Steve Jobs' resignation as CEO of Apple has prompted many reflections on his greatest hits at the company. From the iMac to the iPhone, the company's products with Jobs at the helm have redefined personal computers and mobile technology. But he never did it alone.
Some reports are giving undue credit for Jobs' role in the development of everything from cloud computing to the Apple II. It's that latter claim with which I, as a retrocomputing enthusiast, take exception. Although Jobs definitely played a critical role in the computer's design, and veterans of the industry owe their careers to Jobs, the machine's architecture and functionality were almost solely the genius of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
It's fitting that Woz get the opportunity to share his perspective on Jobs' resignation. Unsurprisingly, Woz, an all-around nice guy, has nothing but praise for his former business partner.
In an audio interview with Bloomberg, Woz speaks about how Jobs turned Apple Inc. around upon his return in 1997 not with shrewd design sense but with stunning business acumen:
Woz confirms the disparate roles the two Steves played in 1977: "[Jobs] wanted to do things, [whereas] I was more the engineer-technologist that wanted to build things. We had different wants in the end."
This divide is more directly discussed in a video interview with CNN. Says Woz: "After Steve met me, he never tried to be the designer of the pair... He always thought in terms of products: how are they going to affect people? It's not how you connect a few chips together, it's what are they going to do that's useful. That's ... a marketing point: you have to think of the end user. And that should always be number one."
Again, Woz demonstrates his humble nature: "I don't want any credit for starting the whole personal computing revolution." Similarly, in an interview with Forbes, Woz theorizes that Jobs is "always going to be remembered, at least for the next hundred years..." Can we say the same for Woz?
Regardless of what Apple's future holds, Woz is confident in its leadership, he tells Forbes:
"I don't think the core Apple culture will change because of Jobs' leaving, not for a long time. Apple is set up. It just needs to stay financially responsible."
While Jobs was a strong, detail-oriented leader, Wozniak points out that he was always surrounded by other equally excellent leaders, nearly all of which remain in place.
But one of the company's original leaders is missing. Reuters reported that Woz, who is currently chief scientist at storage technology company Fusion-io but is still officially an Apple Inc. employee, would consider returning to Apple full-time if asked. Would he be a better successor to Steve Jobs than Tim Cook will be?
(Hat tip to Greg Nelson)