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Steve Jobs Archive Unveiled to Honor Apple Co-Founder, as iPhone 14 Arrives

The online archive will preserve Jobs' worldview and ideas, along with artifacts and other materials.

Four people sit in the Code Conference's iconic red chairs to discuss Steve Jobs
At Code 2022, Recode's Kara Swisher (from left) led a discussion featuring Jony Ive, Laurene Powell Jobs and Tim Cook.
David Lumb / CNET

On the same day the iPhone 14 was unveiled, the crowning event of the Code 2022 conference was the announcement of a permanent online memorial to Steve Jobs, Apple's iconic co-founder and longtime CEO.

On Wednesday, Recode's Kara Swisher led Apple current Apple CEO Tim Cook, former lead product designer Jony Ive and Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs in a warm discussion of his lasting impact that now includes a website devoted to the tech legend called the Steve Jobs Archive.

The archive is being created by an archivist and lead historian who consulted with Powell Jobs, Cook, Ive and others who worked with Jobs over the years. While the archive's online presence doesn't have much right now beyond a few of the tech icon's more famous speeches, it will eventually display more artifacts and materials that reflect his philosophy. 

It's "much more about ideas," Powell Jobs said, especially Jobs' notion that understanding how human design governs our lives means you can change it, interrogate it and stretch it to make human progress.

"Everything that you're born into, the design of everything around you, the clothes that you wear, all of these decisions were made by someone else," Powell Jobs said. "As humans, we have a responsibility to put things back into that pool of human existence in a way that benefits us."

For instance, the first item that greets visitors is this email Jobs sent in late 2010, roughly a year before he died. 

Text from an email sent by Steve Jobs in September 2010 explaining his reliance on objects, clothes, food, and medical treatment he did not himself create or invent.

An email from Steve Jobs about his dependence on a human-designed world.

Steve Jobs Archive

The Steve Jobs Archive will live online along with some programs and other products. Among the collection will be memories of Apple's co-founder culled from interviews of hundreds of people who knew him. There will also be a body of stuff that's "just Steve," as Ive described, which will help folks get the sense of how he saw the world.

While rich with stories and notions about who Jobs was and the legacy he left, the announcement of the archive was the only bit of news from the discussion. Powell Jobs spoke of when he came back to Apple in 1997 and hewed its large product line down to just four models and of his power to say "no" -- not just to bad ideas but to great ones that didn't fit. 

"It speaks to the clarity and crispness of his thinking, and making those four things the best things on the planet," Powell Jobs said. "He talked about leaving behind a body of work the way an artist does."

Jobs' vision for Apple was at the intersection of liberal arts and technology, Cook explained, noting that those who followed have deliberately chosen not to make decisions how he would have made them (at Jobs' own request), but they kept the company at that crossroads of human-inspired design.

"We always think about the humanity of the story of the person behind the product," Cook said. 

Despite Apple's turnaround success in the 2000s, Jobs could still be surprised. Apple's co-founder had always assumed vicariously that his work would have enormous influence. But Ive recalled one day at lunch, the volume of the iPod Nanos sold in the world struck Jobs in a new way -- that they were all directly touching people. 

"It thrilled him, not because the goal was huge volume, but to be so relevant," Ive said.