Jobs Genius Was in His Singular Focus on a Vision

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-10-06 Print this article Print


Eric Newcomer, chief architect of the investment bank at Credit Suisse, said, "The legend about Steve Jobs is that he -stole' the idea of the mouse and graphical interface [i.e., Windows] for point-and-click computing from Xerox PARC. While it's true Xerox PARC invented these things, they were developing them for a highly technical audience, and the engineering was very expensive. Steve adapted the ideas for the mass market in creating the original Mac in 1984, cutting the price while improving the usability. Once he was done, the result was very different. He understood the price points and usability thresholds of the mass market, and had the ability to adapt highly technical concept and designs for it. In effect, bringing the power of the computer to the masses."

Cameron Purdy, vice president of development at Oracle, said, "Steve's genius was in his unapologetic and singular focus on a vision that only he could realize in advance, and which the rest of the industry would inevitably and immediately adopt as their own-without attribution-as soon as he would unveil it. In a world full of charlatans and snake oil salesmen, Steve was truly larger than life, and true to his vision. His aesthetic influence has forever altered our expectation of how technology can be shaped to serve and interact with us, in spite of an industry that is perpetually fixated on altering our behavior to fit with technology."

Citing Jobs' ability to effectively channel a developer spirit and connect directly with developers, Dion Almaer, vice president of mobile architecture at and a Web development guru, pointed to his blog post around Jobs' conversation with developers at WWDC 97.

Almaer added that Jobs' pursuit of perfection made him work harder, by example, to deliver better software. He said:

In life it is so easy to take the easy path," Almaer said. "The -good enough' path. A few people strive for perfection, and he was one of them. He wanted users to have products that they could connect with and love...not just use. For that to happen he needed developers to be on the journey for him. The Apple community has his spirit in that many of them truly focus on the product. Not just the basic form and function-the full experience. The feeling of the software. For me this even shows in APIs. I have long cared about developer ergonomics and the feeling of giving other developers great APIs that they will love to use. If I think of Steve I spend the extra time and effort on those APIs. I don't take the short cuts. I care.

Theo Schlossnagle, uber DevOps geek and CEO of OmniTI, echoed Almaer's thinking, in that he says Jobs' example and success made Schlossnagle work extra hard to deliver better solutions for customers.

"Steve did two profound things for developers," Schlossnagle said. "The first is he gave us was a development platform that we never had to think about operating. The second was more visionary and profound. He showed us that building great software wasn't enough; you also had to improve the lives of the user. Software is better today because of this imbued attitude.  He had much more impact than just this, but these are the two things I will feel every day during the rest of my career."

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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