October 31, 2011

Steve Jobs's feet.

From the Walter Isaacson biography "Steve Jobs":
He was still convinced, against all evidence, that his vegan diets meant that he didn’t need to use a deodorant or take regular showers. “We would have to literally put him out the door and tell him to go take a shower,” said Markkula. “At meetings we had to look at his dirty feet.” Sometimes, to relieve stress, he would soak his feet in the toilet, a practice that was not as soothing for his colleagues.

***

To produce the fully packaged Apple II would require significant capital, so they considered selling the rights to a larger company. Jobs went to Al Alcorn and asked for the chance to pitch it to Atari’s management. He set up a meeting with the company’s president, Joe Keenan, who was a lot more conservative than Alcorn and Bushnell. “Steve goes in to pitch him, but Joe couldn’t stand him,” Alcorn recalled. “He didn’t appreciate Steve’s hygiene.” Jobs was barefoot, and at one point put his feet up on a desk. “Not only are we not going to buy this thing,” Keenan shouted, “but get your feet off my desk!” Alcorn recalled thinking, “Oh, well. There goes that possibility.”

70 comments:

gerry said...

I'm glad I was never willing to pay for an Apple computer.

Tim said...

I will be relieved once the Steve Jobs postmortem bubble bursts.

Enough already.

traditionalguy said...

Putting your bare feet up on another man's desk is an assertion of total authority over that office.

The only possible benefit is to make a man an enemy who never forgives you...which means that they never forget you either.

bagoh20 said...

How would Jobs have reacted if the shoe was not on the other foot?

James said...

>>I'm glad I was never willing to pay for an Apple computer.<<

I remember in the late 80's my grad school had a huge display area with Next computers and slick-talking salesmen. I almost bought one but decided to get an IBM PS/2 instead.

Next went out of business about a year later and Jobs returned to Apple.

Smilin' Jack said...

Jobs is being compared a lot to Thomas Edison, but I think a more apt comparison might be to Howard Hughes.

Christopher in MA said...

I read somewhere that Wozniak was the same way, thinking that the vegan diet he was on removed any need to shower or practice basic hygiene. More grist for my contention that the majority of vegetarians are passive-aggressive, ignorant fools.

Scott M said...

Screw his feet. I want to know what he was looking at when he was chanting "oh wow" right at the end. If anyone on the planet could pull off the death sequence from Brainstorm, it would be Steve Jobs.

PatCA said...

The Doc Something Ventured also has lots of anecdotes about the young, brash Jobs. Great film.

YoungHegelian said...

Howard Hughes became weird in his later years, but in his youth was a handsome fellow who in his Hollywood years was involved with many a beautiful actress. I doubt he had hygiene issues at the time.

Steve Jobs started weird and stayed that way.

James said...

This behavior reminds me of Mao who reportedly rarely bathed and NEVER brushed his rancid green teeth.
As he said, "Does the tiger brush his teeth?"

Surfed said...

Had he no Mary Magdalene to wash his feet or that he might reveal his resurrected body too?

MayBee said...

Why can't our politicians be more like this?????


--David Gregory

Brother J said...

Howard Hughes redux?

Scott M said...

Did Jobs call either of his feet "Rosebud"?

TMink said...

But this goes against the narrative as Steve Jobs the saint. Now I sure love my iPod and personal computer and I really appreciate his contribution to that, but in the end, he was just some guy. Like all the rest of us.

Trey

Robert Cook said...

"I read somewhere that Wozniak was the same way, thinking that the vegan diet he was on removed any need to shower or practice basic hygiene."

Are you sure this is not apocryphal? Wozniak does not seem the vegan type...or body type.

"More grist for my contention that the majority of vegetarians are passive-aggressive, ignorant fools."

Not being a Vegan, I cannot comment on whether they may be predisposed to be "passive-aggressive, ignorant fools," but in the instance of tech geeks purported to be Vegan, might one not wonder whether their odd behavior is a result of underlying differences in their cognitive functioning? In short, many techies are alleged to be afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome, (or they may just be unsocialized due to extreme shyness or poor social skills), and they may simply not know (or even recognize) how to behave according to acceptable prevailing social customs.

raf said...

