Did Atlas Shrugged help inspire Steve Jobs to start Apple?

According to a new Bloomberg interview with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, the young Steve Jobs may have been inspired by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, among other books, in his ambitions with Apple.

Excerpts:

(at around 5:30)

INTERVIEWER: Steve, give us some insight into Steve Jobs’s personality and what it is about him that made him so ambitious and so driven to turn Apple around.

STEVE WOZNIAK: I can only speak to the early days. In the early days, he wanted to have a, you know, a success, and he wanted to be an important person in the world. And he wanted to do it by having a company that was successful and made money. And it sort of like evolved in those directions over time. He didn’t lose that part of his personality.

(around 9:00)

STEVE WOZNIAK: …And he did want to have a successful company, and he had a lot of ideas. He must’ve read some books that really were his guide in life, you know, and I think… Well, Atlas Shrugged might’ve been one of them that he mentioned back then. But they were his guides in life as to how you make a difference in the world. And it starts with a company. You build products and you gotta make your profit, and that allows you to invest the profit and then make better products that make more profit. I would say, how good a company is, it’s fair to measure it by its profitability.

If true, of course, Steve Jobs certainly wouldn’t be alone. Many entrepreneurs have been influenced by Ayn Rand’s novels to push for more entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s problems.

It sounds to me like Wozniak might be a bit of an Atlas Shrugged fan himself.

UPDATE – From Bob Maloney in a Facebook thread:

Mr. Jobs was at the same screening as I on opening night at Shoreline Theatres in Mtn. View a few months ago. I doubt he would have bothered to make it out to a busy opening night showing (especially as frail as he was) unless he was a fan of Atlas Shrugged.

About Joshua Zader

Joshua Zader is co-founder of Atlas Web Development and founder of The Atlasphere, a networking directory and dating service for admirers of Ayn Rand's novels with over 20,000 members from around the world.
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  • http://twitter.com/webmatros Oliver Nielsen

    Steve Jobs is the real life exemplification of Howard Roark of The Fountainhead. 100%.

  • http://twitter.com/webmatros Oliver Nielsen

    Steve Jobs is the real life exemplification of Howard Roark of The Fountainhead. 100%.

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  • Anonymous

    A great man in many ways, to be sure. But a fan of Atlas Shrugged? Perhaps many years ago. His rather obvious Progressive politics, and in particular admiration for Barack Obama, would suggest not for a long time. I think he went well beyond simply pragmatically dealing with D.C. to keep them out of his hair.

    I’d like to believe I was wrong about this but the evidence suggests otherwise.

  • JeffPerren

    A great man in many ways, to be sure. But a fan of Atlas Shrugged? Perhaps many years ago. His rather obvious Progressive politics, and in particular admiration for Barack Obama, would suggest not for a long time. I think he went well beyond simply pragmatically dealing with D.C. to keep them out of his hair.

    I’d like to believe I was wrong about this but the evidence suggests otherwise.

    • Derek Diaz

      Obviously Jobs had a mongrel philosophy. He had the good sense to recognize that Ayn Rand was right, but not enough sense or dedication to think the logic all the way through. Sadly. I would have loved him to be a full advocate of Objectivism.

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  • http://kiranatama.com/services/iphone-apps-development iphone developer

    I feel that the compelling contribution to society of Steve Jobs was bringing to the computer market products with innovative design.
    There is nothing in the world that works like a Macintosh computer.  Try as they have, nobody in the PC world has come close to emulating the user friendliness of the “Mac”.  Each and every product from Apple has represented a leap forward in design and functionality.  Each product (from computers to iPods and iPads) is invariably (and unsuccessfully) emulated by Apples worldwide competetors.  Even the packages in which Apple products are shipped are innovative, attractive and extremely clever.
    Paying attention to design is, in my opinion, the single most important contribution by Steve Jobs.
    As an unrelated and amusing aside, I read this week the following:
    “Ten years ago we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no jobs, we have no hope and we have no cash.”