Steve’s ‘manila’ moment: His enduring legacy


By Winston A. Marbella

The images linger on my mind: Steve Jobs walking confidently on stage for Apple’s latest product launch.  Only this time, he was not carrying any product.  Instead, he had tucked under his armpit a regular-sized manila envelope.

In due time, he emptied the envelope.  The audience gasped and held its breath.  Out came a gleaming gadget in a shade of aluminum, thin, elegant, light.

Jobs said it was the thinnest, lightest, most elegant laptop ever produced, light years ahead otf its time. The audience stood in awe; nobody would have believed otherwise.

In fact, Sony had introduced a thinner, lighter model two years ahead,  But it had cost twice as much, so nobody took notice.  And they did not have Steve Jobs to market it.

The event persists in my mind not because of the MacBok Air – although it was remarkable – but because Jobs had used a manila envelope – a MANILA envelope! – to stress the obvious.  Now perhaps the world will start using that word again with a capital “M.”

There he was at center stage, an icon of the technological age, unveiling the latest  device from probably the most iconic brand in technology, and using a product originally  made in the Philippines, to drive home his point.


Jobs had launched with as much hoopla the iPhone with a tactile, touch-sensitive face in the summer of 2007.  It had taken the world by storm.

Then, three months later, he launched the latest-generation iPod, an iPhone without a phone (!) but with a the same touch-sensitive face.  Both were smashing successes.

Together with iTunes and The Apple Store, these products marked the second coming of Jobs to Apple, the company he co-founded, which he had departed earlier after fiery disagreements with the board over the path Apple was to take to the future.

Jobs had cashed in his shares and bought a small company which he rebuilt with a small group of Apple employees.  That company became Pixar, and it revolutionized the film industry by using computer animation to bring us such blockbusters as “Toy Story.”

Apple floundered and, realizing its folly, the board invited Jobs back to put Apple back on track. They bought his company and made him Chief Executive Officer once again. Steve just wanted an annual salary of one dollar.


In recounting what happened afterward, it is hard to separate fact from fiction, but the story is still worth retelling because Steve Jobs and Apple are mythical characters.

It is said that in its first meeting after the board hired him back, it had asked Jobs to spell out his vision for Apple.  Here the story goes magical.

Jobs reportedly put together prototypes of products that were in the pipeline, glued them to the four walls of the board room, and trashed them one by one until only three were left.  These three products, Jobs told the board, will be the future of Apple.

The three were the iPhone, the iPod, and the iPad.  Today, these devices touch the lives of hundreds of  millions of consumers as they trek a brave, new world into the future.

                                Most valuable company

Hundreds of millions of those products have been sold to make Apple the most valuable technology company in the world, now surpassing another icon, Microsoft.  For brief periods, Apple even surpassed Exxon Mobil as the most valuable company in the world.

Last August, Jobs, 56, announced he was stepping down as Chief Executive.  Many took the news with sadness, but almost everyone knew it was coming.  Jobs had survived an often-termina pancreatic cancer and, later, a kidney transplant.

He had taken medical leaves sporadically (one observer said he had been at work only three months the past year).  But he had put Apply firmly back on course and its future seemed secure.

At the launch of the second generation iPad early this year, Jobs had looked gaunt in his signature black turtleneck, faded jeans, and tattered sneakers.  He took the time to paint us a view of what he called the  “Post-PC World.”  It took him only 229 words!

Technology wed to liberal arts

“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” Jobs said.  “It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that give us the results that make our hearts sing….”

Perhaps nobody thought Jobs was delivering his valedictory as well.  But he might just as well have been.

Clearly he was closing the PC world he had impacted so boldly, and he could see the dawning of a new age, and that Apple was back on track.  After all, wasn’t it Apple that had said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”?

In a letter of resignation that closed an era, Jobs informed the board that he would like to stay on as Chairman, a job that had not been filled before perhaps in anticipation of this day, as a director, and as an employee.

He surely intended to be around, but he was leaving his day-to-day duties to an able team, people who had worked with him all these years.

When he had fallen ill, he recalled, he had told the board he would be the first to let them know if he was unable to meet his duties as Chief Executive.

“Unfortunately, that day has come,“ he said with sadness. He said his thank-yous to friends and colleagues and signed his letter simply as “Steve.”

Now he is gone.



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