Steve Jobs & the Power of Vision: My Visits to the ‘Reality Distortion Field’

10/6/11

Steve was an incredible product visionary and had an uncompromising sense of product design. Aldus and desktop publishing came about because Steve had a vision of what was possible by marrying a plain paper copier to a computer to make the Apple Laserwriter.

When the Laserwriter was introduced it cost $7000, more than twice as much as the HP Laserjet. And there were no applications that could make the Laserwriter do anything more than the Laserjet could do.

But the potential was there and PageMaker unlocked it. Steve brought a product to market knowing that someone would take advantage of it, but not knowing who that would be.

I remember Steve as the most persuasive person I ever met. We used to joke about it. After a meeting with Steve, during which you would be totally convinced of whatever he was telling you, we’d walk out of the building and look at each other and realize there were flaws in his logic that were unseeable while he was speaking. We called meeting with Steve “entering the reality-distortion field.”

Regardless of the flaws in his arguments, his vision was more right than not. The sales pitch to third parties—like Aldus—was often self-serving and we didn’t always listen. But he was always working to advance his vision and could be very persuasive in getting third parties like us on board.

I remember his unhappiness when we decided to port PageMaker to Windows. We had a frosty relationship for a year or so at that time. But desktop publishing was so important to Apple—many believe it saved the company—that we worked through it.

History will look kindly on Steve. As I write this on my iPad connected to the Internet through my iPhone on a ship in the middle of the Adriatic, I think his vision for mobile computing is just coming into being. We will be talking about Steve’s impact on the world for a long time.

Jeremy Jaech is a serial technology entrepreneur who co-founded Visio and Aldus. Follow @

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