“…get your gadget-lovin’ ass to the back of the line…”
Mondo Media brings back Steve Jobs as a hologram rapper in Steve Jobs: Back of the Line, a parody rap song and animated music video where he introduces the iPad Mini. Last time we saw this hologram version of Steve Jobs he wasintroducing the iPhone 5. Back of the Line was written by Andy Ochiltree and Aaron Simpson and features music produced by dance pop artist Markaholic.
Elusive Italian artist known only as Dito Von Tease has embarked on a project called Ditology that features eerily familiar portraits of celebrities on the ordinary human finger. The faces produced on each solo finger range from the well-known public personality (Steve Jobs) and political figure (Che Guevara) to the fictional icon (Mr. T) and religious guru (Dalai Lama). There is no person that is off limits in this lighthearted, comical series. Every “person” in the presented portraits is intricately adorned, costumed, and given an appropriate backdrop.
In addition to the ongoing project’s humorous nature, the artist behind the work adds another level of playfulness through his entirely appropriate chosen name “Dito” that translates as “finger” in Italian, which would also mean that Ditology translates as Fingerology. What’s perhaps most ironic in all of this is that we often use fingerprints to identify people, yet Dito Von Tease has managed to retain some anonymity by only exposing his fingerprints.
The Center for Design Innovation shared the tape of a rare speech recently that I thought was a fascinating snapshot of the transitional period from mainframe to personal computing. Jobs is typically charismatic in the speech, begging the attending designers to help Apple make computers that actually look good.
“By 1986, we’re going to ship more computers that automobiles in this country,” Jobs said, adding that 3 million would be sold in 1983 alone.
“One of the reasons I’m here is that I need your help,” says Jobs. “If you look at computers, they look like garbage. All the great product designers are off designing automobiles or off designing buildings. But, hardly any of them are designing computers.”
“We’re going to sell those 3 million computers whether they look like a piece of shit, or they look great,” he goes on. “It doesn’t really matter because people are going to suck this stuff up no matter what they look like. And it doesn’t really cost any more money to make them look great.”
Jobs stresses that computers are going to be this ‘new object’ that are going to be in our work and home environments. “And we have a shot to put a great object there…and if we don’t, we’re going to put another piece of junk object there.”
He also touches on the iPhone computing revolution, saying that “one of these days, when you have portable computers with radios stuck in them, you’ll be walking around Aspen and [retrieve your messages].”
He also talked about an MIT experiment that would eventually become Google’s StreetView feature:
MIT came out to Aspen 4 or 5 years ago…with a truck with a scanner on it, and they went down every single street and every single intersection…and photographed all of the buildings. And got this computer and a video disc and hooked them up together. And on the video screen, you see yourself looking down the street. And you touch the screen and there are arrows on the screen “walk forward” and it’s just like walking down the street…it’s an electronic map.
Jobs goes on to disect and decimate the design paradigms of the day and describe how they could be adapted to computers It’s a great listen.
Apple, of course, went on to build some of the best looking computers of all time. The whole speech is well worth listening to, and there’s more insight on the CDI blog including a full video recording of a presentation to the CDI that includes a Tedx talk by Ryan Chin and discussion of the tape.
This story appears in the Aug. 20, 2012 edition of Forbes magazine.
While there have been many stories criticizing Apple for exporting thousands of manufacturing jobs to China, some say Apple isn’t getting the credit it deserves for keeping innovation in the U.S.
The proposed new Apple Campus 2 is a giant, four-story circle that will house up to 13,000 employees in Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, Calif.
Steve Jobs, in the last months of his life, took time to attend a city council meeting in Apple Inc.’s hometown of Cupertino, Calif. and pitch a new 175-acre campus. Apple’s former CEO talked confidently about his plans for the 2.8-million-square-foot building, wowing the crowd with design details of what will be a giant circle with a courtyard in the middle when it’s completed in 2015.
“It’s a little like a spaceship landed,” Jobs said in his last public appearance, a20-minute presentation in June 2011 preserved on YouTube. “There’s not a straight piece of glass on this building. It’s all curved.”
More important, Jobs talked about how Apple Campus 2—dubbed “the mothership” by company watchers—will house 12,000 to 13,000 employees, many now scattered in several nearby buildings in this upscale suburb in Silicon Valley. “We’ve come up with a design that puts 12,000 people in one building,” he said. “Think about that.”
