THE MOMENT OF REALISATION FOR STEVE JOBS
Four years after his death, Steve Jobs still influences the minds of our young and technologically-inclined with his interviews and quotes. In this article, he tells us what motivated him to pick himself up in 1985, after being kicked out his own company.
Steve Jobs is probably modern culture’s greatest technology star. He’s often pitted against Microsoft founder Bill Gates, because both men started their careers in similar ways, but took radically different paths to the top of their industries. Whereas Bill founded Microsoft and turned it into a multi-billion dollar corporation, Steve founded Apple, who was always the younger brother, the outcast, the rebel. True to form, Steve got ousted from his own company, founded another company called NeXT, and then founded Pixar which got acquired by Disney.
The question many people asked of Steve was what pushed him. After all, by 1985, when he was relegated from Apple, he was already wealthy, and his name was already established as one of the pioneers of the computer age. He could have ridden off into the sunset and he would still have had a comfortable, productive career.
So what motivated him to start NeXT?
More than anything, said Steve, it was the feeling that he was changing the world, that he was part of changing history. In 1985, he visited a school and saw that a bunch of third and fourth graders were working in a classroom full of Apple IIs. He spent a few hours there, and saw that these kids were going to have a completely different life to what he had just because of these machines that he helped design.
‘What hit me about it,’ he said, ‘was that here was this machine that very few people designed – about four in the case of the Apple II – who gave it to some other people who didn’t know how to design it but knew how to make it, to manufacture it. They could make a whole bunch of them. And then they give it some people that didn’t know how to design it or manufacture it, but they knew how to distribute it. And then they gave it to some people that didn’t knew how to design or manufacture or distribute it, but knew how to write software for it.
Gradually this sort of inverse pyramid grew. It finally got into the hands of a lot of people – and it all blossomed out of this tiny little seed.’