x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Steve Jobs and his 'ordinary' office

The co-founder of Apple's office does not, it seems, resemble Mission Control or the secret lair of a Bond villain. In fact, it's not even close.

The same week that iTunes introduces the digital world to The Beatles, photos emerged online of one Mr Steve Jobs in his home office in 2004. Now, somebody sitting on a swivel chair behind a desk isn't the sort of image that would have most people going weak at the knees. But this is Steve Jobs, the man who helped creative people distinguish themselves as creative people by putting a reassuringly expensive glowing apple on the back of their creative equipment. And, as such, photos of him in his work environment must be treated like the Rosetta Stone for Apple fanboys; ardently studied and scrutinised, questioned and analysed.

The pictures, taken in August 2004, were published on the website All About Steve Jobs, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Immediately, internet eyes were peering at these 15 black-and-white images, desperately trying to find something in them that would explain this mysterious man.

The most curious thing was the fact that Jobs' office does not, it seems, resemble Mission Control or the secret lair of a Bond villain. In fact, it's not even close. There isn't a sea of gleaming white Apple boxes, blinking away in smug satisfaction while synchronising Jobs' every thought, in every format, into one handy playlist.

Instead we've got whitewashed walls, a brick floor and a rather plain wooden desk housing just one large (30-inch) monitor, a stack of papers and a phone. Granted, the phone does have a large array of tiny buttons, but that's the only flirtation with the sort of gadgetry one might expect from a man who only has to wave a shiny box aloft every year or two to get the entire world sweating about their role in the future.

The eagle-eyed immediately got to work, noting that he was using a Mac Pro (it was 2004) beneath the table and that he puts the dock, used for running programmes, along the bottom of the screen. Yes, that's right people, Jobs uses the default setting. Gasp. A delivery box also revealed that he shops at a well-known online store. A mild blogger squabble erupted regarding the placement of the phone and a bottle of water. Was Jobs left-handed?, one asked, before another quickly calmed matters by suggesting that the phone is often found on that side.

The main source of bemusement, I'm sure, was that his relatively orderly and plain workspace wasn't much like those of his most ardent of followers. Naturally, I'm writing this from a desk providing support for several of Jobs' toys; also paper, magazines, books, CDs without any cases, pens with lost lids, several blunt pencils and approximately 30,000 empty tea mugs. And they say a cluttered desk is a sign of genius.