Yes, think about it. Jobs’ insistence on having his teams in one place isn’t surprising. He was a big advocate of face-to-face meetings. When it came time for new digs at Pixar, the animation studio he bought in 1986, Jobs wanted a huge building around a central atrium to encourage people to bump into one another. Each Monday morning at Apple, CEO Tim Cook meets with the other nine members of the executive team, just as Jobs did before him, to review the business, look at how existing products are faring, discuss every new product under development and talk over issues affecting the company. “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions,” Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson. “You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say, ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
What’s odd about the mothership is how outside the norm it is. Apple’s high-tech rivals, including Google, Microsoft, Intel, Adobe Systems and Hewlett-Packard, are proud to say they have engineers working in research sites around the world. Apple, in contrast, has kept almost all its technical, creative and marketing leaders in the U.S., working side by side in Cupertino. All of the product teams responsible for the iPad, iPhone and Mac are here. All the software, including the iOS mobile operating system and the Mac OS, is written here.
Even though there are a few pockets of Apple engineers in offices outside California—Pittsburgh, Seattle, a team in Israel—Cupertino is the focal point. “If a decision needs to be made,” says a former employee, “then the person making it is in Cupertino.”
Former employees, analysts and economists argue that this is a key reason that Apple, unlike many of its competitors, has been able to create products and services that work so well together. (Apple declined to comment directly on the story.) “Decision making can be faster, management can be more involved, and you get better-integrated products,” says another former Apple executive. “The new campus goes right to that point.”
Another result is a remarkably efficient process. Apple’s R&D spending is a mere 2% of sales. Compare that to Google’s R&D spending, which is 13.6% of revenue, or Microsoft’s, at 13%.
While there have been plenty of stories criticizing Apple for exporting thousands of manufacturing jobs to China, some say Apple isn’t getting the credit it deserves for keeping innovation in the U.S., which translates into a bump in jobs in the local economy.
In a company-funded study in March, Apple claimed credit for creating or supporting more than 500,000 U.S. jobs. That includes 47,000 U.S. Apple employees (out of a global staff of 70,000), with 13,000 engineering jobs in Cupertino, 27,350 retail workers and a large support team in Austin, Tex. It also counted 210,000 jobs created by companies developing iOS products for the iPhone and iPad. There are another 257,000 jobs at nine suppliers in the U.S. working on its behalf, including Corning, Texas Instruments, Samsung, Fairchild Semiconductor and RF Micro Devices—as well as the drivers at UPS and FedEx who deliver Apple products to customers.
Here’s an update for all the collectors of vintage Apple Computer-wares out there. If you’ll recall, it was a few weeks back when Sotheby’s announced it would auction off an Apple 1 motherboard, cassette interface and its BASIC programming manual, originally set to fetch upwards of $180,000. Just this week, the hand-built piece of computing history from 1979 was sold to one lucky phone bidder for an even more massive $374,500. As Apple Insider notes, the computer is one of six that’s accounted for out of 50 that are likely still out there — ensuring these will only remain for folks with deep pockets indeed. Past that, a hand-written note from Steve Jobs during his time at Atari was also on the auction block, garnering $27,500 even though it was only estimated to sell for less than half that price. Knowing the cost of collecting a premiere piece (arguably) from the fruits of Woz and Jobs, it certainly makes that new MacBook Pro with Retina display seem like a grand bargain in comparison. Details at the links below.
Steve Jobs thought someone might kidnap his daughter in order to blackmail him, according to a newly released Department of Defense document that was filled out in the 1980s when Jobs underwent a background check for a Top Secret security clearance.
That revelation, along with some new details on Jobs’ drug use and a previously unreported arrest as a minor, comes from a questionnaire that Jobs filled out for the clearance investigation, which was acquired by Wired through a Freedom of Information Act request.
While being interviewed by investigators for the clearance in 1988, Jobs was asked in what ways he might be susceptible to blackmail. He replied that he had an illegitimate daughter and felt that “the type of blackmail or threat that could be made against me would be if someone kidnapped [her].” But he added that if he were blackmailed, it would “primarily be for the purpose of money, not because I may have access to classified Top Secret material or documents.”
“[I]f I do receive my clearance,” he said, “there can be a possibility of blackmail and I do acknowledge this fact.”
An unidentified woman who was also interviewed by investigators to provide a character reference for Jobs, took a contrary view on the blackmail question. She indicated that because Jobs was a public person whose “dirty laundry” was already publicly aired, she thought he would not be susceptible to blackmail.
The statements, along with notes made by the investigators who conducted the clearance probe, expand a bit on information that was already revealed in Jobs’ FBI file, which the Bureau released last February in response to a FOIA request filed by Wired and other media outlets. Some of the information also appeared in writer Walter Isaacson’s extensive biography of Jobs that was published shortly after his Oct. 5, 2011 death.