@ Robert Cook. Y'know, just about when I am resolved to start scrolling past your posts, you go and say something sensible. Sigh.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ndspinelli said...

"Inka binka bottle of inka cork fell in and you stinka."

Beth said...

I've never understood why people want to find a way NOT to shower or bathe. Water and soap feel good. Why avoid them?

Moose said...

It's amazing how people think that geniuses like Jobs are not broken somehow. If you look into the history of great artists, insanity and mental aberration go hand in hand with immense talent. Clearly Jobs was warped at a fundemental level, however talented he was.

Christopher in MA said...

Robert, I apologize. I was certain my anecdote was about Wozniak, but a google search only turns up Jobs as the subject of the story. So I misremembered.

And I'll accept your categorization of vegans in this case, though certainly the ones I have met are, in the main, nasty, humorless pieces of work.

edutcher said...

What Tim said.

He may have been brilliant and a great salesman, but he also sounds like a jerk.

Also, what raf said.

Shanna said...

Water and soap feel good. Why avoid them?

Yeah, I don't get it either, Beth. Why give up the pleasure of a hot shower in the morning?

I didn't realize (some) Vegans thought they didn't have to shower. No wonder they tend to look terrible!

Carol_Herman said...

You should have smelled Mahatma Ghandi!

And, whatever Steve Jobs believed in. He lived his life that way. And, he cut his own life short by doing so.

Whatever his foibles were, in the hospital he was kept clean.

Robert Cook said...

"But whether Jobs was Aspergerian isn't clear from these anecdotes. And some other things about him—such a his skills as a showman—would argue against it."

Jobs was certainly not afflicted with Asperger's, or any disorder on the autism scale. He was just possessed of the notion that he was special and the rules did not apply to him.

Oclarki said...

Aspergers is such a scam. It's just an excuse to be an asshole without having to take any responsibilty for it.

Robert Cook said...

"'Water and soap feel good. Why avoid them?'

"Yeah, I don't get it either, Beth. Why give up the pleasure of a hot shower in the morning?"


Apparently, some people find the sensation of water and soap--or even just water--on their bodies to be unpleasant. Others may just find the tedium of bathing and shampooing to outweigh the presumed pleasure of being clean.

Peter said...

So, what's the counterfactual history here?

How would our world wwould have been different if he'd sold the rights to the Apple II?

Roux said...

Apparently he was a nutjob.... What a disgusting act of total selfishness. Speaking of selfishness, now that he's dead can we have Flash?

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

He was still convinced, against all evidence, that his vegan diets meant that he didn’t need to use a deodorant or take regular showers. “We would have to literally put him out the door and tell him to go take a shower,” said Markkula.

Vegan? Bet he was flatulent too.

wv - stsmoxes - Saints Moxes? I didn't know there was one, let alone two!

Robert Cook said...

"Aspergers is such a scam. It's just an excuse to be an asshole without having to take any responsibilty for it."

Do you know anyone with Asperger's? The child of my oldest friend has it, and someone who worked in my place of employement for several years had all the indications of it.

It is an actual cognitive impairment and although considered a "high-functioning" form of autism, will affect some lightly and other severely. It is not "just an excuse to be an asshole."

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

I've never understood why people want to find a way NOT to shower or bathe. Water and soap feel good. Why avoid them?

Dry skin. My 88-yo Dad is down to one shower a week, per doctor's orders. But he doesn't smell too much like stale sweat. More like Bay Rum.

Enjoy your showers while your skin is young a supple!

MadisonMan said...

young AND supple, that is.

prairie wind said...

Speaking of selfishness, now that he's dead can we have Flash?

Funniest comment on Jobs I've seen...and there have been a lot of them.

Soaking his feet in the toilet? Golly...he must have been a genius.

gutless said...

If I invoke Godwin's law by saying Hitler and the Nazis can we please bring the Jobs obsession to a well deserved conclusion?

blake said...

I learned my chops on an Apple ][. 48K RAM. 140K disks, I think?

