During Santa Cruz engineer Tom Padula's decade at Apple his team had one rule when they were working on a top-secret project: don't ever get on the elevator.
They were on the third floor of the building at One Infinite Loop. Steve Jobs was on the fourth floor.
"If you got on the elevator with him, he would always ask 'What do you do here?'" said Padula, who worked on an audio program called SoundTrack and on the iPad. "He really wanted to know. He was interested in the people who worked for him.
"But I dreaded showing him anything. Not because he would tear us apart or anything, but he had something in his head that said, 'I think you should do x, y, z, p and q,' and we've got six weeks to go, and we're like, 'Yes, sir.'
"So for the secret project that had not yet been released, we said, let's just get it to the point where we actually ship this thing before it gets too much attention from Steve."
Jobs' slavish focus detail was a blessing and a curse for the engineers under him, said Padula, who joined other local tech entrepreneurs at Clouds downtown for a drink in honor of the Apple boss after a New Tech meetup at the Cruzio building.
"People who left iPad said they were happy to drop back to working only seven days a week."
But, said Padula, the products were worth the efforts Jobs inspired and demanded.
"His genius was in being able to put himself in the shoes of the end user, his ability to cut through the crap and focus on what the user wants. They want a DVD of their daughter's wedding. They don't want to know anything about compression. They don't want to know anything about HD64 or any of that crap. They want their camera to work so they can push a button and take out a DVD.
"Steve made everything just a little bit easier to deal with."
To illustrate, Padula, a proud self-described geek, pulls out a phone from each pocket. One is an old flip top; the other, the iPhone.
"I've always said, I've got this ancient cell phone, and then, I have these things, which came along and walked all over the market. Too bad Apple wasn't around when we needed decent interfaces on things like VCRs and microwave ovens."
Padula left Apple a year and a half ago to start a company called Humble Earth, which makes electric fireflies for gardens or offices. The light-up twinkling ornaments particularly appeal to people from the East Coast and Midwest, who miss the flying nightlight insects.
How does he think Apple will fare now?
"There are 20,000 people at Apple. Steve doesn't write the code. He doesn't solder together the iPhones. But I believe his philosophy is well-prepared to continue into the future of the company."