Nearing the end of my 26-letter, non-stop A-Z compendium of all things Apple
Steve Jobs didn’t seem the ostentatious sort. Indeed he lived for a long time in a house with practically no furniture, let alone a gold-lined Jacuzzi. For his last 20 years he lived modestly with his family in a simple country house in Palo Alto. Nicer than your house, yes, but not somewhere Donald Trump would feel at home.
“I have a very simple life. I have my family and I have Apple and Pixar. And I don’t do much else.”
But he did share one billionaire’s dream with pal Larry Ellison of Oracle – he was designing himself a proper rich man’s yacht. He worked on the design with French product designer Philippe Stark, who once made a mouse for Microsoft and a toilet brush – pretty much the same thing, I suppose. As would be expected of a Jobs design it will be “sleek and minimalistic” and with glass designed by the chief engineer of Apple’s retail stores. Unlike the iPhone it’s likely to be waterproof.
Apple is very much an American company. Founder Jobs didn’t wear a kilt, plus fours or lederhosen. He wore blue jeans. Apple products are made in China, but they’re all stamped with the legend “Designed in California”.
UK Mac fans would regularly moan about American-English spellings in their Apple software. Pre-OS X, the UK version of the Mac deletion folder was called “Wastebasket” but its icon was a picture of a dustbin. In the US it was called “Trash”, which was fine as Americans call a dustbin a trash can. In the UK it was stupid to call a dustbin a wastebasket, as I informed the Mac OS 9 product manager. Apple duly changed its Trash icon into that of a wastebasket for OS X, but renamed it Trash in the UK. So the UK’s trash can-like icon called Wastebasket was changed to look like a wastebasket but renamed Trash. Only an American company would do that.
While Steve wasn’t an outwardly showy type of guy (although he was for a time partial to the odd bow tie) he certainly held a high opinion of himself. He was super confident that he would be chosen as Time’s Man Of The Year for 1982, after he was trailed by Time prior to the issue’s publication.
“They FedExed me the magazine,” Jobs later told biographer Walter Isaacson, “and I remember opening the package, thoroughly expecting to see my mug on the cover, and it was this computer sculpture thing. I thought ‘Huh?’ And then I read the article, and it was so awful that I actually cried.”
Sometimes Apple’s the most vibrant tech company in the world. The next day it’s all black and white.
The one colour Apple really doesn’t like is yellow. It made an appearance in the classic rainbow Apple logo (1976-1998) but any rainbow would look rubbish without yellow. Apple’s rainbow was one colour short anyway, missing out indigo – later compensated by a fine showing in the 2001 iMac line up. But there was no yellow/banana/lemon iMac. And the iPod Socks drawer was similarly empty of yellow footwear. The current iPod nano and shuffle ranges feature a gold model but no classic yellow. Maybe it was just too close to beige for Steve’s liking.
Del Yocam has been described as the “absolute antithesis” of Steve Jobs, but got on well with him enough to be the shoulder Steve cried on when the Apple board removed his command of the Mac Group in 1985.
Post-Jobs departure Yocam was made Apple’s head of R&D, and later chief operating officer. He merged the Apple II and Macintosh divisions, stating “We are switching from being product driven to being market driven” – again, the very antithesis of Apple post-Jobs return a decade later.
According to Jobs’ biography, the most important book in Steve’s life was the Autobiography of a Yogi. Steve first read this guide to meditation and spirituality as a teenager, re-read it in India and once a year ever since.
Named one of the 100 best spiritual books of the 20th century, Paramahansa Yogananda’s remarkable life story takes the reader on an exploration of the world of saints and yogis, science and miracles, death and resurrection.
For a man, fond of sitting crosslegged, who’d once travelled through India, was sainted by Apple fans and after his passing by just about everyone except Steve Ballmer, made his life’s work performing miracles with science and technology, and almost singlehandedly resurrected his company from near death, you can see why the book appealed so much to Steve.