Wolfram: Jobs was a ‘remarkable inspiration’

Ben Camm-Jones
13 December, 2011
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Steve Jobs

Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha, has said that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs “will always be a remarkable inspiration” in an interview.

Speaking to the Observer newspaper over the weekend, Wolfram said that Jobs’ technicological achievements and “great tenacity and dramatic ultimate success” would provide the foundations for more remarkable successes.

Jobs also personally inspired Wolfram. “Over the years, Steve encouraged me in many ways, like when I asked him for a back-cover quote for my book A New Kind of Science that I’d spent a decade writing and he responded: ‘Isaac Newton didn’t have back-cover quotes; why should you?’”.

The two first met when Jobs was working on his NeXT computer and Wolfram was building the first version of Mathematica. “Our first meeting was classic Steve Jobs. He explained that he expected that what he was doing would change the world and, by the way, make a lot of money too. And he told me he was picking all sorts of bold new hardware and software technologies for his computer and he wanted one of them to be Mathematica.”

The two kept in touch over the years and Jobs would make “remarkably detailed emails and phone calls” about all sorts of matters, particularly the development of Mathematica – in fact, says Wolfram, “it was he who suggested the name”.

An interesting snippet about Jobs’ personal life is also revealed by Wolfram. “We were talking about technology strategy, when suddenly he apologised for being distracted. He said he was going out that night on a date with a woman he’d met the day before and suddenly all his confidence as a technologist and businessman melted away. Happily, the date worked out and the woman he met became his wife for the rest of his life.”

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