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Steve Jobs first said 'Good artists copy, great artists steal'

Steve Jobs was not the first to say 'Good artists copy, great artists steal'

Steve Jobs first said 'Great artists steal'?

In fact, it turns out he was quoting Picasso.

He was also being deliberately mischievous, by stealing the quote itself. Yet somehow, this worked and most people today believe it was he who said it originally. Nicely done ;-)

There was always a fuss around Apple's products, and it must be said also concerning some of the other things Steve jobs said. For example, like telling a customer it was his fault he couldn't get a signal because he was "holding his phone wrong".


Although the phrase itself didn't appear in an 1892 article in The Gentleman's Magazine with the title "Imitators and Plagarists", the idea appeared as "To imitate is commandable, but to steal is unworthy", which isn't exactly the same sentiment but can be seen as the origins of one which would have then developed.

quoteinvestigator.com describes T.S. Eliot in 1920: “to imitate” was shoddy, and “to steal” was praiseworthy.

He was talking about poets, but the message is clear:

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

-- T. S. Eliot


The idea Apple steals it's ideas is also the subject of another MMDE - the mouse. There has always been an on running competition around the iPhone and Android, with each borrowing the other's various ideas over the years. Steve Jobs even famously wowed at the end of his life to go "thermonuclear" on Google for stealing Android, even though other touch screen mobile phones, with most of the design ideas the iPhone featured, had been on the market for some years before it's launch.