Steve Jobs: Man of The Year?

One of the very few ugly TIME covers
A 1983 Time Magazine article exposed the dark side of Steve. Michael Moritz wrote the article. He is now a Google board member who wrote 2010’s Return to the Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and the Creation of Apple. Dan - employee #12 - said to Moritz,

"Something is happening to Steve that's sad and not pretty, something related to money and power and loneliness. He's less sensitive to people's feelings. He runs over them, snowballs them".[1]

It is rumoured that Steve never talked to Dan again. Steve was earmarked to be 1984’s Time Magazine Man of The Year; but after the world saw Steve’s true colours, the accolade went to The Computer instead. As of writing, he has been named many things, but never Time's Man of The Year.

Steve was becoming more and more alone by his own beautiful design. Woz - Employee #1 - found out that Steve had ripped him off back in the days when they were kids. Steve had promised Atari to make a game called Breakout. He asked Woz to build it. Steve once said that Woz “was the only person I met who knew more about electronics than me”. Woz was quoted as saying, “Steve didn’t know very much about electronics”.[2]  Woz did such a great job that the Atari staff had difficulty replicating Woz’s genius design for the final product. Steve told Woz that he received $700 from Atari to split between them. In fact, Atari had paid Steve five thousand dollars.  Furthermore, Woz worked without sleep for four days because Steve told him four days was Atari’s deadline. In fact, it was Steve’s deadline. He wanted Woz to finish the job in four days so he could be back at the commune in time for the apple harvest. Woz was so hurt when he found out that he cried. Woz confronted Steve. Rather than admit he had cheated his friend, Steve said that he couldn't remember what happened. Two years later, Woz permanently left full-time work at Apple.

If Woz had found out earlier about Steve's grift, he might never have helped Steve create Apple so many years ago in his parents’ garage. Over two decades later in an interview with Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Woz demonstrates that to forgive is divine:

I think Steve needed money and just didn't tell me the truth. He should have known me well enough to just come out and say he needed the money. It would sound odd, me doing the entire design and him getting all the money. I would have done it. He was a friend. You help your friends. When you judge Steve as a person - the great things he brings to the world versus, maybe, these encroachments on personal decency or personal honesty with other people or disrespect of people when they've worked very hard and do a great job… those are probably outweighed by the good that he does for the world… Nobody's perfect. Everybody is going to have cases where they did something bad to somebody, said something nasty to them and maybe regret it later.[3]
Steve’s misbehaviour is thoroughly discussed in the critically acclaimed bestselling book The No A…hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't.  The author, Robert Sutton is a Stanford Professor of Management Science, praised by Business Week as one of the “B-School All Stars”.[4] Robert said to Fortune Magazine
As soon as people heard I was writing a book on a…holes, they would come up to me and start telling a Steve Jobs story. The degree to which people in Silicon Valley are afraid of Jobs is unbelievable. He made people feel terrible; he made people cry; but he was almost always right, and even when he was wrong.[5]
Meanwhile, everything looks great on the surface of Steve's life. At the Macintosh Black Tie party, he danced with an icon from his childhood, folk singer, Joan Baez. They waltzed between dinner courses to the music of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Steve was 27 and Joan was 41. She had just performed at the 25th Grammys. The song she sang was ‘Blowin’ in The Wind’, written by her old flame, Bob Dylan. Steve has every album Dylan ever recorded. When the night ended, Steve drove the fifteen-minute journey home alone in his silver roadster. His Los Gatos house was very expensive, very fashionable, and very empty. There was a mattress and some cushions on the bare floor. The only adornment was a gaudy and grandiose painting by Maxfield Parrish.[6] Maxfield’s world, like Steve’s, was full of drama, unreality, and romanticised characters .
A fatal flaw lived deep inside the more shadowed part of Steve. Two millennia ago, the Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, named this flaw “hamartia”. The trait leads to the inevitable downfall of the protagonist in a tragic drama. Steve believed that only he knew what was best for the world. He believed that he should control everything. He unwittingly passed this flaw onto the tiny closed world of his Mac.

[1] Moritz, M. (1983, January 3) The Updated Book Off Jobs. Time Magazine.

[2] Linzmayer, O.W. (2004) Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company. San Francisco: No Starch Press.

[3] Knowledge@Wharton (2008, February 20) Steve Wozniak on Apple, Steve Jobs and the Value of a Good Prank. Retrieved from

[4] Macsai, D. (2007, August 22) Powerful Profs. Business Week.

[5] Elkind, P. (2008 March 5) The Trouble With Steve Jobs. Fortune Magazine.

[6] Deutschman, A. (2000) The Second Coming of Steve Jobs. New York: Broadway


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