Steve Jobs Hated Function Keys

I can’t wait to get my hands on Apple’s new Touch Bar. Now a dynamic display replaces the function keys on top of MacBook Pro’s keyboard. The last time Apple shipped a keyboard without function keys was way back in 1984.

Steve Jobs didn’t like function keys and made sure they didn’t appear on Macintosh’s keyboard. A couple of years later Apple was in panic mode trying to stop the IBM PC from owning the entire computer market. Rather than making strategic decisions with a focus on Macintosh’s stellar user experience, strategists opted for half measures. Adding F-Keys to Apple’s keyboards would make them as businessy IBM’s, so that was a given. Obviously, that’s all the saving Apple would need. Somehow it didn’t work.

Steve didn’t sign many autographs, but Steve Jurvetson got lucky one day when he asked him to sign an Apple Extended Keyboard. What happened next is documented in Alan Deutschman’s The Second Coming of Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs said he’d do it, but only if first he could remove all the unnecessary keys that his successors had added in a foolish effort to make the Mac more like a Microsoft-Intel PC. He despised the long row of so-called function keys. […] So Steve Jobs pulled his car keys out of his pocket and began scooping into the computer keyboard, violently disgorging all the keys that offended him. “I’m changing the world one keyboard at a time”, he said with a straight face. Only then, when he had mutilated the apparatus, did he take a pen and scribble his autograph on it.

In time these keys pulled double duty with functions for the changing screen brightness, volume, and controlling music. Honestly, how many of you ever used them for their proper F-ing purpose?

Happy Mac

Sometimes the clothes
do not make the man.