Steve Jobs' Last Words


By Tim Moran

"A Sister's Eulogy for Steve Jobs," by Mona Simpson, proved wildly popular when published in the New York Times. Writer Peggy Orenstein said she wept when she read it because it demonstrated "the rare public declaration by a sister of love for her brother." Indeed it did; truly from-the-heart stuff.

What it also brought out to the public are Jobs's last words. You probably have read about this by now, but if you haven't, you might be in for a surprise.

Famous last words have long been a literary and historical staple. School children know--or, at least, knew--Nathan Hale's oft-quoted "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." On the literary side, who does not recall the words Charles Dickens put into the mouth of Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." Great stuff.

Famous last words are so popular that there's even a book, titled Last Words of Notable People, in which is recorded the deathbed musings of 3500 souls throughout history. Some are metaphysical ("Now comes the mystery." Henry Beecher Ward), while some are flippant ("God bless. . .God damn." James Thurber). Still others are poetic (". . .the fog is rising." Emily Dickinson), and quite a few are terse ("Goodnight." George Gordon, Lord Byron).

And then there's Steve Jobs. According to his sister's report of his last minutes, what the amazing, visionary, brilliant Apple creator said was: "OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW" (her and the Times's capitals, not mine).

What is there to say about this? It's not really metaphysical, although those words have been uttered by a gazillion pot smokers over the decades. It's kind of terse, but not really flippant. And it is decidedly not poetic. One truly does wonder what the iconic Steve Jobs saw and/or thought at the moment of his demise that made him thrice repeat "OH WOW" as his last words on earth.

To my mind, better he had taken the path to dying words that was trod by Mexican revolutionary general Francisco "Pancho" Villa: "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something." All I can say about Jobs's last words is, MAN, OH, MAN.