Stephen Fry on his relationship with Steve Jobs

Stephen Fry reveals his admiration for the former Apple boss

In an extract from his blog, Apple fan Stephen Fry, 54, pays an emotional tribute to his idol, Steve Jobs, who tragically died on October 5 2011, aged 56, following an eight-year battle with pancreatic cancer...

"Woke to the news of Steve Jobs's death. He changed the world. I knew him a little and admired him entirely. Love to Apple and his family." That was Stephen Fry’s first tweet about the man he had "bumped into from time to time."

With a little more time to digest events from today, the lover of all things Apple opened up about the man he admired greatly. The following is an extract of what Stephen Fry had to say about Steve Jobs' untimely death.

Stephen Fry's tribute to Steve Jobs

What was Steve Jobs? He wasn’t a brilliant and innovative electronics engineer like his partner and fellow Apple founder Steve Wozniak. Nor was he an acute businessman and aggressively talented opportunist like Bill Gates.

He wasn’t a designer of original genius like Jonathan Ive whose achievements were so integral to Apple’s success from 1997 onwards. He wasn’t a software engineer, a mathematician, a nerd, a financier, an artist or an inventor.

Most of the recent obituaries have decided that words like “visionary” suit him best and perhaps they are right.

As always there are those who reveal their asininity (as they did throughout his career) with ascriptions like “salesman”, “showman” or the giveaway blunder “triumph of style over substance”.

The use of that last phrase, “style over substance” has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool. For those who perceive a separation between the two have either not lived, thought, read or experienced the world with any degree of insight, imagination or connective intelligence.

It may have been Leclerc Buffon who first said “le style c’est l’homme – the style is the man” but it is an observation that anyone with sense had understood centuries before. Only dullards crippled into cretinism by a fear of being thought pretentious could be so dumb as to believe that there is a distinction between design and use, between form and function, between style and substance.

If the unprecedented and phenomenal success of Steve Jobs at Apple proves anything it is that those commentators and tech-bloggers and “experts” who sneered at him for producing sleek, shiny, well-designed products or who denigrated the man because he was not an inventor or originator of technology himself, missed the point in such a fantastically stupid way that any employer would surely question the purpose of having such people on their payroll, writing for their magazines or indeed making any decisions on which lives, destinies or fortunes depended.

The quality I especially revered in him was his refusal to show contempt for his customers by fobbing them off with something that was “good enough”.

Whether it was the packaging, the cabling, the use of screen space, the human interfaces, the colours, the flow, the feel, the graphical or textural features, everything had to be improved upon and improved upon until it was, to use the favourite phrase of the early Mac pioneers “insanely great”.

It had to be so cool that you gasped. It had to feel good in the hand, look good to the eye and it had to change things. It changed things because it made users want to use the devices as they had never been used before. As I used to say of the Mac in the early days, “it makes me jump out of bed early to start work”.

Non exclusive extract of blog "Steve Jobs" by Stephen Fry published on

Watch T3's video tribute to Steve Jobs (below)