Steve Jobs was a college dropout in 1973, but he still occasionally hung around the campus of Reed College, the Portland, Oregon, school he went to, and audited the occasional class.
One of those classes was calligraphy, and it was taught by a Trappist monk named Robert Palladino.
Palladino died last month, and his obituary in the New York Times explains that he was a huge influence on Jobs and Apple.
Jobs credited Palladino’s class with teaching him about typefaces, and later boasted in a 2005 commencement address at Stanford that he designed “beautiful typography” into the Mac. Jobs said:
If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Jobs may never have met Palladino in the first place if he hadn’t abandoned the Trappist monastery where he was a monk in 1968. But he’d fallen in love with a clarinetist in the Portland Symphony, Catherine Halverson, and married her after being dispensed from his priestly vows. He rejoined the priesthood in 1995, after his wife’s death.
And here’s a video of one of his lectures.