It's kept me fed and clothed and housed.

Thanks, Dad. And thanks, Steves!

Scott M said...

I learned my chops on an Apple ][. 48K RAM. 140K disks, I think?

Can't you just see someone on a 50-year-hence episode of Antique Road Show tell some rube that the suitcase they found in their dad's attic is actually an old Osborne computer worth $50000 on the collector's market?

Of course, in fifty years, $50000 will only be enough to do a few loads of laundry, but still...

J said...

the majority of vegetarians are passive-aggressive, ignorant fools.

Actually ....you may be correct. Byro the AZ acidhead troll here with a 100 names--"sorepaw", "prairie wind"-- is a vegan. Tho no Jobs--he doesn't know a CPU from his phony CPA shingle he bought from Rolling Stone--tho the fag willl lie about it.

Indeed zen works well to advance corporate tyranny.

blake said...

From what I can tell, while Asperger's is a (very) real thing, a lot of people use it to excuse themselves for bad behavior.

And a lot of parents use "autism" to avoid using the much less cool "retardation".

blake said...

Might work with an Osborne, but it seems unlikely with a PC or Apple. Too damn many of 'em. But I suppose with time...

Rick Lockridge said...

Certainly there's a correlation between being very smart and feeling you're above the rules. The list is long and distinguished...but...really caring that much about not having to have a license plate? Really?

There's lots of asshole moves I wish I were rich enough to pull but that's not one of them.

I agree, no autism or Asperger's here. (Although our son, who's autistic, has many similar qualities: he has a super fast brain, does not care what anyone else thinks of him, does not care about anything YOU think is important (only what HE thinks is important); and only practices personal hygiene to the extent we make him do it). So I can see how people would make the comparison.

I was a huge Jobs admirer, but I'll admit I've moved toward TMink's position.

Scott M said...

Might work with an Osborne, but it seems unlikely with a PC or Apple. Too damn many of 'em. But I suppose with time...

Plus, neither the PC or Apple look like suitcases...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't know about the no showering thing for Vegans being the sole cause of the stink.

Knowing some people who are vegan and who DO have good hygiene, they still have a strange sour odor. The smell is hard to describe, but it is definitely unpleasant. Similar to how keotones or ketosis smells, a sort of acetone type of smell or like cat pee.

It must be a part of the vegan diet causing the body to actually break down. Vegan is NOT a natural diet for humans.

Not bathing is just another layer of stink on top of it.

Class factotum said...

He may have been brilliant and a great salesman, but he also sounds like a jerk.

He was. My husband worked for Apple for a few years. No, we don't have any stock. Unfortunately.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Stink different.

blake said...

DBQ,

My daughter was in ketosis for five years (as part of the ketogenic diet to control epilepsy), and she was always sweet-smelling, sort of like Juicyfruit!

Freeman Hunt said...

I am skeptical of this anecdote. It's too socially ridiculous. An outrageously boorish blunder.

Jobs was a smart man. It's one thing to be unkempt, but it's another to put bare, dirty feet on the desk of someone you're pitching to.

I don't buy it.

madAsHell said...

Next went out of business about a year later and Jobs returned to Apple.

No....Apple purchased Next for almost $500 million dollars.

If that's going out of business, then bring it on!!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Blake

I guess not ketosis then. But still....vegans smell like cat pee or something sour. At least to me.

I am super sensitive to PTC and cannot stand Brussels Sprouts or cooked Cauliflower (raw seems to be ok for some reason). They taste like nail polish remover and that is how Vegans smell to me. Like bad cabbage or overcooked cauliflower.

blake said...

That I wouldn't disagree with.

It sounds like you have a problem with a cruciferous vegetables, which could negatively impact your testosterone production. :-P

jamboree said...

@DustBunnyQueen

That's gas. They have a lot of it.

WV: proot

Not kidding, proot is in the urban dictionary as fart.

andinista said...

Driven, intense people move the world. The rest of us help them. But as with Hercules, being a child of Zeus usually is a very mixed blessing. That Jobs was peculiar is unimportant in the great scheme of things.

