the only way to convince the record industry to come on board. So it was glommed onto tracks from the iTMS, and then, once it became such a success, he set about getting rid of it again. The campaign took the familiar form of toe-in-the-water experiments with DRM-free iTunes Plus releases, and then, once they proved successful too, the wholesale ditching of DRM from the iTunes Store.

    1. Ian Ferguson


      but I always read his attitude to DRM as more of a marketing tool than genuine. To the public: "I hate DRM, we're all in this together"; to the industry: "DRM will make us loads and loads of lovely dosh."

  6. jonathan1
    Thumb Up


    I really enjoyed that article,

    Just goes to show even CEOs are like onions...or parfait.

    1. thefutureboy
      Thumb Up

      Everybody likes parfait

      Parfait's gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Everybody likes parfait

        Yes, Rick Parfait, of Status Quo, is one of the world’s greatest rhythm guitarists.

        Mines the one with the white telecaster in the pocket

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Off topic, but

          Personally I put Nile Rodgers along way ahead of Mr. Parfitt for that title :-P

  7. amanfromearth

    Excellent article

    And very well balanced. Thanks Rik.

  8. Greencat

    Excellent two part series

    Great article - and to my mind, balanced. But perhaps that's because I've loved some of Apple's products and hated others. Thought some of Jobs' ideas were astonishingly good and others just meh. I leave the ideological hated (or love) for others. Life is too short.

  9. uhuznaa

    Fun with numbers

    "We can't wait to feature your software right here, in every single one of our stores. So, go write some more for us, and we'll build more shelves for as much as you can write."

    If all of the apps currently in the iOS App Store would come in a shrinkwrapped package 4 cm wide and you'd install an aisle five shelves high to hold all of them, it would need to be 4 km long to display them all.

    1. Jedit

      An interesting statistic

      Then again, if you take away all the fart apps you could fit the rest along one wall of the average bedsit.

    2. A J Stiles

      Metric FTW (again)

      Try doing that calculation in US measurements!

      (Now if only Apple had made some sort of measuring device -- it would be bound to be metric-only .....)

  10. Mick Stranahan

    One thing missing

    When Bill Gates' turn comes I don't doubt the B&M Gates Foundation will figure prominently in the man's legacy. In all the copy I've read about Steve Jobs and Apple under his leadership I've read not one word about any part of either's vast fortune being put to charitable use in any way. Is this because they didn't or they did/do but keep it under wraps?

    When a man is worth that much money and this much coverage surely attention must and should be paid to what he did outside the narrow confines of the business he worked in?

    1. amanfromearth

      I think the point is that he did nothing outside of Apple and Pixar. He succeeded because work was his whole focus.

      Not a choice many would take, certainly not I, but maybe he was so driven by it that he couldn't do otherwise.

    2. moonoi


      Quite frankly why is it important? He earned his cash, and did with it whatever he chose. Just because he was insanely rich is no reason at all. Bills' Foundation does do good, but I still believe it to be a PR exercise, rather than any real desire to benefit anyone....although it does have that as a bonus......if you care.

      Steve clearly didn't. :-)

  11. James 51

    A little harsh on the Zen Jukebox

    I've had a 30gb version since it came out and it's still going strong and holds my entire music collection. My wife has gone through two ipods in that time and has to decide every few weeks what she's going to take off to make room for something she hasn't heard in a while. The ipod is good device but not to the point were everything else on the market deserves to be ignored or marked down for the ways in which it is different.

    BTW she and every other ipod/iphone owner I know hates itunes to the point some have stopped buying iproducts. It is the one area were Apple should be merciless hammered until they get it right.

  12. LuMan
    Thumb Up

    Loved it!

    An excellently written and put-together article. The Reg bosses should be proud of you. One of the best articles I've read on this e-tome for a long time.

    WRT Mr Jobs - the discussions in the workplace, pub, breakfast table or anywhere will continue to portray a man deserved of both like and dislike. We've seen in these forums how he has been lambasted and revered in equal measure (and you can make your own mind up as to whether he deserved it or not).

    My tuppenyworth: The world needs people like Jobs. They may not always be liked, but they give us fuel for debate while, more importantly, moving us forward. I liked the man. He will be missed.

  13. Andus McCoatover

    Good read!

    Thanks. It was fair.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Empire-building inspirational visionary, or megalomaniacal swine?"

    Well, his OS doesn't crash very often, isn't lumbered with a huge registry and actually works...

    1. dogged

      only on hardware specifically designed to run it.

      This is the beginnings of control-freakery seen elsewhere. Making an OS work is easy if you absolutely control the hardware. It's a bitch if you don't.

      This is, to take a non-Apple example, why MS WP7 works very well while WM6 was crap.

      1. Sean Baggaley 1

        So you agree...

        ... that Apple was right to focus on keeping their product line simple?

        This is a classic example of all that's wrong with the IT industry: this notion that choice _for its own sake_ is some kind of virtue. This is utter bullshit, and it's precisely why the most "pro-choice" community of all has spectacularly failed to make any inroads in the consumer space despite well over two decades of trying.

        (Incidentally: any GNU fanboy who wishes to complain about Steve Jobs' imperfections should first do something about that moron they worship, Richard Stallman. His recent comments were hardly a great advertisement for his character, or his supporters. It says a lot about Stallman that even Steve Ballmer and Samsung were a hell of a lot classier in their reactions.)

        Apple aren't "control freaks". They're just making computers and other consumer electronics. You're perfectly free to buy somebody else's, and you always were. Nothing has changed there.

        1. dogged


          I make judgements. It was a commercial choice and one that has paid off, failed, paid off again and may well fail again for all we know.

