As admirers and haters continue to remember the late Steve Jobs, a new book written by Walter Isaacson, provides more detail about how the late co-founder of Apple Inc. was able to achieve the impossible with his employees.
One of Jobs' most important assets was his ability to distort reality, convincing people that what they thought was impossible really wasn't impossible, Isaacson wrote. In fact, early Apple employees who worked on the Macintosh project in the early 1980s even had a name for it. They called it Jobs' "reality distortion field."
"The best way to describe the situation is term from 'Star Trek,'" said one-time Apple software engineer Bud Tribble in "Steve Jobs."
"Steve has a reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he's not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules," Tribble said.
Tribble later told Isaacson that the phrase came from "The Menagerie" to describe how the Talosians created "their own new world through sheer mental force."
"The Menagerie," as Star Trek fans know, was actually taken from the original "Star Trek" pilot, "The Cage." There, Capt. Christopher Pike and his crew (who include a young Vulcan named Spock) answer a distress beacon on what they think are survivors of a space ship crash from more than a decade before. Instead, they find aliens who had destroyed their world, and were now looking to repopulate it, using the humans they lured.
"The Cage" did not originally air since NBC ordered a second unprecedented pilot. However, it was lated incorporated into "The Menagerie," a two-part episode written by Gene Roddenberry that aired in November 1966. "The Cage" would later air for the first time in 1988, ahead of the premiere of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Season 2.
"The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand," said fellow Macintosh team member Andy Hertzfeld. "Amazingly, the reality distortion field seemed to be effective, even if you were acutely aware of it. We would often discuss potential techniques for grounding it, but after a while most of us gave up, accepting it as a force of nature."
The book, now available in stores and through Apple's iBook store, was officially sanctioned by Jobs, and was originally intended for a March 2012 release. However, when Jobs stepped down from Apple in August, that release date was moved to late November. It was again moved to the end of October following Jobs' death Oct. 5.
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