Real Artists Ship

Steve Jobs? Andy Hertzfeld? Nicholas Callaway? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Developing and releasing a complicated product like a personal computer is an arduous task. Prominent business executive Steve Jobs employed the following adage to motivate the group designing the innovative Macintosh computer:

Real Artists Ship

Would you please explore this saying?

Quote Investigator: Andy Hertzfeld was a leading member of the Apple Macintosh development team which periodically held off-site retreats to mark progress and provide inspiration. The third occurred on January 27th and 28th, 1983 at the La Playa Hotel in Carmel, California. Hertzfeld asserted that Jobs employed the expression while addressing the team. Years later Hertzfeld started a website called folklore.org to share his memories, and the following excerpt is from the article titled “Credit Where Due”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Steve was fond of summarizing the themes of the day into a few succinct aphorisms, which he called “Quotations from Chairman Jobs”. The sayings from the previous retreat, held in September 1982, were “It’s Not Done Until It Ships”, “Don’t Compromise!” and “The Journey Is The Reward”. This time, they were “Real Artists Ship”, “It’s Better To Be A Pirate Than Join The Navy”, and “Mac in a Book by 1986”

The phrase “Quotations from Chairman Jobs” was wordplay based on the well-known book title “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung”.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. Website: Folklore.org, Article title: Credit Where Due, Article author: Andy Hertzfeld, Date of third retreat was January 27th and 28th, 1983, Timestamp of first comment on website article: April 18, 2004 03:26:32, Website description: “web site devoted to collective historical storytelling” with a focus on Apple computer company. (Accessed folklore.org on October 13, 2018) link