Apple's Former Safari Chief Don Melton Reflects on Steve Jobs

jobs_poseDon Melton has a long history with Steve Jobs and Apple, working at NeXT and then moving to Apple where he is known for his work on Safari and WebKit. To commemorate Steve Jobs' birthday earlier this year, Melton recounted his memorable encounters with Jobs in a post he recently published on his blog.

Melton was not a confidant of Jobs, just an employee who had the opportunity to be around the Apple co-founder on occasion. Jobs likely thought of Melton as the “Safari Guy” and knew Melton's real name, which was considered an honor.

Melton recounts the first time he met Steve Jobs at a NeXT presentation in the late 80s that unfortunately was scheduled during everyone's lunch break. Like many encounters with Jobs, Melton remembered Jobs' demeanor, but not a word of what he said.

Obviously he wanted us to quiet down. You could tell because he paused several times for us to hush ourselves. And out of respect, awe, and probably some fear, we all tried our best to do so. But, dammit, the room was now packed and that many people just swallowing food makes a lot of noise. Sitting so close, I felt especially self-conscious.

Who the hell scheduled him to speak at that time? Knucklehead. It’s entirely possible that person was taken out later and shot.

Anyway, I do remember Steve’s seriousness and apparent impatience that day. But not a thing he said.

Melton paints Jobs not as a "mercurial ogre or cartoon autocrat," but as a very busy CEO with little time for “yes men,” timid employees or those who didn't know what they were doing.

Steve expected excellence. Which is why he so often got it.

He knew when something was right, but he didn’t always tell you what he wanted when it wasn’t. And he was very clear when he didn’t like it. Some misinterpreted this behavior as being overly critical, but it was actually time-saving clarity, albeit uncomfortable on occasion.

Melton has several interesting tidbits about his work on Safari, including Jobs' distaste for the stand-alone bookmarks window in the web browser and the decision to add a page load indication into Safari's address bar, a design decision that eventually hurt Safari's reputation because the "in-your-face progress bar made it seem slower to the user."

Beyond his work persona, Melton also shares some stories about the personal side of Jobs, the real man who has children and, at one point, a cranky new puppy. Melton ends his story with his somber memories of Steve in his final years, dealing with a disease that "had ravaged him." Melton's piece is long, but worth a read for his insight into a corporate leader who was intense, but also real.

Top Rated Comments

Dulcimer Avatar
111 months ago
The world would be a much better place if we were all a little more Steve Jobs.

He was a visionary tech leader, but come on… Steve Jobs was far from a personal role model.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Peace Avatar
111 months ago
He was a visionary tech leader, but come on… Steve Jobs was far from a personal role model.
I thought he was a great role model. As did his wife and kids I'm guessing.

If the world had more CEO's that were interested in the product more than how much money they made the world would be a lot better off.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Crosscreek Avatar
111 months ago
The vision has been lost since he has been gone.

The bean counters have taken it over. :(
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Essex711 Avatar
111 months ago
I believe a lot of people mistake Jobs in your face atitude for arrogance, however as Melton points out it was instant feedback, and when you have the company you created falling apart you are going to give as much feedback as quick as possible to regain the credit you deserved in starting that successful company. Sj's business savvy has been inspiration to me, I often look at the way Apple became so successful and apply that to everyday situations. More companies are today too, this is awesome IMHO. I hope more people continue to follow their lead.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michaelgtrusa Avatar
111 months ago
We all miss him 
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Firelock Avatar
111 months ago
Sorry to disagree. As a small business owner who is understand staff and need to get things done fast and perfect SJ is a role model. How else is he suppose to run a hugh corporation? Being nice and baby sit his staffs? At Apple's level you either belong at that level or you don't.

I've worked in business a long time, too, and I don't see any reason not to treat people with respect and have a professional demeanor at all times. To each their own, I suppose. Glad I don't work for you.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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