Stephen Wolfram on 25 Years of Steve Jobs' Influence

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001


    With WolframAlpha having just made a splash earlier this week for its role in the Siri personal assistant included in the forthcoming iPhone 4S, Stephen Wolfram's look back at how Steve Jobs influenced him over the course of 25 years is particularly relevant.

    Wolfram, who gained fame for his development of the computational software Mathematica in the 1980s, was introduced to Jobs in 1987 when Jobs was at NeXT and Wolfram was developing his software. The two held a number of discussions, perhaps the most notable of which resulted in Jobs suggesting that the software be called Mathematica. Wolfram describes Jobs' approach to product naming:
    But Jobs' contributions went well beyond the software's name, extending to a number of suggestions to improve its usability.
    Jobs and Wolfram continued their relationship, with Mathematica eventually being included with every NeXT computer, several of which made their way to Switzerland where Tim Berners-Lee used them to develop and launch the World Wide Web.

    Wolfram goes on to discuss several other interactions with Jobs, including the dating advice Wolfram offered to Jobs after he met his future wife Laurene and the advice Wolfram received from Jobs questioning why Wolfram would include quotes from high-profile sources on the back cover of a book he was writing.
    Wolfram's summary of Jobs offers a similar take to that of others who have shared their perspectives on Jobs' life, citing his "clarity of thought" and willingness to take bold steps.
    Steve Jobs died yesterday at the age of 56, and we've been collecting condolences and remembrances in our main article on his passing.

    Article Link: Stephen Wolfram on 25 Years of Steve Jobs' Influence
  2. r2shyyou macrumors 68000


    Oct 3, 2010
    Paris, France
    I wish I could've gotten to know Steve Jobs personally. Seems like an intriguing person.
  3. millertime021 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_4 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8K2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Amazing software influenced by an amazing person.
  4. hismikeness macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2009
    I hope more and more brilliant people (like Wolfram) keep coming out with these stories about how SJ influenced them in some way. It's incredible how many there's been already.

  5. OrangeSVTguy macrumors 601


    Sep 16, 2007
    Northeastern Ohio
    I don't think you had to know him personally to understand how such an influential person he was. I'm sure he changed many lives.
  6. Krafty macrumors 601


    Dec 31, 2007
    La La Land
  7. dirtleg macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2006
    St. Louis
    I have read more about Steve Jobs in the last couple of days than I have read about him in the last several years. The more I learn about this amazing person the more I realize what a tremendous loss the world has been dealt. Not only to the Apple world, but the entire world of technology hardware and software. He was an incredible visionary that managed to convey his vision to others and enable them to realize that vision into devices that had the world wondering how it got along without them. I am on the list to purchase his biography as now I am very interested in finding out more about Steve Jobs the man as well as Jobs the CEO and inventor. He will be missed more and more as time goes on and his influence on the world of technology becomes more diluted. Apple may carry on and do very well, but it will not be the same in the future as it was yesterday. Rest in peace Steve.
  8. nwcs macrumors 68000


    Sep 21, 2009
    I've followed Jobs off and on since the first MacWorld Expo after he was repatriated to Apple (the only one I ever made it to) and I continue to be amazed at how extensively he influenced products even outside of apple. Had no idea of this connection, either. I'm sure his advice and thoughts were hard to hear at times (all us developers are too attached to our work) but if you had the patience to see it through it seems like you ended out on top.

    As for myself, from that time I have kept in mind several of Jobs' quotes as I develop my software and struggle to keep things simple and elegant when business wants it busy and complex. Especially the quote from his Wired interview talking about creativity. I first ran into that quote around 1997 and have remembered it ever since.
  9. hobo.hopkins macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2008
    I'm glad that these kind of anecdotes are being released. It really allows everyone to appreciate who Steve actually was, since he was much more than just a CEO.
  10. jonhaxor macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    wow - I remember using Mathematica on the NeXT workstations in the WAM labs to run strategy simulations and calculations for the Univ of Maryland Solar Car II back in the mid 90's .. loved the brackets, layout and fonts .. Sergey Brin was around back then too - seem to recall him always coming in bleary-eyed and hanging out with the geeks who typed in complete Monty Python scripts from memory :)
  11. arlo19 macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2011
    Houston, TX
    That's pretty amazing and pretty interesting too. The why behind the name of the application Mathematica, what Steve thoughts were on that... Good to know.
  12. macUser2007 macrumors 65832

    May 30, 2007
    "Clarity of thought" is right on the mark.

    I am not aware of any other captain of industry, who has anything close to the clarity of thought and clarity of vision (both design-wise and generally) that Jobs had.

    I came to hate the closed nature of iOS and some of the business decisions related to it, but I still admire Job's vision for it and am thankful for the simple and elegant world he created.

