Steve Jobs: Woodworker?

It might not seem appropriate to talk about Steve Jobs in a blog post supposedly dedicated to the business of woodworking. But I’m going to fall back on a technicality here, that being that the very first Apple computer was made of wood.

Well, of course, the innards were not wood but the case was and not too badly crafted either.

Paul Jobs, Steve’s adoptive father, was a machinist with a company that made lasers. He taught Steve basic electronics which obviously served him well in later life. But he also taught him something that I think was much more important: How to make things. Steve made the Apple computer literally by hand.

Apple’s success is directly attributable to Steve Jobs’ understanding of how things are made. This understanding combined with an uncompromising determination to be a hands-on CEO is why Apple is where it is today. Sure, there was a lot of delegation involved. But Jobs maintained a keen interest in every aspect of Apple, right down to the smallest detail. He worked closely with every department manager, every director, every team leader, and every outside source that the company dealt with.

We might not learn a lot about woodworking from observing Steve Jobs’ management style. But we can learn a heck of a lot about how to run a successful business.

D.D.

COMMENTS

  1. Rich Pearson wrote:

    not to quibble….but the actual was built by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs partner and co-founder of Apple. Jobs was the visionary and marketeer of the partnership and Wozniak was the technical genius who actually did the hardware.

  2. Gene Smith wrote:

    The original apple was basically a mother-board. There were several improvements that evolved into a mass produced machine, the Apple 2 with its commercial case. The Apple 2+ (my first computer) had a moulded plastic case, 48K memory, optional floppy drive that could store 256 K per disc, and an optional 80 column card to allow you to print a full page. You could max out the memory at 64K. The 2+ was a color machine. The PC was still in the development stage.

  3. Pat Megowan wrote:

    Quote from Steve Jobs:

    “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.” — Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985

  4. Lori Sallee wrote:

    LOVE your post! You can never underestimate the power of understanding how things are made – even if it was Steve Wozniak was the one who actually made it. (http://macadoodle.wordpress.com/2007/04/21/true-or-false-the-first-apple-computer-was-made-of-wood/)

  5. Chuck wrote:

    Steve Jobs was known for his blunt delivery of criticism. He may have been a visionary, but he sure didn’t have the soul of one who loves to craft in wood…

  6. Matthew D Fritz wrote:

    Someone sent me this quote from Steve Jobs which illustrates his business integrity (and ties in with woodworking and the same time):
    “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,” he said in the interview. “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.”

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