The new DoD documents reveal that Jobs was arrested briefly in 1975 over a minor infraction, which has not been reported before. The topic came up after investigators learned that the tech titan had failed to disclose the incident in his security clearance questionnaire.
When asked about it, Jobs wrote in a statement that he did not mention the arrest in the Personnel Security Questionnaire, or PSQ, because he didn’t consider it an “actual arrest.”
The arrest was over failure to pay for a speeding ticket.
Jobs said the arrest occurred in Eugene, Oregon, more than a decade earlier when he was being questioned by police for suspicion of possessing alcohol as a minor. The police discovered there was an outstanding arrest warrant for the unpaid ticket and apparently executed it on the spot. Jobs said he then paid the speeding fine, which was about $50, and that was the end of the matter. But he didn’t consider it a real arrest that needed to be reported.
“I had no intentions of falsifying my PSQ for not listing this incident and did not think of the above incident at the time of answering the PSQ,” he wrote in a statement.
“The challenge was not that I could make long distance phone calls for free, but to be able to put a device together that could accomplish that task,” he said in his statement. “I did not make a profit from what I considered this to really be a ‘project.’ At the age of approximately fourteen, it was a technical challenge, not a challenge to be able to break the law.”
He also provided additional details about his drug use. It’s been previously reported that Jobs took LSD, marijuana and hashish in his early years, but he expanded on this a bit to the Pentagon. In his signed statement for the security clearance, Jobs said:
“I used LSD from approximately 1972 to 1974. Throughout that period of time I used the LSD approximately ten to fifteen times. I would ingest the LSD on a sugar cube or in a hard form of gelatin. I would usually take the LSD when I was by myself. I have no words to explain the effect the LSD had on me, although, I can say it was a positive life changing experience for me and I am glad I went through that experience.”
There’s a handwritten addition on the form that has Jobs’ initials next to it, which reads “This was the reason I used LSD.”
He said that he had smoked marijuana with friends or eaten it cooked in brownies, but that the last time he had used the drug was in 1977.
“The best way I would describe the effect of the marijuana and the hashish is that it would make me relaxed and creative,” he told investigators.
On a form asking him to describe his use of alcohol, Jobs, or one of the investigators, wrote “NA.”
Jobs’ mercurial temperament has long been part of his lore, and he’s never tried to deny that he has anger issues. But in the statements he gave the DoD in 1988, although he admitted that he had lost his temper in the past “when things are not going right,” he said he had put this bad behavior behind him. He attributed his angry outbursts to perfectionism, and said he now had his emotions under control.
Jobs told the investigators he considered himself an emotionally and mentally stable person, but admitted to previous bouts of depression. Though he had never received medical treatment or counseling for any mental disorder, he said he had once attended a two-month course at the Oregon Feeling Center.
“This course primarily delt [sic] with getting in touch with your feelings and understanding your feelings,” he said. A sentence in the written statement says the course was titled “Primal Scream,” but this was later crossed out in the document. Jobs’ initials appear next to the crossed-out text.
According to one unidentified woman interviewed for the clearance, Jobs was inclined toward “spiritual sole-searching” [sic] through meditation that he did at home.
The documents also detail Jobs’ travel over the years, including a visit he made to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1985 in an effort to market Apple products there. The trip was facilitated by an international lawyer who was based in Paris and later met Jobs and one of his Apple colleagues in the Soviet Union. Jobs told investigators that he had a “feeling” the attorney who accompanied them “worked for the CIA or the KGB,” though he offered no explanation for this. During the trip, which lasted two days, Jobs and his Apple colleague met with a professor from the Academy of Science, whose name is redacted in the document, “to discuss possible marketing of AC’s product.”
The fact that Jobs had a Top Secret security clearance was mentioned briefly in the FBI file on Jobs that was released earlier this year.
The FBI file primarily contained details from a different background check on Jobs that was done for his appointment in 1991 to the president’s Export Council, under former President George H. W. Bush. But the file also noted that Jobs had held a Top Secret government security clearance while working at Pixar. The file didn’t provide other details, however.
The DoD documents released to Wired don’t indicate why Jobs was being given a Top Secret security clearance, but according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, the Pixar clearance was required because of contracts Pixar signed with intelligence agencies to use its Pixar Image Computer for rendering information from reconnaissance flights and satellites.
The security clearance was conducted in 1988 while Jobs was chairman of the board at NeXT, which he had founded in 1985 after parting ways with Apple, and while he was still owner of Pixar. Jobs had purchased Pixar, when it was known as Graphics Group, from LucasFilm in 1986.
