People are always trying to put themselves into the head of Apple founder Steve Jobs, to figure out how he thought. Unfortunately, Jobs was pretty inscrutable, but here’s one fun way to at least figuratively get inside Steve’s brain: to fly through a neuron-like mapping of Apple’s many patents, many of which Jobs is credited with as an inventor.
After his death of pancreatic cancer in 2011, Steve Jobs left behind a library of design patents in his name, from a 1983 patent simply titled ‘”Personal Computer” to the glass cube of the 5th Avenue Apple Store. Along with various other Apple designers and engineers, Jobs has been co-named on at least 458 design or technology patents, a full third of which have been awarded posthumously.
That got self-described innovation mapper André Vermeij thinking. Looking to make sense of Apple’s huge patent portfolio, he decided to visualize Apple’s many innovations through their connection to Steve Jobs. Vermeij explains his visualization this way:
The visualisation above shows that Apple’s full technology portfolio is composed of clearly identifiable clusters of inventors and related technologies. The top part of the light blue cluster at the left consists of Apple’s industrial design team, led by Jony Ive – the bottom part is mainly composed of patents and inventors relating to mobile device components. Steve Jobs served as the key connector between the left and right parts of the network, by connecting the dark blue cluster at the right (which consists of all things related to user interfaces and operating systems) to the design and mobile devices cluster. The red cluster at the right is largely focused on iTunes, while the small purple cluster on the far right is composed of Apple’s experts and patents in data encryption and security.
Basically, then, if this big nebula of patents represents Apple’s brain, with all of its different lobes and hemispheres, and right in the middle is the stem, Steve Jobs himself. When Steve Jobs died, they may not have saved his brain, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still study it.