You know the look: Black turtleneck tucked into a belt-less pair of crinkled Levis 501s and sneakers. Vintage Steve Jobs. In 1997, shortly after realigning himself with the company he founded, Steve Jobs wore a black vest, white shirt, and wool slacks to give his first Keynote Address at Macworld Boston. The formlessness was a little awkward as he announced Microsoft would be buying $150 Million in Apple stock, so the next year he went for something a little more comfortable. And with that wardrobe choice, a style icon -- as geeky as it may be -- was born. With one of the great cultural sculptors of our era announcing that he's stepping down from the throne at Apple, it seems appropriate to reflect on Jobs's various choices in footwear during his tenure as Zen Jedi Commander in Cheif of All Technology As We Know It.
Once upon a time, during the early years of Apple and perhaps even while working for Atari, Jobs cruised around California on a BMW motorcycle. This photo originally ran in a 1982 National Geographic article titled “High Tech, High Risk, and High Life in Silicon Valley," in which Jobs notes he wants Apple to be the "Volkswagen" of the personal computing industry. So, what was Jobs like in 1982? Here's an excerpt: “For us, computers have always been around,” Jobs stated, “That’s what separates us guys from you guys. You were born B.C.—Before Computers. And it’s because of this place. I was born here. When I was 14,1 was asking famous computer engineers here questions. Apple came out of the microprocessor, created in this valley just five miles from here.” In plaid shirt and jeans, he still prefers, as a friend said, “to drive his motorcycle to my place, sit around and drink wine, and talk about what we’re going to do when we grow up.” The footwear choice? A simple, sturdy pair of boots.
Classic Adidas Low-Top Superstars
Though New Balances with black socks appear to be Jobs' go-to, they weren't always the only sneakers in his closet. Clearly he wasn't concerned about burning his ankles on his bike. In footage from a documentary in 2010, he's pictured wearing a pair of classic Adidas Superstars. Sock-less, of course. How cavalier.
Sperry Boat Shoes
Jobs isn't the type of man who wears a suit often, but when he does, it looks like this. Over the years, Jobs and Bill Gates have crossed paths numerous times, including a groundbreaking discussion at All Things Digital 5 in 2007. There are other pictures of the pair together in 1991, when Gates paid a visit to Jobs’ home during his tenure with NeXT computers. Here's an even older photo of the Silicon Valley power pair, with Jobs looking rather Brotastic in those Sperrys.
2001 MacWorld and iPod Unveiling Mystery Black Shoes
2001 was a watershed year for Apple. For starters, the company rolled out the iBook G3. However, 2001 was also the year Apple revolutionized the music industry with the iPod and iTunes. Jobs broke the mold with his choice of footwear for this historic, earthshaking occasion, opting for a mysterious pair of black sneakers. Though we're not completely sure on the specs, our guess is New Balance 574s or 556s, since they don't appear to have the white sole of black New Balance 991 or 576s. Just a note: Shortly after MacWorld New York in 2001, he was back to the 991s when he unveiled the first ever Apple Store in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Here's the flashback.
Mark Parker became Nike's current CEO back in 2006. Shortly after taking the captain's chair at the sportswear behemoth, he called Jobs -- his buddy -- for some advice. Carmine Gallo at Forbes recounted the conversation this past May: “Do you have any advice?” Parker asked Jobs. “Well, just one thing,” said Jobs. “Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.” Parker said Jobs paused and Parker filled the quiet with a chuckle. But Jobs didn’t laugh. He was serious. “He was absolutely right,” said Parker. “We had to edit.” As companies, Apple and Nike obviously have a very close relationship, including that Nike+iPod partnership that started in 2006, shortly after Parker joined Nike. Here's Jobs looking very Joe Paterno-esque with black Nikes at the announcement.
2011 Keynote Mystery Black Shoes
Heads turned again at this past March's Apple Special Event 2011, where Jobs unveiled the iPad 2. Just like 10 years ago at the unveiling of the iPod, he was wearing black shoes again. A tell-tale sign of widespread changes at Apple, including his exit? That's a stretch, but sometimes history is in the details.
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