On the same day that, the crowning event of the Code 2022 conference was a memorial to Apple’s iconic co-founder and long-time CEO of Apple. Recode’s Kara Swisher led the company’s current chief executive Tim Cook, former lead product designer Jony Ive, and Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs in a warm discussion of his lasting impact — which will soon include a website devoted to the tech legend called the Steve Jobs Archive.
It’s unclear what shape the Archive will take, though it’s being created by an archivist and lead historian that consulted with Powell Jobs, Cook, Ive, and others who worked with Jobs over the years. There are some physical artifacts and materials, but it’s “much more about ideas,” as Powell Jobs explained to Code’s crowd, especially Jobs’ notion that understanding how human design governs our lives means you can change it, interrogate it, and stretch it to make human progress.
“Everything that you’re born into, the design of everything around you, the clothes that you wear, all of these decisions were made by someone else,” Powell Jobs said. “As humans, we have a responsibility to put things back into that pool of human existence in a way that benefits us.”
The Steve Jobs Archive will live digitally as a website along with some programs and other products, though Powell Jobs didn’t share other details like when it would be available. But among the collection will be memories of Apple’s cofounder, as “a very brilliant documentary filmmaker” interviewed hundreds of people who knew him over the years. There will also be a body of stuff that’s “just Steve,” as Ive described, which would help folks get the sense of how he saw the world.
The announcement was the only bit of news from the discussion, which was otherwise rich with stories and notions about who Jobs was and what he left. Powell Jobs spoke of when he came back to Apple in 1997 and hewed its large product line down to just four models and his power to say ‘no’ — not just to bad ideas but to great ones that didn’t fit.
“It speaks to the clarity and crispness of his thinking, and making those four things the best things on the planet,” Powell Jobs said. “He talked about leaving behind a body of work the way an artist does.”
Jobs’ vision for Apple was at the intersection of liberal arts and technology, Cook explained, noting that those who followed have deliberately chosen not to make decisions how he would have made them (at Jobs’ own request), but they kept the company at that crossroads of human-inspired design. “We always think about the humanity of the story of the person behind the product,” Cook said.
Despite Apple’s turnaround success in the 2000s, Jobs could still be surprised. Apple’s co-founder had always assumed vicariously that his work would have enormous influence. But Ive recalled one day at lunch, the volume of the iPod Nanos sold in the world struck Jobs in a new way — that they were all directly touching people. “It thrilled him, not because the goal was huge volume, but to be so relevant,” Ive said.
And when the Steve Jobs Archive goes online, perhaps others can see the world a bit like he’s seen it.