'If you need a stylus, you've already failed!' Steve Jobs' thoughts on the Apple Pencil

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"Who wants a stylus?" Steve Jobs asked the MacWorld crowd in 2007 when unveiling the first iPhone.

Apple CEO Tim Cook today decided to answer his predecessor's eight-year-old question with a resounding "Everyone who will spend money on the Apple Pencil." Illustrators, architects, and everyone else, throw that Microsoft Surface in the trash: An official Apple stylus, once considered an impossibility, is coming to the market.


Yes, Apple introduced its own stylus on Wednesday, the latest in a series of products that company executives once claimed they would never produce.

And what's wrong with styluses? Let's return to Jobs:

"You have to get them and put them away," Jobs said in 2007. "Yaacccch," he said, giving his final thoughts on the matter. "Nobody wants a stylus."


The iPhone had touch screen technology; the stylus was dead because most humans roll off the assembly line with ten pointing devices built in. Competitors like Palm were including styluses with their devices  and Apple distinguished itself, at the time, by publicly forsaking them.

Before his death, Jobs, at another event, said "handwriting [is] probably the slowest input method ever invented. It was doomed to failure." Jobs shied away from stylus-based hardware because the competition was doing it. "If you need a stylus, you've already failed," Jobs said.


"If you see a stylus," Jobs famously said at yet another event, "they blew it."


He said that by throwing the stylus out while developing what became the iPad, Apple was forced into developing new software. Steve Jobs didn't care for styluses, it appears. He thought they were a crutch and hindered innovation. He must've remembered the Newton.

Now, Apple appears to have either changed its collective mind or given in. You can purchase the "Apple Pencil" for just $99—a bargain, perhaps, for those who want physical proof of a company that has changed with the times.


David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: david.matthews@fusion.net