Einstein, I read, had a wife to give him the stability he needed to be effective. He had a mistress for companionship.

I know a little of this. My dad, all his life, has been an entrepreneurial kind of guy. He has people who are life-long loyalists. He has people who despise him intensely. He has always been a dominating personality, and difficult to get along with. When I go home for the holidays, I leave feeling exhausted as if I've ridden the whirlwind. How my momma has lived with him all these years is a mystery to me, she must be a saint.

Rick Lockridge said...

Freeman-I had the same thought, but--

--you could argue that he also stuck his stinky, Vegan feet up on Cancer's desk. He paid a high price for it, but in both cases (if both stories are true), he wasn't afraid to do it.

I think we're all interested in what made him exceptionally successful. It seems Jobs used his outsized self-confidence as a battering ram with great success in most encounters. But you have to know when the guy across the desk can kill you.

Psychedelic George said...

There's also that story about the time when Jobs was walking around and hurt his foot.

Had to call a tow truck.

andinista said...

A more poignant story I read about Jobs, was from the guy who interviewed him while he and his family was vacationing in Hawaii.

Whales were seen spouting in the ocean. Steve was asked what kind they were. He looked at them for a minute, and then said "I don't know."

He then mentioned that all he ever does is think about Apple, and how to make its products great. He has no time for anything else.

Like Moses and Frodo.

andinista said...

Each of us is endowed with an over-abundance of human foibles. Speak no ill of the dead. It is each person's struggle to make a lasting difference in an uncaring universe that we remember and celebrate. The only thing we have that makes us human, is that we create lasting beauty. Remember only the gifts wrested from the universe that each person has brought to us.

Valentine Smith said...

Jobs was a sociopath without the stomach for violence.

An exgirlfriend accused me of being an Asperger's. I took it as compliment. Told her no, I was just one cold motherfucker.

AST said...

He's starting to resemble Howard Hughes in my mind.

pm317 said...

Jobs was not vegetarian nor vegan. He ate fish.

andinista said...

And you all are mistaken about Howard Hughes. In twenty years he built an unparalleled Southern California aerospace empire. It's pieces still exist today, all operating under different names. Hughes was a Twentieth century industrial giant. That his body failed him is of no lasting importance.

How many of you would, if visited by Mephistopheles, trade in your no-account life, to be the next Howard Hughes?

There are two telling moments in the recent film of HH. First, when he visited Hepburn's parents. The visit actually occurred, and although the events were different, the tone was correct. Hepburn's family was laying on him about how they were blue-blood progressive aristocracy with all the right opinions, and you could see he was both repelled and amused at their unearned vanity.

Then in the movie, when he busted up with Hepburn. She thought it was earth-shattering. He said, nah, you're just an actress.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Jobs might not have cared what people thought of him, but that would only make him autistic if he lacked the ability to know or intuit what others thought of him.

traditionalguy said...

Ritmo for the win.

Gene said...

Scott M: Screw his feet. I want to know what he was looking at when he was chanting "oh wow" right at the end.

That was exactly my reaction as well. What did he see?

I have read that at the moment of death the brain releases chemicals that make us die in a state of euphoria. If so, that's a small comfort to those of us who believe when you die that's it for all eternity.

blake said...

Didn't Hughes get the Disney treatment? I mean, Uncle Walt was as clean as they come so that hack Marc Eliot made up stuff wholesale, but even with Hughes mental troubles, a lot of stuff popularly believed is exaggerated.

Joan said...

does not care what anyone else thinks of him, does not care about anything YOU think is important (only what HE thinks is important); and only practices personal hygiene to the extent we make him do it)

Rick L, you do realize you've describe the vast majority of young adolescent boys? The older ones become obsessive about hygiene, but not until after they've gone through their stinky phase.

I know, I teach junior high.

Jobs wasn't anywhere on the autism scale. He was eccentric.

cheddar said...

The stinky feet are never the worst part -- for men with unkempt feet, it is the toenails that are the most disgusting.

Gracie said...

Why do people insist on dredging up this kind of excrement when a person dies? Just LEAVE HIM AND HIS FAMILY THE HELL ALONE!