Letters from Steve: 'If I Succeed, Call Yourself an #$%& for Me’

I love this one: some folks may not remember, but rumors started up in 1996 that Steve Jobs might team up with Oracle Larry Ellison to buy Apple, or maybe Mr. Ellison was simply going to buy Apple so his buddy could run it again.

Letters from Steve

Many people thought this sounded awful. Steve Jobs was kind of a mess when he left Apple, and they thought he'd make a mess of things if he came back to the company, too.

This might be hard to reconcile with hindsight. In reality, Mr. Jobs saved Apple, brought in a team that reinvented the Mac, ushered in the iPod, launched iTunes, forever changed mobile phones and showed the world that a tablet was useful after all.

Nonetheless, it was true at the time. Many people were wary of Steve Jobs. Heck, even when he did come back in the form of Apple buying NeXT, I personally penned the following gem (forever enshrined as Apple Death Knell #9): "Mr. Jobs, go back to Pixar and make movies, I think you have done enough to 'save' Apple."

What got me thinking about this was a 1996 email exchange between Steve Jobs and a person who had pleaded with him to stay away from Apple. Mactrast highlighted the exchange Monday, but BusinessInsider first published it in November of 2012.

Michell Smith had written to Mr. Jobs saying, "'Please,' I implored him, 'don't come back to Apple, you'll ruin it.'"

Mr. Jobs wrote back, as he was wont to do, explaining that he wanted to save the company. According to Mr. Smith, he also explained how he would try to do it, though he didn't offer any details in his explanation to BI.

And then he wrote the words I'll never forget:

"You may be right. But if I succeed, remember to look in the mirror and call yourself an asshole for me."

Consider it done, Steve. I could not have been more mistaken.

You weren't alone, Mr. Smith. Lots of us were wrong, and just like you, we couldn't be more pleased by how wrong we were. Plus, that exchange is sort of Steve Jobs in a nutshell.

If you didn't catch the BusinessInsider article when it came out, it's worth a looksee now. It features ten stories from people who had some kind of interaction with Steve Jobs when he was alive. They're all interesting, and some of them are very cool.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.