Steve Jobs quotes: The tech titan on work, tech, and creativity

A catalog of Steve Jobs quotes, organized by topic.

A man takes a photograph outside an Apple store in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Apple CEO Steve Jobs passed away this week, but his legacy lives on.

On Wednesday evening, Apple announced the death of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. As Brad Knickerbocker of the Monitor has noted, Jobs was something of an oracle – a man who "seemed to know what people wanted and thought they needed even before they did." Jobs was also an inveterate showman, and a reliable dispenser of particularly good quotes. What follows are a few of the very best, organized by topic.

On the evolution of technology

"To make step-function changes, revolutionary changes, it takes that combination of technical acumen and business and marketing – and a culture that can somehow match up the reason you developed your product and the reason people will want to buy it," Jobs told Rolling Stone in 1994. "I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I've done that sort of thing in my life, but I've always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don't know why. Because they're harder. They're much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you've completely failed."

On creativity...

"Creativity is just connecting things," Jobs said in a Wired interview in 1996. "When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity."

...and more specifically, on creating an interesting machine

"Ultimately it comes down to taste," Jobs explained in the PBS documentary Triumph of the Nerds. "It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you're doing. I mean Picasso had a saying, he said good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas, and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world."

On Apple

"Apple was this incredible journey," Jobs said during an interview with the Smithsonian Institute. "I mean we did some amazing things there. The thing that bound us together at Apple was the ability to make things that were going to change the world. That was very important. We were all pretty young. The average age in the company was mid-to-late twenties. Hardly anybody had families at the beginning and we all worked like maniacs and the greatest joy was that we felt we were fashioning collective works of art much like twentieth century physics. Something important that would last, that people contributed to and then could give to more people; the amplification factor was very large."

On work

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work," Jobs said during a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. "And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle."

On the future

In the same address, Jobs exhorted the 2005 graduates to seize control of their potential. "Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true," he said. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Steve Jobs on Steve Jobs

"I'm a tool builder," Jobs said in the Rolling Stone interview. "That's how I think of myself. I want to build really good tools that I know in my gut and my heart will be valuable. And then whatever happens is... you can't really predict exactly what will happen, but you can feel the direction that we're going. And that's about as close as you can get. Then you just stand back and get out of the way, and these things take on a life of their own."

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