Steve Jobs high school picture


Happy Birthday Steve. Steve Jobs would have turned 57 today which is a reasonable enough occasion to highlight a few more of his choice embraces of failure. Written about before, but here is another particularly insightful perspective “Nobody’s better at failure than Steve Jobs” by the Boston Globe (thanks Dad) on Steve Jobs retirement…

“Jobs…has failed time and again, occasionally in spectacular fashion. He’s introduced products that bombed. He sent his companies in directions that went nowhere. And once, …Jobs’s career demonstrates how failure can be a constant companion, even for winners.’’ 

  • Apple III – “Plagued by faulty construction, and thousands were recalled. ‘When the III was going down, it looked like the end of Apple,’’ said Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet networking technology and a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.”
  • Cube – “overpriced, hard-to-upgrade Cube desktop computer”
  • ROKR – “an ill-fated partnership with Motorola Inc. to build a cellphone compatible with Apple’s iTunes music service.”


Obituaries tend to focus on all of the high points, but I know that Steve would be proud to be just as well remembered for his failures many of which sowed the seeds for his greatest triumphs…

  • Lisa – “Designed as a dream machine for advanced users, its $10,000 price frightened off customers, and few were ever sold”. But Lisa broke important ground for his ultimate icon, the Mac.
  • Sculley – Ousted as CEO. “At 30, I was out. And very publicly out,’’ Jobs said. He was kicked out of Apple itself, an event that led to one of the greatest second acts in American business. Fifteen years after he returned as chief executive, he’s lifted Apple from near-bankruptcy to a stock market value of $300 billion, second-highest of any US company.
  • NeXT – “NeXT machines were costly, and incompatible with other desktop computers. NeXT sold a grand total of 50,000 machines, and threatened to leave Jobs as a footnote in the history of digital technology. The NeXT’s incompatible operating system software was a blessing in disguise, robust and highly reliable compared to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software, or the software then used on Apple’s Mac computers. Apple executives knew the Mac badly needed an upgrade. So in 1996, they struck a deal with their ex-boss Jobs to buy NeXT for $429 million. The NeXT computer didn’t survive, but its operating system became the basis for the Mac OS X software that runs Macintosh computers today