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.

Author: David Gelphman

cat lover, horse lover, very fortunate person

100 thoughts on “2 Letters from Steve

  1. Really heart touching story, thanks for sharing


  3. Dear Mr. David ,

    first of all – sorry for my bad english .
    You are a real Hero . I was crying reading the Story about your Friend . During the most important time of your personal Life you did not care about your Job . Your Friend was “NUMERO UNO” in your life .
    Steve Jobs replied : “OK ”

    “OK” – means -confidence- sympathy – love and so much more .

    so bad , my lovely Wife has incurable breast cancer . I will do it your way .

    God bless both of you:)

    Frank Strathmeier

  4. Heart touching.. Thanks for sharing David.. My condolences to your friend and SJ.

  5. Nice story, was touched. Good reading.

  6. Just amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I really love Steve Jobs and I’ll always remember him as a role model for myself.
    Good luck

  8. Wow, what a great piece. I meet Steve Jobs once, and I will always remember that encounter. Thanks!

  9. Thank you very much for sharing this…. This is really the true action of love.

  10. Wow! This is why you are still much loved by me. What a wonderful and thoughtful idea. Thank you! Sally

  11. Hi, David, that’s a very good story. And now that Scott has pointed out your blog, I know where to find you. It’s been a while. Hope you’re well.

    • Thanks Steve. Indeed it has been a while. Twenty years ago this June is when I started at General Magic. My hair color is different but I haven’t torn it all out yet.

      Which Scott pointed out my blog? I’m not sure who you mean.

      BTW I’m tempted to tell the story of the team meeting when Steve P. left General Magic. I hope the Statute of Limitations has run out on that.

  12. Thanks. I don’t know what to say in addition. It’s an amazing story.

  13. L’ha ribloggato su Blogger di Cortesiae ha commentato:
    Lacrime.. That’s it

  14. Really good- thanks for sharing!

  15. Reblogged this on Jimmy Hartington and commented:
    En måske uventet side af Steve Jobs.

  16. Thanks for sharing the anecdote. Good read!

  17. Incredible story! Made me close to crying. Amazing. Thank you for sharing. Thank you. And feeling sad about your friend.

  18. God bless both of them

  19. Great people do small things with great impact.

  20. There are many, many uncomplimentary stories concerning Steve Jobs. Yours was a delightful change to constant Jobs-bashing. Well done he. Well done you. God bless them both.

  21. Reblogged this on GiGiWellness28 and commented:
    I started my first post 8 months ago and 8 months later, WordPress is still a maze to me. Earlier today, I scrolled down my Dashboard page & found “What’s Hot”, which has four tabs – “WordPress.com News”, “Top Blogs”, “Top Posts” & “Latest”. I just randomly clicked “Top Posts” and the title “2 Letters from Steve” caught my eyes. I didn’t know who’s Steve and definitely didn’t expect what this post was about. So simple yet powerful, so I’ve decided to share it with anyone that would come visit my Blog.
    Have a glorious day 😀

  22. Powerful, really touching story.

  23. An amazing and uplifting story of how a three minute interaction between two individuals, worlds apart, can make a lifetime impact. I’m sure this story adds to the already rich and sometime controversial legend of the late incomparable Steve Jobs. When I saw the introduction of the IPAD event, I noticed how slim he was, and how paled he looked, yet he managed to get through the unveiling of the IPAD event without a glitch.

    He was so excited and proud in introducing to the world this awesome new product that has absolutely transformed people’s lives and made it easy for us to interact with handheld computers at a very simple level. My guess is, this was the same feeling he had, even in a brief moment to ponder, when he responded “OK” to your request. Had you never worked up the nerves to ask, we would not have had the pleasure to enjoy this story, your story, and to be encouraged and challenged by it, however brief, especially knowing that the world we live in is full of sad and disheartening headlines.

    Thank you for brightening my day with this “2 letters from Steve”. David, thanks for being with your friend in her time of departure. It takes a person with courage and heart to sit through such a dramatic and very difficult time, especially in the face of death. Your action fully demonstrates true friendship! You have given many of us a chance to reflect upon our own lives, to ponder about who we are as people, as a person, and how we all can aspire to do for another what you did for your friend. That’s what make your story so special for me.

    I don’t know you David, but I feel somewhat connected with you through this letter. There are many difficult challenges that lie ahead for all of us, but I feel like my journey has become a little more bearable, a little more tolerant, and a little more pleasant to travel thanks to you. Thanks!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I do think you know me, at least a part of me, and that is very gratifying and inspiring.

  24. Reblogged this on My writing & My world and commented:
    Heart Touching story..

  25. I do not have proper words to express my feelings. Great writing. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  26. God rest both their souls..

  27. Heart touching..I dont have proper words to express my feelings. Thank you for sharing this incident.

  28. Reblogged this on Himanshu SHRM and commented:
    Wow. Just wow.

  29. Reblogged this on Semiconductor Product Marketing and commented:
    Perhaps Steve Job’s own health condition compelled him to be more compassionate about other critically ill people. Even a simple “OK” touched so many people. Not sure if Steve Job realized that his approval lifted the spirits of an Apple employee!

  30. Very touchy

    Sometime unusual stuff happens and sometime usual stuff doesn’t.The first is due to great people and second is due to fools.


  31. Most people don’t realize it, but the fact he responded in a 3 minute span is what makes the story even more amazing.

    He probably just saw the email, read it, and without much thought replied with the OK.

    I was speaking with a very good friend of mine about this… At the end of it all, people are just people. Even exceptional ones. Steve wasn’t an alien from a distant planet, distant from his emotions. On the contrary, Steve’s understanding and connection with emotions and humanity is what made his vision great and what made it happen. These two words support that testament.

    My condolences my friend. I’m happy you published this, I couldn’t have asked for a more uplifting morning.

  32. Dear Mr David,
    More than Mr Steeve, I was touched with your way of expression. You are a great person by heart.
    I am touched.

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