Friday, September 02, 2011

Steve Jobs - I idolize him

I've never met him and he has had an enormous impact on how I work, how I think, and my ambitions. I was at 3DO when he was NeXt, we shared a cafeteria. I stood next to him in the cafeteria line a number of times. He wasn't real friendly or approachable.  I tried not to stare.

I have a small library of big Steve Jobs stories that account for the impact he has had on me.  One was shortly after Jobs returned to Apple. It was told to me by a friend name Rick who was one of the supergeeks, independent at the time.  He loved the NeXt interface and for his amusement, ported it onto the Mac (or copied it) and started distributing it. One day the phone rings, it's Steve Jobs who wants to know if he would have time to come over to Cupertino to meet him. Steve shows him around Apple, discusses a number of philosophical and technical issues, gets to know Rick, and even shows him (after Rick agrees verbally not to discuss them), some upcoming products.  Takes him to lunch in the cafeteria. Long lunch. Introduces him to all sorts of people.  Walks him to the car after lunch and asks casually in the parking lot, "Heh, hows that going with your NeXt software clone? Would you stop distributing it, its an awkward situation for us?"

Problem solved. No enemies created. No waste of time with lawyers. Very efficient use of Jobs time overall.  I found the vision and savoir-faire in that one story (which might not be dead-accurate), forever inspiring.

Prior to 3DO, I worked at SGI. At SGI, I worked with a software partner called Pixar that had some software for 3D rendering called RenderMan, some artistic ambitions that were only seeing the light of day in their annual Siggraph animation, and some people who were electric to talk to. They radiated vision, know-how, creativity, and work ethic. And patience.  George Lucas had ditched these people as too dreamy and too expensive for him to continue supporting. A guy named Steve Jobs thought their vision was worth investing in. Year in and year out. 

Steve Job's achievements were no accident, he was a genuine visionary and operator.  Although I've never earned an Apple paycheck, I bleed in rainbow colors, I've drunk the cool-aid, I'm a total believer.  Who else would use a logo of the forbidden fruit with a bite taken out?  Its in front of everyone's face all the time but seems rarely to get much attention. Take a minute to appreciate what a statement and positioning that is! The logo was prophetic of an ongoing revolution.  Forget Mao and his Red Book, Steve's revolution is truly ongoing!  

Thanks Steve. It's been great.  You lit the fire!

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