How did Steve Jobs thrive in a technical field with a non-technical background?

“I was always very impressed with Steve’s technical knowledge and ability to understand technical issues,” Brett Bilbrey writes for Quora. “A good example of this was when my team created the built-in iSight camera.”

“We had to replace the external iSight camera that was a CCD imager, with an internal CMOS imager. We had created a prototype iMac, with the new CMOS imager, and had it sitting next to a system with the old external CCD iSight,” Bilbrey writes. “It was an A/B comparison, and we had it set up in the Executive board room where Steve could come look at it when he had time.”

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
“When it came time for Steve to compare the quality of our prototype to the existing external iSight, Steve started asking me very detailed and specific technical questions,” Bilbrey writes. “I had the answers, but he kept digging deeper and deeper, till he asked about the difference between the light well gathering characteristics of CCD vs. CMOS.”

“This was not the type of questions you expect from the CEO of a large company. And Steve had his hand in EVERYTHING at Apple from marketing, to engineering,” Bilbrey writes. “I consider myself a nerd savant (a title given to me by a friend), but Steve could surprise you with his depth of technical knowledge.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: People throw around terms like “genius” and “visionary” willy-nilly, but they actually applied to Steve Jobs.


  1. It’s called, ‘being human’, something modern autistic Silicon Valley hucksters can neither relate to nor care about. Study strategies all you like, you’ll never get it.

  2. Here’s a question – what non-technical 12 year calls the CEO of a Fortune 100 computer maker to request parts for a “frequency counter” and actually gets through and gets the help of the CEO?

    To say Steve Jobs had a non-technical background when he spent his entire life from about 10 on working on and building technical devices is just stupid. Jobs was not a pure engineer but he had very deep technical understanding. Probably far more than most engineers.

    1. True…
      The hands-on experience or training is far better than the academic education if s/he works in a very specific trade. It also horns the “instinct” in the engineering judgment and the ability to see what “should” happen in the future.
      The very reason why Jobs got into this trade is his intense interest in it, which is also a necessary ingredient for the success.

      1. “The hands-on experience or training is far better than the academic education if s/he works in a very specific trade.”

        I work in a school system.

        You are 1000% correct!

        Without the real world people like myself who brought real world experience to the classroom, we would be much worse off than we are.

        It will take 20-30 years to repair the damage caused by the last 20-30 years.

        Some will disagree with me.

        Do I care?

      2. horns➝hones
        I am using a new 2018 Mac Mini without the proper migration from any other computer yet. Allow me to blame the autocorrect. I am reviewing and resetting it. At least that’s my excuse for the recent basic errors of mis-spelling😩

  3. I spent 8 years at Apple, several working with and around Steve. My first experience was yelling at me for a “design flaw” he opined in a a peripheral product logo mount…I log that to anal retentive perfectionism. He had rules. But Steve’s big picture application capability allowed him to to understand how things fit together better than anybody I ever met. He could just see them working together in a final solution…By the way, I yelled back at him during that first experience, explaining that he’d given us two months to release two new printers (generally a six to nine month project), and that he should just back the hell off! He went quiet for a minute (during which I thought that my first two weeks were going to be my last) after which he smiled, shook my hand, and we got along fine after that.

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