Steve Jobs’s Best Quotes

Steve Jobs has stepped down as CEO of Apple, the company he founded and turned into the largest technology company in the world. Although his tenure as CEO will be remembered for ushering in fundamental changes in the way people interact with technology, he has also been known for his salesmanship, his ability to turn a phrase and a knack for taking complicated ideas and making them easy to understand. Below, a compendium of some of the best Steve Jobs quotes.

On Technology

‘It takes these very simple-minded instructions─’Go fetch a number, add it to this number, put the result there, perceive if it’s greater than this other number’ but executes them at a rate of, let’s say, 1,000,000 per second. At 1,000,000 per second, the results appear to be magic.’ [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]
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‘The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t. ‘I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time.
****

Technology is not changing it much ─ if at all. ‘These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. You may have a child with a birth defect and be able to get in touch with other parents and support groups, get medical information, the latest experimental drugs. These things can profoundly influence life. I’m not downplaying that.

But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light ─ that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important.’ [Wired, February 1996]
****

‘I think it’s brought the world a lot closer together, and will continue to do that. There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything. The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television ─ but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.’ [Rolling Stone, Dec. 3, 2003]

On His Competitors

Playboy: Are you saying that the people who made PCjr don’t have that kind of pride in the product?

‘If they did, they wouldn’t have made the PCjr.’ [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]
***

‘Some people are saying that we ought to put an IBM PC on every desk in America to improve productivity. It won’t work. The special incantations you have to learn this time are the ‘slash q-zs’ and things like that. The manual for WordStar, the most popular word-processing program, is 400 pages thick. To write a novel, you have to read a novel one that reads like a mystery to most people. They’re not going to learn slash q-z any more than they’re going to learn Morse code. That is what Macintosh is all about.’ [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]
***

‘The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.’

‘I am saddened, not by Microsoft’s success ─ I have no problem with their success. They’ve earned their success, for the most part. I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products.’ [Triumph of the Nerds, 1996]
***

‘I wish him the best, I really do. I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.’ [On Bill Gates, The New York Times, Jan. 12, 1997]

On Business

‘You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me.’ [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]
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‘Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.’ [The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993]
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Q: There’s a lot of symbolism to your return. Is that going to be enough to reinvigorate the company with a sense of magic?

‘You’re missing it. This is not a one-man show. What’s reinvigorating this company is two things: One, there’s a lot of really talented people in this company who listened to the world tell them they were losers for a couple of years, and some of them were on the verge of starting to believe it themselves. But they’re not losers. What they didn’t have was a good set of coaches, a good plan. A good senior management team. But they have that now.’ [BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998]
***

‘Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.’ [Fortune, Nov. 9, 1998]
***

‘The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.’ [Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer Inc., May 1999]

On Life And One More Thing

“When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.” [Wired, February 1996]
***

“I’m an optimist in the sense that I believe humans are noble and honorable, and some of them are really smart. I have a very optimistic view of individuals. As individuals, people are inherently good. I have a somewhat more pessimistic view of people in groups. And I remain extremely concerned when I see what’s happening in our country, which is in many ways the luckiest place in the world. We don’t seem to be excited about making our country a better place for our kids.” [Wired, February 1996]
***

And One More Thing

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma ─ which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

On Predicting the Future

‘I’ll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I’ll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I’m not there, but I’ll always come back. [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]
***

‘The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it to a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people as remarkable as the telephone.’ [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]
***

‘The desktop computer industry is dead. Innovation has virtually ceased. Microsoft dominates with very little innovation. That’s over. Apple lost. The desktop market has entered the dark ages, and it’s going to be in the dark ages for the next 10 years, or certainly for the rest of this decade.

‘It’s like when IBM drove a lot of innovation out of the computer industry before the microprocessor came along. Eventually, Microsoft will crumble because of complacency, and maybe some new things will grow. But until that happens, until there’s some fundamental technology shift, it’s just over.’ [Wired, February 1996]
***

The desktop metaphor was invented because one, you were a stand-alone device, and two, you had to manage your own storage. That’s a very big thing in a desktop world. And that may go away. You may not have to manage your own storage. You may not store much before too long. [Wired, February 1996]

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