I am being inundated with wild claims of fans of Steve Jobs about how wonderful he was. The facts are a different patchwork:
- He invented the PC – Nope. Not even close. I still have a working PC from 1980. The Macintosh did not emerge until 1984.
- He invented the GUI – Nope. Not even close. He got the idea from Xerox who got it from … I was using crude GUIs in the 1970s and they were old then.
- He inspires inventors – Nope. Many inventive people don’t even bother because some bully like Apple will sue them for inventing something.
- He was a great businessman – Nope. The best that could be said was that he learned from his mistakes. He eventually learned to delegate which is why Apple’s share price has not tanked upon his death. He made huge blunders in the early days of Apple: trying to do everything in-house, building stuff like tanks full of heat sources and hot air, and delaying release to market by years. It was only after his “second coming” that he showed that he actually learned from his mistakes by making small computers.
- He was a wonderful human being – Nope. He stole from his buddy, Steve Wozniak, he was a temperamental bully, and a deadbeat dad who lied about paternity.
UPDATE I have been criticized for writing ill of the dead but I am not alone. Marcel Gagne writes, “I believe in having the ability to choose what I want to run and how I want to run it. I believe in being able to select what to run on my computers. I believe in open standards and a level playing field for business large and small. I believe that vendor lock-in hurts consumers and stifles innovation. I don’t believe in restrictive and highly questionable software patents (see ‘stifling innovation). I don’t believe in restricting individual freedoms with digital rights management in regards to fair use (e.g. making backups, putting my media on more than one device, etc). I don’t believe in borrowing ideas from others and then turning around and suing them as part of how I run my business.
Steve Jobs was a great man who did what few ever manage to do in a lifetime. He changed the world. In many ways for the better. But not always. ”
UPDATE Another article gives deeper insight.
- Censorship and Authoritarianism – “Jobs never seemed comfortable with the idea of fully empowered workers or a truly free press. Inside Apple, there is a culture of fear and control around communication; Apple’s “Worldwide Loyalty Team” specializes in hunting down leakers, confiscating mobile phones and searching computers.”
- Sweatshops, Child Labor and Human Rights – “Apple’s factories in China have regularly employed young teenagers and people below the legal work age of 16, made people work grueling hours, and have tried to cover all this up. That’s according to Apple’s own 2010 report about its factories in China. In 2011, Apple reported that its child labor problem had worsened.”
- In Person and At Home – “Jobs regularly belittled people, swore at them, and pressured them until they reached their breaking point. In the pursuit of greatness he cast aside politeness and empathy. His verbal abuse never stopped.”