Steve Jobs was a true obsessive. He pored over every tiny detail of every product, every ad, every store, every thing related to Apple.
His attention to detail and craft apparently came from his father who told him it was important to craft the backs of fences and cabinets even though they would never be seen. Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson, "He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn't see."
While that's an important lesson to learn, Jobs may have taken it a little too far. The Jobs biography is loaded with examples of Jobs zeroing in on even the most insignificant detail just to get things right.
For instance, when Apple was starting to open new retail stores, his ad partner Lee Clow said, "Steve made us spend a half hour deciding what hue of gray the restroom signs should be." It's good to get the color right, but there's no reason to take a half hour agonizing over such a small detail. Pick a nice shade of gray, move on.
Of course, that's why he was Steve Jobs and we're not. Here are a few more examples of his attention to detail.
He "agonized" over the way the title bars at the top of files and windows looked
He wanted the bars to have pinstripes. Bill Atkinson, one of the main Mac developers, said, "We must have gone through twenty different title bar designs before he was happy." Eventually Atkinson and another employee complained about wasting time on endless small tweaks.
Jobs freaked out on them, shouting, "Can you imagine looking at that every day? It's not just a little thing, it's something we have to do right."
He insisted on making the circuit board inside the Mac look great
Nobody but Apple's engineers would know what the printed circuit board inside the Mac would look like, but Jobs was critiquing it based on how it looked.
An engineer said to him, "The only thing that matters is how well it works. Nobody is going to see the PC board." Jobs response according to Isaacson: ""I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it's inside the box. A great carpenter isn't going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody's going to see it."
He wanted the exact right shade of beige for the Apple II
Apple's manufacturing partner had 2,000 shades of beige. None of them were good enough. So he came up with his own.
He customized the interior of his private plane and drove the designer crazy
It took him over a year to design the interior of his Gulfstream jet. The reason? He insisted that there were no buttons that toggled. He also hated stainless steel buttons, so he had them replaced with brushed metal buttons.
He insisted the original Mac make rounded rectangles
One of Apple's Mac engineers busted his butt to make the computer do oval and circle illustrations. Everyone in the Mac group was proud. Not Jobs. All he could say was, "Well, circles and ovals are good, but how about drawing rectangles with rounded corners?" The engineer said, "I wanted to keep the graphics routines lean and limit them to the primitives that truly needed to be done."
Jobs flipped out. He said rectangles with round corners were everywhere. He dragged the engineer out of Apple's office and took him for a walk pointing out 17 examples of rectangles with round corners within three blocks.
The floors in Apple stores are made of stone from a quarry outside of Florence
Here's how much detail Jobs put into the floor of Apple stores:
In 1985, as he was being ousted from his first tour at Apple, he had visited Italy and been impressed by the gray stone of Florence's sidewalks. In 2002, when he came to the conclusion that the light wood floors in the stores were beginning to look somewhat pedestrian-a concern that it's hard to imagine bedeviling someone like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer-Jobs wanted to use that stone instead. Some of his colleagues pushed to replicate the color and texture using concrete, which would have been ten times cheaper, but Jobs insisted that it had to be authentic. The gray-blue Pietra Serena sandstone, which has a fine-grained texture, comes from a family-owned quarry, Il Casone, in Firenzuola outside of Florence. "We select only 3% of what comes out of the mountain, because it has to have the right shading and veining and purity," said Johnson. "Steve felt very strongly that we had to get the color right and it had to be a material with high integrity." So designers in Florence picked out just the right quarried stone, oversaw cutting it into the proper tiles, and made sure each tile was marked with a sticker to ensure that it was laid out next to its companion tiles. "Knowing that it's the same stone that Florence uses for its sidewalks assures you that it can stand the test of time," said Johnson.
He put similar attention to detail on Pixar's HQ
The building's steel beams were going to be exposed, so Isaacson says Jobs look at samples of beams from around the country. He picked beams from Arkansas, and made sure the steel was blasted to its pure color. Then he made sure the truckers didn't leave any marks on the beams. He also insisted the beams were bolted together, not welded, and then clear coated.
When he was hospitalized he rejected masks because they were ugly
We're not sure if he was delirious, or what here, but this is taking things too far:
Even when he was barely conscious, his strong personality came through. At one point the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated. Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked. The doctors looked at Powell, puzzled. She was finally able to distract him so they could put on the mask. He also hated the oxygen monitor they put on his finger. He told them it was ugly and too complex. He suggested ways it could be designed more simply. "He was very attuned to every nuance of the environment and objects around him, and that drained him," Powell recalled.