When Steve Jobs passed away yesterday, he left behind a legacy. The first thing one thinks of is, of course, the products he helped create… products many of us now use every day.
But his life was significant not only for what he created, but for who he was. By way of tribute to him, a few miscellaneous clips: his 2005 commencement address at Stanford, an article about a Catholic priest who inspired his love of typography, and a short video reminding us of a few of the many blessings that have come into our culture by way of those who have been adopted.
* * *
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Steve Jobs, Commencement Address at Stanford University (2005)
* * *
In 1972, Steve Jobs graduated from high school and enrolled in Portland’s Reed College. Although he dropped out after only one semester, he continued auditing calligraphy, while sleeping on the floor in friends’ rooms, returning bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.
His calligraphy teacher was Robert Palladino, a former Trappist monk and future archdiocesan priest.
“Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country,” Jobs said during a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. “Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this.”
Palladino taught him about serif and sans serif type faces and about varying spaces between combinations of letters, and everything that makes typography good.
“It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture,” Jobs said.
Ten years later, when Jobs was desigining the first Macintosh computer, his calligraphy lessons came back to him. He even called his old teacher for advice.
“He introduced me to something called a ‘mouse,'” Father Palladino says.
Jobs and his partners designed the artistry into their machine and it became the first computer with lovely typography instead of robotic characters.
* * *