“I wanted to come and just have chat this morning,” says Steve Jobs, seated onstage for the closing keynote of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference back in 1997. Mr. Jobs, who officially stepped down from his post last night, had just begun his second tenure as Apple’s CEO. The company’s stock had been dipping below $20 a share for much of that year, and it was clear to Mr. Jobs that someone needed to light a fire under the developers who helped support the Apple ecosystem.
“We get to spend 45 minutes or so together and I want to talk about whatever you want to talk about,” Mr. Jobs told the crowd. Coming from a legendary CEO, known for having things his way, it was a disarmingly humble and open stance. “I have opinions on most things,” he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. “So I figured if you want to just start asking some questions, we’ll go to some good places.” It’s a turn of phrase that reminds one Mr. Jobs is in fact a Buddhist, raised in the apricot orchards of Silicon Valley.
But the first question was about OpenDoc, a piece of software Apple had just discontinued, and from there, Jobs transformed, becoming the confrontational yet charming executive whose reality distortion field drew standing ovations from developers and journalists alike. “I know some of you spent a lot time working on something that we put a bullet in the head of. I apologize. I feel your pain. But Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management, I have to say it.” Read More