Steve Jobs inspired by Atlas Shrugged when he started 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.


(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.

7 thoughts on “Steve Jobs inspired by Atlas Shrugged when he started Apple?

  1. Of course he was influenced by Atlas Shrugged.  In my experience, every true, sucessful entrepreneur that I have ever known or done business with, loves what Atlas Shrugged represents and have found a way to incorporate its principals (mainly objectivism) into our business and personal life.  Also in my experience, the only people that I have ever heard criticize any of Ms. Rand’s work, were, well…, looters and second-handers.  A = A. It is really that simple.

    1. A=A? Bwahaha! That statement is a useful logical axiom but it is utterly useless when discussing anything in the real world. In the physical world, no two As are the same. Ever.

      Outside of a tiny, tiny minority of postmodernists who deserve little more than derision and mockery, nobody denies that A=A. Rather, what I argue is that those two objects you are pointing to are different, and the differences are relevant. When I disagree with you about the equivalency of two physical objects or two concepts, I am not denying the logical axiom that A=A. Rather, I am denying that these two concepts are identical in the manner required for logical axioms to apply.

      A=A may be true, but to choose an example that I’ve seen (not sure if it was by an Objectivist or not), it’s ridiculous to claim music piracy = theft. You can argue music piracy ~= theft. You can’t argue that the two are absolute equivalents in a logical sense.

      To summarize: Anybody who uses “A=A” and expects a useful conclusion in real-world applied philosophy is an ignorant fool.

      1. Anonymous

        A=A is just symbolism. You can’t prove anything without some insight. I don’t understand why anybody would debate a proof.

        1. Jacob: Could you clarify your remarks a bit?

          I think of A=A as a logical axiom. What do you think it is symbolism for?

          You don’t understand why people would debate proofs? I can only speak for myself, but I enjoy formal logic and mathematics. Reading through something clever like a novel zero knowledge proof is fun and enjoyable to me. 

          Are you disagreeing with me? Do you think that A=A is meaningful outside of mathematics? Are there people outside of a fringe of postmodernists who deny A=A?

      2. gopiballava: A = A is a summation of Aristotle’s three laws of thought. It is in fact not only an equation but also symbolizes that those out of touch with reality are mentally inconsistent. Reality = Reality. Any deviation from that is suicide. A = A is the same as ‘it is what it is’, (homes). 

  2. Ayn Rand in general, and Atlas Shrugged in particular, are responsible for turning more people into a**holes than any other philosophy/author or book in history. Well, maybe The Bible comes close.

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