I’ve been listening to the audio version of the Steve Jobsbiography by Walter Isaacson this week. Well, who hasn’t actually? It’s currently #1 of all books on Amazon.
As I wrote when Mr. Jobs died earlier this month, I’m a big fan of the Apple products and have been for over twenty years. In 1989, I started working for WGBH, the Boston public television station. WGBH is a Mac house. Prior to that, I had worked on PC’s and knew a little DOS, but computers were tools, not something to love. By the end of my first week at WGBH, I knew I’d never go back to using my desktop PC – which I think was called a Leading Edge and had been given to me as a kind of severance package from my job at an opera company that had closed.
As an aside, I gave my Dad that PC which brought him into the computer age and by the time he passed away nearly 3 years ago at 83, he ran all of his finances and tracked his investments on Quicken and communicated with high school and college buddies via email. I still have the last email he sent to me, which was about safety precautions for women in parking lots and elevators.
The first Mac I worked on was an SE30 that had a 20MB hard drive (can you imagine?). A single email can’t be opened on 20 megs these days! I’m only partway into the book, but have been fascinated, although not surprised, by the attention to detail Jobs paid to every single element of the design of the first Macintosh computer (around 1983). He wanted it to be friendly, simple and elegant. If you notice, it looks a little like a head, complete with chin and forehead. Never noticed before, but it did have me at hello! He was concerned with the color of the plastic (he rejected something like 200, or 2000 Pantone beiges and created his own), the softness of the corners, the ventilation openings that were also decorative. He was concerned with the packaging and rejected fifty versions before saying yes. He frustrated his team and management to no end with so much perfectionism, but he truly believed that to be “insanely great” meant every detail was perfect. He believed in art, was a fan of the Bauhaus movement and the furniture of Charles and Ray Eames. He loved simplicity, elegance and beauty, even in the parts you don’t see. As the book says
“From his father, he learned that a hallmark of passionate
craftsmanship is making sure that even the aspects that will remain hidden are