    I fear that his passing will leave a consumer electronics void populated with drab, tacky Dells, Acers and other products created by nerds and bean-counters, and designed for the Walmart shopper.

    Virtually no heads of companies are irreplaceable, but I fear that Steve Jobs is.
  13. FloatingBones, Oct 6, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011

    FloatingBones macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    Stephen Wolfram is another genius, and I believe his company's products will have an increasing influence on our lives. Wolfram Alpha is an amazing tool; it's a great tool to have available in Siri queries. Wolfram mentioned CDF files in mathematica; they distribute a free CDF Player for PCs and Macs (and have noted that it's coming soon to iOS and Android). With the CDF player, anyone can freely play these simulations with the full power of the Mathematica engine. This is a great gift from Wolfram's company to the world.

    I completely understand the sense of loss, and it's appropriate right now.

    I am not worried for the long-term. I think about one of my personal heroes, Buckminster Fuller, and the great sense of loss we had when he left us in 1983. Today, there are dozens of individuals who burn brightly with Fuller's legacy -- individuals who Dare to be Naive. Stephen Wolfram's wonderful tools for modeling and visualization are helping to fulfill on Fuller's ideas. Bucky lives, and I'm certain that Steve Jobs will live in all of us for a very very long time.

    Hewlett-Packard from its early days through the mid-1970s was quite inspiring. From their earliest scientific calculators (HP-35) to the introduction of the HP-65 in the mid-1970s, HP enjoyed a kind of enthusiasm and customer loyalty rarely found in consumer electronics. You can still see echoes of that enthusiasm: the HP 16C is still a highly-prized machine by its owners.

    I accidentally hit an interesting link between HP's calculators and Apple: Woz worked for HP; Woz sold his HP calculator to help raise money for the production line for the Apple I. :)

    Walt Disney was a similar visionary during his age. He helped spawn the phenomenal growth in So Cal. Many Disney-fans are grateful for the wonderful influence that John Lassiter and Pixar have had on the Disney product in the last few years.
  14. nanotlj macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2008
    While I have used apple computer for more than 8 years, I knew little about Steve beyond that he found apple and is apple ceo. I learnt more about him in these two days from pieces of stories from his friends, colleagues, and partners. Such great memories for such a phenomenal person. You will be missed.
  15. jbuck777 macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2010
    The Great White North
    Steve was Apple.


    Rest in Peace good Sir. Rest in Peace.
  16. Kavier macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2010
    Raleigh, NC
    These stories about Steve Jobs' impact on others are just amazing.
  17. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Mar 20, 2004
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    We were blessed that we had him with us as long as we did.
  18. vintageapple macrumors member


    Aug 29, 2010
    He influenced so many lives. I feel a little less magic in the world now.
  19. belalrawi macrumors newbie


    Jul 3, 2010
    Columbia, MO
    I had to use Mathematica in college and I hated it.
  20. gkpm macrumors 6502


    Jul 15, 2010
    That's not unusual. When you "have to" do something, odds are you won't like it.
  21. MacPioneer macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2010
    I've been teary on and off since I heard the news, which is kind of embarrassing for a male senior citizen to admit.

    I've not posted anything anywhere, despite having worked for Steve at NeXT in the late eighties, but this thread brought back memories. I was doing developer relations for NeXT, so I was involved in many of the meetings with folks like Wolfram. (Don't get me started on refereeing meetings between Jobs and Gates :) Mathematica was a fascinating program, even in those early days, and I enjoyed supporting Theo Gray, who did the actual port to the NeXT machine (and more recently has created the "Elements" app for the iPad).

    I've lusted after Mathematica for the last quarter-century, but coud never justify springing for its four-figure price. The instant Wolfram announced the "personal" edition, I jumped on it. I love using it to explore mathematical ideas, purely for my own amusement. This sort of application is a "brain amplifier" - it enhances an ability the brain alteady posesses. I hope to see it on the iPad someday - I think that would be a true embodiment of one of Steve's dreams.
  22. genosseinski macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2008
    Resurrection: There is no app for that.

    Although people can achieve great things, unfortunately they still can't get erase death.

    Preordered the Kindle book today. It will be interesting to get to know the human side of Steve Jobs.
  23. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    Wow, how cool to know him at such a pivotal time! Much less to see Jobs and Gates interact pre-truce! I can only imagine what working around Steve must have been like. You're a lucky man.
  24. MacPioneer macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2010
    This was actually sort of post-truce. You should have seen them _before_ Steve decided he wanted Bill to port Office to the NeXT machine, and was making nice.
  25. greytmom macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2010
    Wolfram's blog is interesting

    another little tidbit:

    "And as a curious footnote to history (which I learned years later), one batch of NeXTs bought for the purpose of running Mathematica went to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland—where they ended up having no less distinction than being the computers on which the web was first developed."

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