Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs’ yacht launches — without Steve

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Steve Jobs' yacht was designed by Philippe Starck.
Steve Jobs' distinctive yacht was designed by Philippe Starck.
Photo: Willem Oldenburg

October 28: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs' yacht launches -- without Steve October 28, 2012: More than a year after Steve Jobs’ death, the luxury yacht he commissioned is finally shown off for the first time, launched from a shipyard in North Holland.

Called Venus, the distinctive-looking yacht was one of the big personal projects Jobs pursued in his last years. As he told biographer Walter Isaacson, “I have to keep going on it. If I don’t, it’s an admission that I’m about to die.”

Sadly, Jobs never lived to see the finished vessel.

The yacht was the product of six years of design and construction work. Despite the Apple co-founder’s vast fortune, many who knew him personally registered surprised that such a project would appeal to him. Even Jobs himself denied desiring such a craft.

There’s no yacht in my future,” he told journalist John Markoff in 1980.

As Jobs later told Isaacson, however, the yacht represented something: a confidence that he would be able to overcome his health troubles. He began working on it around 2008, just prior to his liver transplant.

Steve Jobs’ yacht design

The $118 million, 256-foot yacht proved somewhat divisive in terms of its design. Although it is the work of renowned French designer Philippe Starck, it bears Jobs’ and Apple’s fingerprints. Jobs recruited the chief designer of the Apple stores to create a special glass for the vessel. And while on board, the owner could control the Venus via a row of 27-inch iMacs.

“As expected, the planned yacht was sleek and minimalist,” Isaacson wrote. “The teak decks were perfectly flat and unblemished by any accoutrements. As at an Apple store, the cabin windows were large panes, almost floor to ceiling, and the main living area was designed to have walls of glass that were forty feet long and ten feet high.”

Jobs’ widow, Laurene, attended the October 28, 2012, launch of the yacht. (So did his children, who used the yacht in the years since.)

Before the launch could happen, however, the ship suffered another setback. Authorities impounded it in an Amsterdam port due to an outstanding payment owed to designer Starck.

If you’re interested, you can keep tabs on Venus‘ location around the world using data from ShipSpotting.com.

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