TODAY   |  October 06, 2011

Time magazine remembers an American icon

After learning of the death of Steve Jobs, Time Magazine literally stopped the presses for the first time in 20 years to put the tech visionary on the cover for the eighth time. Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel and NBC’s Tom Brokaw discuss Jobs’ life and legacy.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MATT LAUER, co-host: After learning of the death of Steve Jobs , Time magazine literally stopped the presses for the first time in 20 years to redo its latest issue. Here is a first look at the cover that will be on the newsstands tomorrow. We're joined now by Times managing editor Rick Stengel and NBC 's Tom Brokaw . Guys , good morning to both of you.

Mr. RICHARD STENGEL (Managing Editor, Time Magazine): Good morning.

LAUER: Picture of Jobs , 1984 , with an early Mac . What's the headline of the article, figuratively and literally?

Mr. STENGEL: "American Icon." The actual lead article is by Walter Isaacson , a former managing editor of Time who is now writing the great Steve Jobs biography with Steve 's cooperation, and he did a kind of summing up of what Steve represented, what he represented for society, for technology, and how he transformed everything.

LAUER: Is it appropriate, Tom , to say a sentence like "There will be the Henry Fords , the Thomas Edisons and the Steve Jobs of the world"? Does he fit in that group?

TOM BROKAW reporting: Indisputably. You know, four or 500 years from now, maybe even longer that that, they'll look back and Steve Jobs will be one of the defining figures of the technology that has absolutely transformed the world. It's created another universe that we could not have anticipated.

LAUER: Yeah, I was thinking of an experiment here. You're sitting with a crowd out in our plaza behind us, and if we were to say -- and they can hear us right now -- how many -- raise your hand if you have an iPod , an iPad , an iPhone. I mean, look at that.

Offscreen Voice: Hm.


LAUER: That's impact in a very real sense, Rick .

Mr. STENGEL: You know, it's interesting. He was not an inventor in a traditional sense. He didn't create anything out of nothing that hadn't existed before.

BROKAW: Right.

Mr. STENGEL: He found things that people were doing and he made them better. He had a passion for improving things so that it seemed that they were transformed.

LAUER: As a matter of fact, he commented about that. He said he liked to exist at the intersection of art and technology. He loved the cool factor. Tom , he said, 'What would it be like if everybody in the world drove a beige car? What fun would that be?'

Mr. STENGEL: Yeah.

BROKAW: Well, we got the first Mac in 1984 in our household. Our children were in junior high and in grade school at that time. The second night that we had it, I went down to my office, I woke up and there was a kid from the building who'd come up the backstairs to play on the Mac , and we just had a steady stream of them. About two days later the new CEO of IBM came to have an editorial board meeting with us here and I said, 'What about the Mac ?' He


LAUER: Not going to last.

BROKAW: No, not going to last.

LAUER: He was a perfectionist.


LAUER: I mean, he would look at a prototype and throw it out and demand another one until he was completely satisfied with the product.

Mr. STENGEL: He was a perfectionist. You know, the modern notion was form follows function, but for Steve , form became function. Form defined everything. He was -- he was obsessed with every little detail. I actually remember a few months ago when he came originally to show us the iPad , and I mentioned that I'd been to the store on the Upper West Side and he went into a whole different discussion, saying, 'You know, I got that marble from this quarry in Perugia and it was from the northwest corner. I wanted a particular kind of marble.' He talked about it for 15 minutes. He was -- he was an incredible perfectionist.

LAUER: Let me read you something from the Seattle Times editorial today. It says, quote, "The greatest lesson from Jobs ' career is to keep the doors open for people like him. The world needs to have opportunities for an adopted child raised by a working-class family. It needs to have second chances for people who drop out of college. It needs not cast out someone who would take LSD and travel to India and become a Buddhist . Job was -- Jobs was and did all of these things and he helped create the 21st century."

BROKAW: You know, I think he -- in a secular way, he was a terrific spiritual leader of our time. He was the kind of Dalai Lama of personal computers. If

I can read just one more line from that famous Stanford commencement address: "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice." That alone is a legacy of Steve Jobs , especially at this time.

LAUER: He said he wanted to put a ding in the universe. Do we even have any idea yet, Rick , how big a ding he put in the universe?

Mr. STENGEL: Well, you know, the notion that Einstein and others have said is that the universe ultimately is simple. That was Steve 's philosophy. Simplicity was the beauty that he was always striving for, and that's why he was a perfectionist. You probably can never reach it, but it's a great aspiration.

LAUER: All right.

BROKAW: You know, Matt , when I was a kid I was a jukebox nut. This is my jukebox at my age. Thank you, Steve Jobs .