Steve Jobs Quotations

Steven Paul Jobs / 1955–2011 / California, USA / Entrepreneur, C0-Founder of Apple Computer, Inc.

Apple and Macintosh

We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make “me too” products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream.

“Steve Jobs Unveiling the Macintosh,” January 24, 1984; available on HistoryvsHollywood, YouTube.

. . . Bell filed the patents for the telephone. It performed basically the same function as the telegraph, but people already knew how to use it. Also, the neatest thing about it was that besides allowing you to communicate with just words, it allowed you to sing. . . . It allowed you to intone your words with meaning beyond the simple linguistics. And we’re in the same situation today. 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 “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. It’s the first “telephone” of our industry. And, besides that, the neatest thing about it, to me, is that the Macintosh lets you sing the way the telephone did. You don’t simply communicate words, you have special print styles and the ability to draw and add pictures to express yourself.

Interview with Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Playboy magazine, February, 1985.

My opinion is that the only two computer companies that are software-driven are Apple and NeXT, and I wonder about Apple.

Cited in Fortune, August 26, 1991.

John Sculley ruined Apple and he ruined it by bringing a set of values to the top of Apple which were corrupt and corrupted some of the top people who were there, drove out some of the ones who were not corruptible, and brought in more corrupt ones and paid themselves collectively tens of millions of dollars and cared more about their own glory and wealth than they did about what built Apple in the first place — which was making great computers for people to use.

Interview, “Advice for Future Entrepreneurs,” Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Program Oral History, April 20, 1995.

Business Philosophy

Real artists ship.

Cited in Frank Rose, West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer (1989).

If, for some reason, we make some big mistake and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter a computer Dark Ages for about twenty years.

Cited in Jeffrey S. Young, Steve Jobs: The Journey is the Reward (1988).

You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.

Interview, “The Entrepreneur of the Decade Award,” Inc. Magazine, 1 April 1, 1989.

It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing.

Interview with Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Playboy magazine, February, 1985.

[A computer is] actually pretty simple. . . . It takes these very, 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. . . Most people have no concept of how an automatic transmission works, yet they know how to drive a car. You don’t have to study physics to understand the laws of motion to drive a car. You don’t have to understand any of this stuff to use Macintosh.

Interview with Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Playboy magazine, February, 1985.

How come the Mac group produced Mac and the people at IBM produced the PCjr? We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

Interview with Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Playboy magazine, February, 1985.

I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

Interview, “Advice for Future Entrepreneurs,” Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Program Oral History, April 20, 1995.

We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

Cited in “Triumph of the Nerds,” PBS, 1996.

You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.

World Wide Developers Conference, May, 1997.

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.

Cited in Fortune, November 9, 1998.

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

Brian Williams, “Jobs: Iconoclast and salesman,” MSNBC, May 25, 2006.


What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.

Cited in Michael Lawrence, “Memory and Imagination: New Pathways to the Library of Congress, YouTube, 1991.

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.

Interview with Gary Wolf, “Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing,” WIRED magazine, February, 1996.

The world’s clearly a better place. Individuals can now do things that only large groups of people with lots of money could do before.

Interview with Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, June 16, 1994.

We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.

Interview, Macworld magazine, February, 2004.


Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Interview with Gary Wolf, “Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing,” WIRED magazine, February, 1996.

Human minds settle into fixed ways of looking at the world. That’s always been true and it’s probably always going to be true and I think… I’ve always felt that death is the greatest invention of life. I’m sure that life evolved without death at first, and found that without death life didn’t work very well. Because it didn’t make room for the young, who didn’t know how the world was fifty years ago, who didn’t know how the world was twenty years ago. Who saw it as it is today without any preconceptions, and saw and dreamed how it could be based on that. . . . Without death there would be very little progress.

Interview with Daniel Morrow, Computer World, April, 1995.


Sometimes I believe in God, sometimes I don’t. I think it’s 50-50 maybe.

Reported in Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (2011).

Jobs on Jobs

I feel like somebody just punched me in the stomach and knocked all my wind out. I’m only 30 years old and I want to have a chance to continue creating things. I know I’ve got at least one more great computer in me. And Apple is not going to give me a chance to do that.

Cited in Playboy magazine, September, 1987; regarding Jobs’s expulsion from Apple.

Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?

Cited in John Sculley and John A. Byrne, Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future (1987); regarding Sculley’s leaving Pepsi to join Apple.

It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.

Cited in John Sculley and John A. Byrne, Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future (1987).

Woz and I very much liked Bob Dylan’s poetry, and we spent a lot of time thinking about a lot of that stuff. This was California. You could get LSD fresh made from Stanford. You could sleep on the beach at night with your girlfriend. California has a sense of experimentation and a sense of openness—openness to new possibilities.

Interview with Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Playboy magazine, February, 1985.

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.

Cited in The Wall Street Journal, 1993.

I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.

Cited in “The Classroom of the Future,” Newsweek, October 29, 2001.

We used to dream about this stuff. Now we get to build it. It’s pretty great.

Steve Jobs, Keynote Address, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, June, 2004.

I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year. . . . It’s very character-building.

Reported by Owen W. Linzmayer, Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company (2004).

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

Steve Jobs, Commencement Address, Stanford University, June 12, 2005.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Steve Jobs, Commencement Address, Stanford University, June 12, 2005.


We believe it’s the biggest advance in animation since Walt Disney started it all with the release of Snow White 50 years ago.

Cited in Fortune, September 18, 1995; regarding Toy Story (1995).

If I knew in 1986 how much it was going to cost to keep Pixar going, I doubt if I would have bought the company.

Cited in Fortune, September 18, 1995.


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.

Interview with Gary Wolf, “Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing,” WIRED magazine, February, 1996.