The Truth About Steve Jobs' Last Words Before He Died

There's no doubt that Steve Jobs was one of the most influential figures of his time. The products that he helped pioneer at Apple, from the Macintosh computer to the iPhone, changed the shape of society. His vision for the future of technology has, in many regards, become the look of the 21st century as we know it. 

While Jobs' name and legacy have been immortalized, though, the man himself was all too mortal. As made clear by Walter Isaacson's posthumous biography, Jobs was a harsh, demanding figure, prone to anger and depression, who couldn't help but be a complicated figure in the public imagination: as much as Jobs could be petulant, shortsighted, and childish, he was also an honest visionary, whose blunt attitude led to an unprecedented volume of earth-shaking products. As a flawed, real human being, Jobs was also prone to the weaknesses of the human body, and so he spent his last decade of life battling pancreatic cancer, according to Biography, and died in 2011. 

Since then, there has often been speculation — and outright fabrications — regarding what Jobs said on his deathbed. 

The meme-worthy 'deathbed speech' of Steve Jobs isn't real

Steve Jobs was an important figure in technology history, but he wasn't always a person who others looked upon favorably. He was a complex figure with many flaws, to put it mildly. However, back in 2015, an essay circulated across social media, claiming to be Jobs' final deathbed speech, whereupon he apologized for all of his past behavior, and cautioned others to not follow his example. In the speech, Jobs allegedly told anyone reading it to treasure their family and friends, and that, "Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth ... should be something that is more important: Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days. Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me." The essay finishes with a sentimental treatise on how the only book that matters is the so-called Book of Healthy Life ... which, no, you won't find in stores. Duh.

It's all a bit soap opera-ish, to put it bluntly. Seriously, can you picture Steve Jobs saying this? Maybe at the end of a Disney movie, but certainly not in real life. Sure enough, Snopes debunked the whole thing soon after it arrived. That said, there should have never been a need to cook up a phony final speech for Jobs, because his actual final words are well-documented. 

Steve Jobs' final words were far more mysterious

When you're wondering what a famous person's last thoughts on life might've been, it pays to know who was in the actual room. As it happens, Jobs' sister Mona Simpson was there by his side, and she discussed the Apple titan's last statement when she was giving his eulogy, according to the New York Times. As she tells it, in Jobs' final moments of consciousness, he looked at his family, then stared past their shoulders into the great beyond behind them, and uttered the repeated phrase: "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow."

What did this mean? Honestly, there's no way to know. Depending on one's spiritual beliefs regarding the afterlife, there are many ways to read into these words. Nonetheless, it's fascinating to ponder the mystery.

The great beyond

Now, if one wants to prove what Steve's final words meant, you'd first have to prove what really happens after death. Good luck with that. Humankind has been trying to figure that puzzle out for the past, oh, 200,000 years or so, and cooked up plenty of fun theories.

That said, Jobs' final words do hint toward something wonderfully ethereal and fascinating, which can't help but get the mind buzzing. In that regard, understanding Jobs' own spiritual views may be helpful: looking back on his life, he once said that his experimentation with psychedelic drugs were a transformative experience, and according to CNN, his travels through India led to him eventually converting to Buddhism. His wedding to Laurene Powell was presided over by a monk, Kobun Chino. While his overall belief system was complex, it was perhaps best summarized when, in an interview with Time Magazine, he stated that, "I believe life is an intelligent thing, that things aren't random." He also once stated that his big goal in life was to "put a dent in the universe." Now, to be clear, there are many details about Jobs' life that didn't particularly line up with his philosophies, most notably his oft-stated lack of philanthropic giving. Nonetheless, his beliefs were a huge, guiding force in his life, and one can only assume whatever he saw at the end — whatever it was that made him repeat "Oh wow" three times — it was somehow connected to all this.