Today I heard the news, like everyone else, that Steve Jobs did not agree to surgery for nine months after learning that he had pancreatic cancer. That news sent me back into the cyclical “what if” thought patterns that I was in for the first week after his death.
Regarding his cancer treatment, Jobs was quoted as saying in a New York Times story posted today:
A doctor told Mr. Jobs that the pioneering treatments of the kind he was undergoing would soon make most types of cancer a manageable chronic disease. Later, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson that he was either going be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it.”
This immediately reminded me of a commentary he made about NeXT Computer that he founded after leaving Apple in 1986. In the latter days of NeXT (1995), when asked about the goals he had in mind in setting up the company, Jobs stated:
That’s complicated. We basically wanted to keep doing what we were doing at Apple, to keep innovating. But we made a mistake which was to try to follow the same formula we did at Apple, to make the whole widget. But the market was changing. The industry was changing. The scale was changing. And in the end we knew we would be either the last company to make it or the first to not make it.
Unfortunately, he lost on both counts.
But, in the case of the latter, that’s only true as regards NeXT as an independent venture. Shortly after he made that comment, Apple purchased NeXT and, to make a long story short, you are probably running the latest version of the NEXTSTEP operating system in your pocket. Ultimately, there he won.
And, as a result, so did the rest of us.