          It does irritate me when Mac fans continually go on about how brilliant OSX is because "it works". Well... so does linux, on linux-specced hardware. So does Win7 on Win7 specced hardwared. So did VAX VMS on a VAX.

          That's not exactly miraculous.

          The amazing bit is that other OSs work as well as they do on as many systems as they do. If Lewis Hamilton could ONLY drive a F1 car, he'd be crap for taking your granny to the shops.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      His OS...

      LOL, just LOL...

  15. gautam

    New Title

    " A great Re-inventor".

    Thats all!

  16. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    Excellent couple of articles

    I'm not familiar with Steve Jobs (to be fair, none of us really are) but his personality sounds classically sociopathic to me - which, of course, most people would read as a bad thing (hence Bad Steve) but generally makes for a successful and driven manager (hence Good Steve).

  17. jubtastic1
    Thumb Up

    Thanks Rik

    Both parts were a great read.

    From the management style interview it appears that Steve acted as a sounding board to most of the major project teams, I can't see anyone else filling those shoes. I realise there's a lot of stuff in the pipeline that will see daylight as the years roll by, but who could guess what he'd be prepared to go all in on a decade from now? there's going to be a whole heap of stuff that's unlikely to happen now because no one else seems to have the passion to risk their livelihoods on an idea.

    We've lost a rare thing, a dreamer that actually delivered, A loss to the whole industry.

    Sent from my iPad

  18. jake Silver badge


    Steve was a friend of mine for over thirty years.

    He probably liked me because I don't have time to $DEIFY human beings ... and likewise have the ability to look past marketing bullshit to see technological reality.

    Rest in piece, Steve. And relax ... you're in a better place now, regardless of whether or not there is an after-life.

  19. pip25
    Thumb Up

    Excellent, insightful article

    Both parts of it. Managed to stay balanced as well, in my opinion. Thank you for the read.

  20. Mondo the Magnificent
    Thumb Up


    Thanks El Reg, I've been awaiting Part Deux with anticipation!

    Call Steve Jobs a capitalist, communist, autocrat, democrat, angel, demon, irritating or inspiring, but two things he will always be is smart and entertaining!

    A fitting tribute to one of the most colourful characters in our market area!

  21. John I'm only dancing

    Benevolent or malevolent

    It is very hard to decide between the two. Like Rik, I will confess to being a Fanboi, whatever that means. But having used Macs for close to 25 years now, and maintained, reinstalled, wiped and a thousand and one other things on family pcs (Windows variety), I do know the Mac has been more reliable and functional.

    Steve Jobs was most definitely a visionary, most of his ideas were brilliant and some were poor. But always at the heart of it was making the whole computer experience simpler for the end user. Despite this being a tech site for geeks, the vast majority of computer users just want something that works.

    Compared to Bill Gates, he truly innovated, whereas Bill was seemingly just in it for the money. It will be a long time before we see his like again, if ever. Love him or loath him, Steve Jobs will be missed the world over.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "I do know the Mac has been more reliable and functional."

      I'd have to cite one thing you can do on a Mac but not a PC, but there isn't anything. You're just trolling.

      "Compared to Bill Gates, he truly innovated, whereas Bill was seemingly just in it for the money."

      I rofled. Obvious troll is obvious. Bill Gates gives it all away to charity in impoverished countries. Steve Jobs refuses to part with even a dime.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I'd have to cite one thing you can do on a Mac but not a PC, but there isn't anything."

        Reverse that statement and you will find PLENTY.

        Make me want to vomit.

      2. John I'm only dancing


        There is only one troll here and is not I. Bill Gates never really gave anything away, except for a crappy web browser, and that was only in the interest of making his bug-ridden stuff the dominant player in the market.

      3. Alex King
        Thumb Down


        "I'd have to cite one thing you can do on a Mac but not a PC, but there isn't anything."

        Run OSX?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You can certainly run OSX on a PC, next.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sort of ok steve

    Great man, but I prefer the benevolant idiot as boss model.

  23. pdb

    Worked for him for 20 years, he fired and re-hired me in the same day once. Consider myself very lucky to have known him (even if it was just in a very minor way). He was the most unique individual I have had the pleasure of meeting.

    Whatever your opinion of him was, you have to acknowledge the world of is a less interesting place with him gone.


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "... inspirational visionary, or megalomaniacal swine?"

    I'll vote for the latter.

    1. ArmanX

      Does it have to be either/or?

      My vote is both - he was a great manager, had great vision, and was so full of himself his ego bought its own jet.

  25. Wang N Staines


    After reading both parts, I got the impression that Jobs liked to take credit for other people's work.

    Maybe I'm wrong...

  26. Dana W

    Cna't he be both?

    They tend to go together. A person with an IDEA and the sheer willpower to execute it without approval, committees,or the inertia of corporate culture, solely out of his own vision is always branded a megalomaniac.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    megalomaniacal swine

    And intellectual property thief.

  28. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Empire-building inspirational visionary, or megalomaniacal swine?


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Empire-building inspirational visionary, or megalomaniacal swine?"

    Insiprational visionary seems him better than it does anyone at MS. The Apple OS is stable, doesn't rely on a bloated registry and it works!

  30. ropie
    Thumb Up

    A fascinating read

    about a fascinating human being, with a life story that will certainly be remembered over the coming century. Oddly, it seems that he is still out there somewhere, in the devices, code and systems that he worked so hard to sell.

  31. fattymcbutterpants

    "decisive decisions"

    Well that's certainly better than those indecisive ones!

  32. Mkame Ndume

    A Mountain Has Fallen

    As we say in our part of the world, a mountain has fallen.

    As all great people are, he just needed to be good in the things he did best.

  33. fattymcbutterpants
    Thumb Down

    megalomaniacal swine

    Nice insult, (insert expletive here).


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