While most of the news on the death of Steve Jobs is focused on his contributions to Apple and the consumer tech industry, he had a large effect on the entertainment industry as well. Without a doubt, one of his greatest accomplishments was funding Pixar during a time when computer animation in films was still a niche technology.
On yesterday’s post where I thanked Mr. Jobs for everything, a former Pixar employee (anonymously) shared a lengthy comment providing some amazing stories from the early days of Pixar and what Steve Jobs meant to the individuals working there.
Here is the full comment (with some very slight grammatical changes):
As a former Pixar employee, I will say one of the highlights of working there was being able to interact with Steve on a semi-regular basis in meetings, company lunches, wandering the halls or in the screening room on occasion. I cannot imagine a world without Steve. Pixar would have never created these movies or the great characters and stories. The technology woud have been sold to General Motors, to help build cars, or another company I can no longer remember to do high speed chip manufacturing validation. Really, it could have been the fate of the group if it weren’t for Steve throwing in almost all his money on this crazy idea to make movies. He forever changed the film industry and changed the way they are made and now watched.
Steve always instilled this idea in you that you wanted to ‘do something great’ and we all worked hard to do it. We mostly wanted to please him by doing cool technical things, as if he was the proud papa. I remember the day Steve told us he was going to be Apple iCEO, and later showed us the iMac, iPod and those were wonderful days as he was so proud of these products that he and the Apple team created. He was the proud papa showing this extended family his new ideas of what he could do, as he mostly stayed out of the movie making at Pixar as it wasn’t something he fully understood. He once even tried to have us render some of the full-res movies images on some of the G3 and G4 desktops even though we told him it couldn’t work. He pestered the team until we tried. It didn’t work out, due to technology issues (our datasets were waay too big) but it was worth a shot, and you couldn’t say no to Steve. He really wanted to make the movies completely on a Mac. Steve finally had to throw in the towel on this idea but it’s the only time I have ever seen him back down from one of his ideas as he never asked again.
I remember joking with him about shaving off his beard and the speeding tickets he got in his silver car to come see us up in the North Bay and having a good laugh about it. He came off as a normal person in these times, and not the tech megastar he was. I learned things about marketing and business that I won’t forget and he taught us all not to be afraid of failure in business. It’s ok to take risks and fail, as it’s the things that succeed that you will be remembered for.
I wish Laurene and family the sincerest of condolences as he will be greatly missed by all.
Rest in Peace Steve.