A-Z of 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, of course, but not somewhere Donald Trump would feel at home.
Steve might have been friends with Oracle boss Larry Ellison but he didn’t have a jet-setting luxury life – even if he did have use of Apple’s luxury private jet.
"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 Ellison – he was designing himself a yacht. Not a sail boat, dingy or speedboat, but 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. And as would be expected of a Jobs design it will, when finished, be “sleek and minimalistic” and with glass designed by the chief engineer of Apple’s retail stores. Almost certainly it won’t have an on-off switch.
Apple is very much an American company. Founder Steve Jobs didn’t wear a kilt, plus fours or lederhosen. He wore blue jeans. Apple products might be 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-Mac OS X the UK version of the Mac OS 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 trashcan. In the UK it seemed stupid to call a dustbin a wastebasket, as I once 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 trashcan-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’d been trailed by Time writer Michael Moritz 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 [about him], and it was so awful that I actually cried."
Apple has had an on/off love affair with colour. Sometimes it’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.
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.
It’s a tough gig being called Del at Apple but Apple’s most famous Del worked at the company before Michael Dell had even started his own.
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 onto when the Apple board removed his command of the Macintosh Group in April 1985.
Post-Jobs departure Yocam was made Apple’s Head of R&D, factories and distribution, and later Chief Operating Officer. He merged his old Apple II and Steve's Macintosh divisions, stating “We are switching from being product driven to being market driven” – again, the antithesis of Apple post-Jobs return a decade later.
According to the Jobs biography the most important book in Steve’s life was the Autobiography of a Yogi. It was apparently the only book Steve had on his iPad.
"One book in particular stayed with Jobs his entire life...Autobiography of a Yogi, the guide to meditation and spirituality that he had first read as a teenager, then re-read in India and had read once a year ever since,” wrote Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson.
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 cross-legged, who’d once travelled through India, was sainted by Mac 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 single-handedly resurrected his company from near death, you can see why the book appealed to Steve.
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