David Gelphman's Blog


2 Letters from Steve

During the 12+ years I worked at Apple I never met with Steve Jobs for work purposes. Of course like all Apple employees I saw Steve in Caffé Macs or walking with Jony Ive around the courtyard inside the Infinite Loop campus. And of course there were Comm meetings that he would run. But I didn’t have any direct contact. Until…
In March 2010, just a couple of weeks before the iPad was due to be released publicly, I had a reason to contact Steve. A friend of mine was dying of liver disease and I was going to San Francisco to hopefully see and communicate with her while it was still possible. She was a friend from my Adobe days and was very much into technology. I thought it would be a treat for her to see an iPad. And I had one. But until the product was officially released I could not show it to anyone without permission from Apple management.
There was no way I was going to take the iPad with me unless Steve personally approved it. I knew that asking anyone in my direct management chain was a non-starter. I knew that nobody would take the risk. Only in the higher levels of iOS development would they be able to approve such a request and it seemed like a waste of time to bother trying. The easy answer was “No” and that is what I would hear. Nobody would care. 
So I wrote Steve:
From: David Gelphman <gelphman@apple.com>
Subject: unusual request
Date: March 23, 2010 9:04:55 AM PDT
To: Steve Jobs <sjobs@apple.com>


Today (Tuesday) I’m visiting a terminally ill friend in the hospital in San Francisco. I’ve been told that she will likely not survive until this Friday. She had a liver transplant in late February and we all had high hopes but unfortunately she has not recovered.

Apple has given me carry permission for the [REDACTED] software for the iPad and I take Apple’s security very seriously. I was hoping to get permission from you to show her photos on the iPad even though it is not due to be released until April 3rd. Under normal circumstances I would not make such a request, nor would I expect that such a request might possibly be granted.

Thank you for considering this request.

David Gelphman

Stupidly, I had only thought of doing this at the last minute and didn’t really expect a reply, much less one in time to make a difference. Yet 3 minutes after I sent my email I got a response.

From: Steve Jobs <sjobs@apple.com>
Subject: Re: unusual request
Date: March 23, 2010 9:07:04 AM PDT
To: David Gelphman <gelphman@apple.com>


Sent from my iPhone
Words can’t express how happy I was to get this response. “OK”. Just two letters meant so much. At many keynotes Steve said: “This is why we do what we do”. And that day he was willing to let my friend be touched by what we do, even though it didn’t follow the rules. At that time in my career at Apple I was wondering about the heart of the company. This little interaction lifted my spirits greatly.
Sadly my friend was unconscious the whole time I was with her and the iPad stayed in my bag. Nobody there knew I had brought it. She died that day but I was so glad I was there with her when she passed. Being there was very moving. And so were Steve’s 2 letters.
CJ R.I.P., SJ R.I.P.