I don’t think Steve Jobs’s aim was to build a personality cult around himself or even a cult around his products. He did give credit to his colleagues. And:
“Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”
The respect people gave him wasn’t cultish.
“In a world of second-rate products [of corner-cutting], where people only care about the bottom line, where excellence is for pussies, I revere Steve Jobs and Apple”: Bob Lefsetz in 2009, expressing what most people felt.
Bryan Appleyard on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday:
“[Jobs] had an almost spiritual sense of his products, he believed in them being well designed in areas you couldn’t see [ie the inside and the back]. He thought design ran through the whole product.”
The spiritual analogy holds water.
“The back is left with the unfinish of commercial callousness. What does not show does not matter.”
I’m sure that the makers of icons in Orthodox Christianity paid attention to the wood that that they were about to treat and paint.
Why these things mattered in Christian art is explained by Carey and has of course nothing exactly to do with what motivated Jobs. But Appleyard’s “almost spiritual” is a valid analogy.
“If [Lambert-Rucki’s crucifix] were the idea [my italics: as distinct from the representation] of Christ in a body of bronze, that body would have been finished in those parts that do not appear as well as in those that do. The nails would have been real bronze nails, and the attachment of the corpus by them would have been a real attachment. This would have been quite easy. But no. The nails are nails of appearance only, heads without any function other than visual effect. The real attachments are two rough iron pins, one in the left heel and one in the back.”
I don’t want to drive this point too hard, or be sent into pseuds’ corner, but Jonathan Ive would understand, in secular design terms, what that passage meant.
Most of what Jobs said was memorable. He didn’t speak corporate jargon. Even on the Beatles: “They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other”, and from his challenge to Sculley: did he want to “sell sugar water for the rest of [his] life or come with me and change the world?” to his Stanford commencement speech.
Substance and concision are the mark of a mind. Jobs always showed them. So is a certain simplicity, which he had. Mossberg doesn’t glorify him and mentions his “nasty, mercurial side”.
Jobs was blessed by the counter-culture of the ’60s although born too late to be part of it.
The long early Playboy interview, published in February 1985, a few months before he was fired from Apple (beginning his dreaded computer dark ages, but a seminal period for him), is interesting.
“We’re living in the wake of the petrochemical revolution of 100 years ago. The petrochemical revolution gave us free energy – free mechanical energy, in this case. It changed the texture of society in most ways. This revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind: free intellectual energy. It’s very crude today, yet our Macintosh computer takes less power than a 100-watt lightbulb to run and it can save you hours a day. What will it be able to do ten or 20 years from now, or 50 years from now? This revolution will dwarf the petrochemical revolution.”
My favourite Jobs moment is this, from 1996, I assume after Apple had announced that it would buy NeXT, but certainly before Apple’s rapprochement with Microsoft, which happened in the following year (how irrelevant that seems now):
Admittedly, there is a slight non-sequitur at the end of Jobs’s statement.