Documenting Jobs’ Life and Legacy

The December issue of SUCCESS magazine was already at press when the news broke of Steve Jobs’ death on Oct. 5.

A quick call to the printer gave editors 24 hours to update the December cover and an interview with author Carmine Gallo. But the Apple founder’s passing was as much an online experience for Apple devotees as it was a breaking news event. 

By midnight eastern time — less than five hours after Apple announced that Steve Jobs had passed away — 1.4 million tweets had been sent with his name in them, according to social media analysts Sysomos. By morning, there were 2.5 million tweets.

Online editors turned to the SUCCESS magazine Facebook page to ask our readers, If you picked Steve Jobs’ single-most important legacy, what would it be? We received 200 votes in 10 minutes, 1,250 votes in just 12 hours and 1,330 votes 18 hours later. The lead answer with 835 votes was Jobs’ return to Apple as CEO.

As online tributes and discussions poured in, many reflected on Jobs’ achievements as an innovator. In June 2010, SUCCESS magazine’s “innovation”-themed issue featured Steve Jobs as the cover story, writer John H. Ostdick describes how Steve Jobs changed the way we work, play and communicate.  From the first paragraph:

On a foggy, cool day in January, Steve Jobs and Apple are bidding to change the world again. Jobs sits comfortably in a leather chair in front of a rapt San Francisco auditorium crowd, a large video screen tracking his hand movements on a thin, slate-looking object resting comfortably in his hands. Dressed in his trademark blue jeans, dark turtleneck, and New Balance shoes, the wire-framed Apple co-founder and culture-shaper peppers his speech with “remarkable, awesome” and “amazing” references to his company’s latest new wave—a notebook device called the iPad. This “truly magical and revolutionary product” fills a category need between his company’s successful laptop and iPhone and iPod business lines, Jobs says.

Later, after Jobs’ August 2011 resignation, Ostdick reflected back on that feature, writing Reporter’s Notebook: Steve Jobs for the SUCCESS blog:

Steve Jobs’ resignation as Apple CEO occurred, as most everything else, on his own terms. The man who has maintained an iron grip on how his company’s story is told exited gracefully, solemnly, with little fanfare.

Jobs peers out from the magazine, head slightly cocked, left eyebrow slightly raised, an imperious smirk on his whiskered face—but what tells the full story is the penetrating, somewhat beguiling gaze that looks directly from behind his wire-frame spectacles. That is the Jobs who wooed and bullied, cajoled and inspired, and created an industry from scratch and who went on to play a significant role in reshaping the music, movie, animation, and mobile-phone businesses.

In what’s still regarded as his most poignant public speech, Jobs talked candidly about death and life. Of the Stanford commencement speech posted on the SUCCESS Video site, web editor Shelby Skrhak wrote:

But in an uncharacteristically revealing 2005 speech, Jobs shared with Stanford grads his very personal journey to becoming successful: a botched adoption, in which the couple who was going to adopt Jobs changed their minds; his public humiliation at being fired from the company he helped found; a cancer diagnosis that most certainly gave him a death sentence—“three to six months to live,” the doctors told him.

He talked candidly about death in that commencement speech, cracking the joke, “If you live each day of your life as if it’s your last, some day you will most certainly be right.”

Reflecting on his risk-taking approach, Jobs said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to make the big choices in life.”

At Tuesday’s Apple iPhone 4S announcement, the day before Jobs died, Apple enthusiasts hoped and waited for a surprise appearance by Jobs that never came. But you could say Jobs had a sense of humor about his own mortality.

He told an Apple audience several years ago, “Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated” after Bloomberg accidentally published the unfinished 17-page obituary they planned to run.

(It’s standard practice for news outlets to pre-write obituaries for noted personalities.)

It read, “Steve Jobs, who helped make personal computers as easy to use as telephones, changed the way films are made, persuaded consumers to tune into digital music and refashioned the mobile phone, has XXX. He was TK.”

(XXX and TK: journalism jargon meaning, To Come)

Today’s Bloomberg obituary for Jobs read: Steve Jobs, who built the world’s most valuable technology company by creating devices that changed how people use electronics and revolutionized the computer, music and mobile-phone industries, died. He was 56.


Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

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