Steve Jobs remembered by Stephen Wolfram

“I met Steve Jobs nearly a quarter of a century ago when he had left Apple and was working on building his NeXT computer and I was working on building the first version of our Mathematica software system,” Stephen Wolfram writes for The Observer. “Our first meeting was classic Steve Jobs. He explained that he expected that what he was doing would change the world and, by the way, make a lot of money too. And he told me he was picking all sorts of bold new hardware and software technologies for his computer and he wanted one of them to be Mathematica. Steve took a great interest in the development of Mathematica; in fact, it was he who suggested the name.”

“One of the things I always admired about Steve Jobs was his clarity of thought,” Wolfram writes. “Time and again, he would take a complex situation, understand its essence and use that understanding to make a bold and unexpected move.”

Wolfram writes, “There was a human side to him as well. I remember visiting him once in his swanky offices in Redwood City. We were talking about technology strategy, when suddenly he apologised for being distracted. He said he was going out that night on a date with a woman he’d met the day before and suddenly all his confidence as a technologist and businessman melted away. Happily, the date worked out and the woman he met became his wife for the rest of his life.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Every time I hear or read of someone influenced by Steve Jobs helped and encourage him on a project my admiration to this man grows and makes me wonder if perhaps he felt he have not enough time to develop all his ideas.

    Long live to Steve Jobs.

    1. Definitely not enough time. In fact, I think that Steve had almost just started. He was/is not substitutable and I wonder what we will miss and never experience due to his far to early death (still gives me shiver in the spine to read or write about his death)

  2. I got more feeling of Steve as an exceptional genius from Wolfram’s few remarks in the short Observer article than from Isaacson’s book.

    Blah-blah. “He was driven.” “He acted like a jerk sometimes.” “Then he was driven some more.” “Then he went here and then over there.” “He talked to this person.” Sounded like tens of millions of driven, somewhat-jerky guys with regular lives. bOring. And the worst for me was the thread of Isaacson’s prejudice. One small example of that was calling Steve’s opinion of Gates unfair. Eventually just couldn’t read any further.

    1. actually the great reading was the 200 plus comments how it will never sell and gene Munsters positive out look, hit the price on the nail, but estimated 2,000,000 sales per year

      Expectations flared recently when Gene Munster, a technology research analyst, said that he had had discussions with an Asian component supplier that claimed to have received orders for a touchscreen device which needed to be filled by the end of the year. Munster took this as evidence that Apple would launch a tablet in early 2010.

      “He estimated that an Apple tablet, with an onscreen keyboard like the iPhone, would cost around $600 (£363), putting it between the highest-end iPod Touch at $399 and the MacBook, which starts at $999. At $600, Munster calculated that sales of 2 million tablets could add $1.2bn (£727m) to Apple’s sales next year.”

      1. Awesome, here’s some comment gems
        from Heyman -This Mac tablet sounds like a disaster unless you’re a very rich fashion victim.

        rQuick -Another overhyped, overpriced, poor functioning, die-one-day-after-warranty Apple product. I bet the competitors are developing similar products already, which will be cheaper and have more functionality & expendability. They might not look as nice as an Apple to the majority – as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – however they will easily outperform the Apple hype^H^H^H^Hproduct.
        Can’t wait for a similar Samsung device!.

        TonkaTom – A Netbook with a 10″ screen, built in 3g modem with the aerial around the screen and a SIM card slot will wipe the floor with a Tablet.

        1. “I bet the competitors are developing similar products already, which will be cheaper and have more functionality & expendability.”

          Well, he was right about one thing: they definitely are a LOT more expendible.

    1. Wolfram’s legacy, like Jobs’s, may never inlude accolades about Ghandian humility. Having been won over by both men’s startling originality and audacity, I see a need, and a general craving, for more like them–love alone may never be enough to save the world.

