Reality distortion field

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2024-06-05 07:00:06

Reality distortion field (RDF) is a term first used by Bud Tribble at Apple Computer in 1981, to describe company co-founder Steve Jobs's charisma and its effects on the developers working on the Macintosh project.[1] Tribble said that the term came from the Star Trek[1] episode "The Menagerie", in which it is used to describe how the aliens encountered by the crew of the starship Enterprise created their own new world through mental force.

In the book Steve Jobs, biographer Walter Isaacson states that around 1972, while Jobs was attending Reed College, Robert Friedland "taught Steve the reality distortion field." The RDF was said by Andy Hertzfeld to be Jobs's ability to convince himself, and others around him, to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence. It was said to distort his co-workers' sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and to make them believe that whatever impossible task he had at hand was possible. Jobs could also use the reality distortion field to appropriate others' ideas as his own, sometimes proposing an idea back to its originator, only a week after dismissing it.[1]

The term has been used to refer to Jobs's keynote speeches ("Stevenotes") by observers and devoted users of Apple computers and products,[2] and derisively by Apple's competitors in criticisms of Apple. On Research In Motion's official BlackBerry blog, Jim Balsillie introduced a blog post by saying "For those of us who live outside of Apple's distortion field".[3]

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