What Made Steve Jobs Great?

"In the wake of Steve Jobs's resignation, let's consider the greatest decision he ever made. It didn't happen in a garage in Cupertino, sweating with Steve Wozniak as they dreamed up a computer for the common man. Or in a conference room, as managers told him that no one would ever pay $500 for a portable music player. Or in another conference room, as new managers told him no one would ever pay $400 for a cellphone. Rather, it was in a dusty basement of the Apple campus.

Jobs had just recently come back to the company, after a 12-year layoff working for two of his own startups: NeXT, which made ultra-high-end computers, and Pixar. He was taking a tour of Apple, becoming reacquainted with what the company had become in the years since he'd left. It must have been a sobering, even ugly sight: Apple was dying at the hands of Microsoft, IBM, Dell, and a litany of competitors who were doing what Apple did, only cheaper, with faster processors.

His tour finally brought him to the workbench of a designer ready to quit after just a year on the job, languishing amid a stack of prototypes. Among them was a monolithic monitor with a teardrop swoop, which managed to integrate all of a computer's guts into a single package. In that basement Jobs saw what middle managers did not. He saw the future. And almost immediately he told the designer, Jonathan Ive, that from here on out they'd be working side-by-side on a new line."

Read it at Fast Company.