      1. A need for creative people? Assuredly!

        I’ve met Wolfram and remain unimpressed. Wolfram has audacity? Definitely. Brilliant? Possibly. Originality? Wolfram has done some significant work in physics and led Mathematica’s development, but he’s nowhere in the same league as Jobs. Chutzpah? Wolfram has it in spades and fancies himself a polymath and the inventor of scientific computing. His biggest innovation in Mathematica was getting a university to pay him while he developed it, and then let him own the IP and form a private company to monetize his work. Mathematica was a founded on SMP which he developed at Cal Tech after leaving MIT where he worked as part of the Macsyma team. Macsyma was started when Wolfram was 9 years old — he didn’t invent it.

        1. That’s more like it, 8^þ; Wolfram deserved more from you than a flip throw-away line. And you delivered, with color! Touché. Me, I was looking at it slant.

          Apart from any issues of priority, which are boringly present in all academic disciplines of any description, and apart from the minefield between academia and business—well, Wolfram has laid out new territory that interests me. You may not see the work on cellular automata as electrifying, but because Wolfram pushed the importance of them as a novel explanatory mechanism, and made me hear echoes of Conway, Turing, and Penrose—I’m an artist who cast her net wide, and that’s a big help.

          1. Why go for an echo when you’ve named the greats. Conway’s amazing. Crazy, but amazing. He has a gift, and another for teaching, too. Penrose, is another star. Turing was gone before I was around – he was a gentle soul that couldn’t live in the bigoted world we have.

            Cast that net wider : For mathematics and art, I’d look more to Erdös for the beauty of pure theory, to Mandelbrot for the boundary between theory and visual, and to Barnsley for the fascinating visuals of iterated function systems.

            You’re right in that I don’t see Wolfram’s work as electrifying, but that’s because he excludes (approaches) rather than synthesizes. He maintains that “automata as digital program” explains everything and posits that analytical theory is actually unnecessary. His failing is exactly his unidimensional approach. And, unlike Newton, either doesn’t recognize or doesn’t acknowledge that he’s “standing on the shoulders of giants”. It’s not so much about priority, but more of Brownoski’s contributing a chorus to the music of the spheres, celebrating those who came before making his contribution possible, and lifting those who follow.

            But I am fascinated by Jacobson’s and Damien Jones’ work with fractals.

            1. You haven’t disappointed me. Here’s to the crazy ones… You do recognize Conway’s gift for teaching, which for me transcends any classroom or authorial method. I like that even more than his theories which can only be described as constantly surprising, and after whose droll manner I suppose I (unconsciously) model my own communications. Mandelbrot of course is classic nowadays, and Barnsley’s books require a lot of work to get through, but are like a first tour of the Alps in summertime…sublime, if you’re in the mood.

              Erdös the vagabond is deep. I don’t know that I have his measure.

              I don’t disagree with your assessment of Wolfram in any way. His catalogue, and his energy in promoting awareness of his ideas, however, are scientifically and sociologically significant. That being said, I don’t mind if you hate him. ; )

      1. And since someone did know what you meant (Seamus below), I deduce that it must be an elaborate sports-related joke, or a dirty one, probably both. Never mind.

        1. He’s being pretty obscure, for sure. 🙂 It’s not sports or jokes about what Monty Python might refer to as “naughty bits”. It’s chemistry. Wolfram is an another name for Tungsten, seen in its chemical symbol — W — and in the German.

          1. Why didn’t I see that? Wunderbar! Thank you for enlightening me. So, it’s not a locker room, after all…it’s a convention of chemical engineering geeks! Thanks!

  3. Bill Thompson, a technology author and blogger, warned, however, that Apple’s run of dramatic breakthroughs was unlikely to last for ever. “If Steve Jobs stands up and announces this, it could be his last hurrah. The technology industry has matured and, unless Apple does something completely unexpected, we have a pretty good idea what this will look like. The world has been shaped by technology in such a way that it is no longer surprising.”

    Hahaha!! Now this guy is a real doush bag lOl

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