Steve Jobs Anecdotes

By Richard Mallion

Today marks the 1st anniversary of Steve Jobs passing away. So to mark this day here are some great Steve Job’s anecdotes from Forbes Magazine.

Hide The Porsches

Randy Adams was a software engineer who worked with Steve Jobs at NeXT and then at Apple. After Apple bought NeXT, Adams bought a Porsche 911 at the same time Jobs did. To avoid car dings they parked near each other over 3 spaces between them.

One day Jobs rushed over to Adams’ cubicle and told him they had to move the cars.

“I said, ‘Why?,’ and he said, ‘Randy, we have to hide the Porsches. Ross Perot is coming by and thinking of investing in the company, and we don’t want him to think we have a lot of money.’” They moved the cars around to the back of NeXT’s offices in Palo Alto, Calif. and Perot invested $20 million in the company in 1987 and took a seat on the board.

Bill Gates

Adams also recalls the time Bill Gates showed up at NeXT for a meeting. It was the fall of 1986. The receptionist in the downstairs lobby called Jobs, whose cube was upstairs, to let him know that Gates was in the lobby. “I could see him sitting in his cube, not really busy. But he didn’t get up or call Gates up. In fact, he left him waiting in the lobby for an hour.

Vegan

Jobs, a vegan, would pass by engineers enjoying their Subway sandwiches and comment, “Oh, the smell of burnt animal flesh. How delightful.”

Santa Claus

In 1986, Jobs dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out $100 bills to employees

Scuff Marks in the Mini-Store

In his first public appearance after revealing he had surgery to remove a tumor from his pancreas in 2004, Jobs met with a handful of reporters (including me) at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif. to unveil a new 750-square-foot “mini” store design. Half the size of the typical Apple retail stores of the time, the mini design featured an all-white ceiling, lit from behind; Japanese-made stainless-steel walls, with holes around the top for ventilation that mimicked the design of the PowerMac G5; and a shiny, seamless white floor made with “material used in aircraft hangars,” Jobs said at the time.

Before the gigantic curtain draped across the storefront came down, though, Jobs was having a meltdown, refusing in the minutes before the unveiling to step outside and greet reporters. Why? Because the store design that looked so great on paper didn’t stand up to real-world use. The walls showed off every handprint and the floors were marred by black scuff marks from the handful of people readying the store for the big reveal.

Jobs was ultimately convinced to step outside, and the curtain was drawn before the small gathering of reporters. When I saw the floor, I immediately turned to Jobs, standing next to me, and asked if he had been involved in every aspect of the design. He said yes. “It was obvious that whoever designed the store had never cleaned a floor in their life,” I told him. He narrowed his eyes at me and stepped inside.

A few months later an Apple executive told me that Jobs had all of the designers return to the store after it opened on Saturday, and spend the night on their hands and knees cleaning the white surface. After that, Apple switched the floors to the stone tiles now prevalent in its designs.

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