In the DoD documents, a note from investigators indicate that they tried to obtain Jobs’ employment records from NeXT going back to September 1985, but the company’s human resources manager told them that because Jobs was founder and chairman of the board of NeXT, “there are no records kept” on him. Investigators didn’t fare much better at Apple. A note says all they got from Jobs’ personnel file there was his name, address, date of birth and Social Security number.
I miss Steve Jobs. The tech world is so boring. So beige. Things haven’t been the same without his show-and-tells, him slamming people left and right, or his email replies in the middle of the night.
Apple hasn’t been the same either. And, wherever he is, Jobs probably doesn’t like some of the things that have been happening or are about to happen in Cupertino. Here are the 10 things that would have probably made him shout his classic “this is shit!”
According to his authorized biography, Jobs really never tried Siri. He was handed the iPhone 4S at the last board meeting he attended, just before he resigned. According to Walter Isaacson, he appeared puzzled and less than impressed after playing with it briefly. Not surprising. Siri was and is a beta product. And a broken one at that. Apple treats Siri as the main reason to buy the iPhone 4S, even though it’s really a gimmick that people rarely use. Had he known its problems, it’s hard to imagine that he would have approved its release in a final product.
2. 16:9 4-inch iPhone screen
If this rumor is true, the ghost of Jobs wouldn’t be happy. He really hated the idea of a 16:9 screen for both the iPhone and the iPad. He mentioned it publicly and in his biography. He believed Apple already had the perfect format. According to his own words, the company worked for years on finding just the right ratio, and they found that 3.5 inches was theoptimal and most comfortable size. The one and only size. He even joked that 4-inch Android phones looked like skateboards.
3. Supply execs and managers in engineering meetings
According to Apple engineers, things are changing inside the company: there is a “growing presence of project managers and supply chain execs” within the company. They are present in every important meeting, which didn’t happen when Jobs was at the helm. He would have never allowed these external executives to interfere with the genius of his engineers and designers. Jobs believed that the creation of Apple products had to be free of any compromise.
4. Negotiating with Google-puppet Samsung
Jobs vowed to stop Android no matter what. For him there was no room to negotiate: Android phones were shit facsimiles of Apple products. He repeatedly said that Apple put a lot of effort in creating the iPhone, patented the hell out of it, and was going to defend it with all its arsenal. He believed that Eric Schmidt betrayed him and Apple, and he didn’t want their money or a settlement of any kind. He just wanted them to stop using Apple’s ideas in Android. He would have never sit down to negotiate with who he thought were thieves.
5. That shitty Apple TV user interface
Jobs hated the current Apple TV user interface. According to an Apple engineer, he rejected it five years ago. And when he rejected something, it’s because he really hated it. But someone at Apple thought it would be good to put it back in the Apple TV now that he’s gone. He’s probably thinking “those cheating clowns! this is bullshit!” every time someone cranks up the set top box with his company’s logo on it.
6. Making products with worse specs
That new iPad’s thickness is 0.37 inches and weighs 1.44 pounds, compared to the 0.34 inches and 1.34 pounds of the iPad 2. All while the battery life has decreased to 9 hours vs 10 hours using it. These differences are not dramatic, but they are a step back in Apple’s star product. They represent compromise, and compromise is for b-players, something that Jobs hated. He constantly pushed engineers and suppliers to get the product he wanted.
7. Supporting charities
This was a huge no-no for Steve Jobs, who repeatedly denied giving charities anything. The only time Apple teamed up with anyone during his tenure was with Red, the non-profit AIDS-fighting organization supported by U2’s Bono. Jobs wasn’t convinced about it, but he went along with it because it was a marketing win for Apple to get U2 to support the iPod. But now Apple is actively giving to charities without asking for anything in return. $50 million so far. Cook is even giving Red space on Apple’s home page with no product marketing tie-in, something that Apple’s have only done when a major catastrophe—like the Haitian earthquake or the Japanese tsunami—hit. That’s not saying charity is bad! Just that Jobs never approved of it.
8. Giving stock dividends
This was another no-no for Steve Jobs. Obsessed by Apple’s near-death experience when he returned to the company, Jobs hated the idea of giving a single cent to Apple’s shareholders. Every analyst and investment company knew this. He wanted his war chest to keep increasing, to invest back in the company and to have at the ready to make strategic acquisitions. That’s why Apple never gave dividends, even while they were able to do so for a long time now.
