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quarta-feira, 5 de outubro de 2011

RIP Steve Jobs A look back: NY Times lists 317 Jobs patents

updated 09:45 pm EDT, Wed October 5, 2011

Originally published when Jobs resigned

Steve Jobs leaves more than a legacy of inspiration and management at Apple; he was also a hands-on inventor, often working with others but inextricably a part of many products that came out of the company -- including smaller contributions like packaging design or accessories, not just his well-known role in shaping the computers and mobile devices for which the company is best known today.
Often working in tandem with other designers such as Apple Senior VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive or engineers to achieve his vision but occasionally listed as sole or principle inventor, Jobs generally worked like a sculptor -- endlessly reviewing each piece of a process and accepting or rejecting them until the final product emerged from a thousand possible decisions. In some cases he would come up with the original idea and work with teams to see it through; other times he would devise a method to improve an existing product, such as the design for the chargers for many of the current Apple products.

When Jobs resigned as CEO last August, The New York Times ran a profile of the patents on which Jobs' name appears as a way of looking into his mind -- and found a CEO who saw no detail as too small, contributing ideas wherever he thought they would improve the experience for the user. Jobs was also known for mentioning that Apple threw away at least as many products and ideas as they carried through to market, a sign of his dedication to discovery via trial-and-error. Many of the patents listed in the interactive feature never made it beyond the prototype stage, and others (such as the Apple TV) evolved considerably before finding mainstream acceptance.

He was also credited with a number of eloquent writings, including the copy for the famous "Here's to the Crazy Ones" commercial that kicked off the "Think Different" campaign, and his open letter "Thoughts on Flash," which changed the debate on Apple's decision to keep Flash off its mobile devices, letting more open alternatives gain a foothold and restoring competition that the rest of industry eventually embraced -- just as Apple did with its own operating system a decade earlier.

Ironically, Jobs -- and Apple -- may be as well known for the way they made some products obsolete as they are for the innovations they contributed. A long list of popular technologies, products, services and icons of modern life -- from video-rental and CD outlets to commercial radio and TV networks and photography (and now, with Siri, potentially search engines) have seen their impact lessened and their business model thrown into disarray by the disruptive nature of Apple's periodic industry-changing revelations and the ripples of those inventions.

Of the 317 patents so far awarded that mention Jobs, he is listed as sole or principle inventor on 33 of them -- including the signature glass staircases, themselves an innovative design, that embody his vision of elegance married to functionality and are a fixture at Apple's flagship retail stores. In recent months, Jobs has been offering further ideas involving glass, helping re-design the iconic glass "cube" of the 5th Avenue Apple Store as well as expounding on an innovative use of massive pieces of curved glass for the company's forthcoming new headquarters.

Over 200 of the patents also involve his main collaborator, Apple VP of Design Jonathan Ive. Since Ive's first marquee contribution to the company -- the futuristic (and influential) but commercially unsuccessful 20th Anniversary Macintosh, Ive has been one of Apple's lead designers, working with Jobs to achieve visionary concepts, such as the iMac's (all versions) goal of "hiding" the CPU behind the screen, making the experience more immersive for users without simply shuffling the mechanic under the desk or otherwise taking up work space.

"Design is a funny word," Jobs once said. "Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works."

The Times' profile of Jobs can be seen here, and the interactive list of patents can be found here.


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