9. Company leaks, like the ones with Apple TV and Foxconn
Nobody would have dared to talk about a future product when Jobs was alive. Nobody. Much less the CEO of its biggest supplier. Although it was later denied, this is what happened with Foxconn’s boss and the Apple TV set. I’m sure Steve would send undead ninjas to kill this guy if he could.
10. User interface details
This skeuomorphism thing is getting out of control. And there are a thousand little details that Apple is now fucking up in their user interfaces. Something that Jobs would have never allowed, with his obsessive attention to detail. When he was alive and in full strength, Jobs reportedly went through even the most minute details of every product.
Sotheby’s is auctioning off a little piece of Apple history: an engineering memo penned by an unbearable teenage Steve Jobs before Apple even existed—the earliest knowndocument the man produced.
The note, stamped with Jobs’ home address and a Buddhist mantra—”gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi svahdl”—dates back to his tenure at Atari, where we know he was hated by his coworkers for his disregard for bathing and tendency to constantly insult everyone around him. The year was 1974, and Jobs was relegated to a night shift so that nobody would have to hear or smell him. But the letter, regarding a minute change to a football arcade game, is still kind of amazing: the product of a brain that hadn’t yet turned into the tyrant-genius-prophet-bastard Jobs has been beatified as today. Jobs hadn’t thought of Apple, but he was only a couple years away from the start of a change in the world. If you’ve got ten grand or so to make an early bid, have at it—though it’ll probably take a hell of a lot more than that to take the thing home. It’s not a terribly interesting piece of writing, but as far as artifacts go, there’s something magical about a mundane handwritten thing—think of this as Picasso scribbling a reminder to himself to buy new paint.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is a less scary manager than his predecessor, Steve Jobs, but Cook’s reign is marked by a more corporate and relaxed direction. Some worry that may not bode well for the company, according to a new profile in Fortune.
The article, penned by longtime Apple chronicler Adam Lashinsky, paints a portrait of Cook as a more investor-friendly, corporate-minded and hands-off type of manager than his predecessor. In particular, Cook is singled out for his willingness to chat with financial analysts and for his tolerance for Siri, an imperfect product that has rankled some. “People are embarrassed by Siri,” one former insider told Fortune. “Steve would have lost his mind over Siri.”
Among other revelations in the article:
- Cook told analysts that Amazon is “a different kind of competitor” with “different strengths” from Apple. He also said the company “will sell a lot” of Kindles.
- David Eiswert, a portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price, notes that Apple suppliers Pegatron and Jabil have been buying “sophisticated machine tools” and that Japanese drill-bit manufacturers say the companies are moving into consumer electronics, which Eiswert assumes is on Apple’s behalf.
- Cook is putting more emphasis on “conservative execution” rather than “pushing-the-envelope engineering,” according to Max Paley, a former engineering vice president who worked at Apple for 14 years until late 2011. “I’ve been told that any meeting of significance is now always populated by project management and global-supply management,” Pale told Fortune. “When I was there, engineering decided what we wanted, and it was the job of product management and supply management to go get it. It shows a shift in priority.”
- The company’s atmosphere may be changing. In one anecdote, an ex-Apple worker, now at a Silicon Valley startup, was surprised to hear his buddy, a current Apple worker, taking a more relaxed attitude. “I think people are breathing now,” the ex-employee said. As the article notes, “It’s not necessarily a compliment.”
- Steve Jobs “basically ran mergers and acquisitions” for Apple, but now Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs banker, has three corporate development specialists under him a staff supporting them, so “Apple can work on three deals simultaneously.”
- Apple has hired more MBAs. Lashinsky notes that 2,153 Apple employees reference the term “MBA” in their LinkedIn profiles out of a workforce (excluding Apple Stores) of nearly 28,000. He notes that “more than half the employees who reference ‘MBA’ have been at Apple less than two years.”
- The mood at a mid-April meeting of the “Top 100″ execs at Apple in Carmel Valley Ranch was “upbeat and even fun.” Cook in particular “was said to be in a jovial, joke-cracking mood — a stark contrast to the grim and fearful tone Jobs engendered at the meetings.” Though the article doesn’t reveal what was discussed at the meeting — Lashinksy speculates that there was talk of an Apple TV and the new iPhone — one veteran exec was “blown away” by what he had seen.
Overall, Cook is presented as an exec who toes the line between carrying on Jobs’s tradition and forging his own path. So far, Cook’s biggest impact may be in his personal style. As the article notes:
“Most Apple employees seem more than satisfied with Cook. He often sits down randomly with employees in the cafeteria at lunchtime, whereas Jobs typically dined with design chief Jonathan Ive. It is a small difference that speaks volumes about how employees can expect to interact with their CEO.”