on October 27, 2011
This is a gripping journey into the life of an amazing individual. Despite its girth of nearly 600 pages, the book zips along at a torrid pace.
The interviews with Jobs are fascinating and revealing. We get a real sense for what it must have been like to be Steve, or to work with him. That earns the book five stars despite its flaws, in that it's definitely a must-read if you have any interest at all in the subject.
But there are places in the book where I have to say, "Huh?"
The book is written essentially as a series of stories about Steve. The book continuously held my interest, but some of the dramas of his life seem muted. For instance, he came close to going bust when both Next and Pixar were flailing. There was only the slightest hint that anything dramatic happened in those years. In one paragraph, Pixar is shown as nearly running him out of money. A few brief paragraphs later, Toy Story gets released and Jobs' finances are saved for good.
We hear a lot about Tony Fadell's role in the development of iPhone. Tony led the iPod group and was clearly a major source for the book. You may know from a recent Businessweek article that Tony was basically driven out of the company shortly after the final introduction of iPhone, due to personality conflicts between him and Scott Forestall, the person now in charge of iOS development. But the book doesn't say a word about it. Tony simply disappears from the rest of the book with no explanation, and Forestall is barely mentioned.
Another strange incident was the Jackling house, the house he spent a large part of his life in. A case could be made that the house is historic simply because Steve spent many of his formative years living in it. Preservationists were battling with him to save the house. Only a couple of months before his death, when he must have known he was not going to actually build a house to replace it, he had the house torn down. I would have loved to learn this story. Why did he buy it? Why did he destroy it through neglect? Why did he acquire such a blind loathing for it that he worked hard to get it torn down?
And why did Jobs keep almost all the Pixar options to himself? He doesn't seem to have needed the money, or even really wanted it that much. He could have cut his friends John Lasseter et al into their own huge fortunes. Lasseter only got about $25 million from Pixar, which seems like a shockingly low amount in view of his contributions. Now, it's not like they will starve or anything, and I think John can buy pretty much anything he wants, but it still seems surprising Jobs is so ungenerous.
There were a lot of things like this, incidents casually tossed away in a brief paragraph that should have merited an entire chapter.
I think this will always be the best account of the emotional aspects of Steve's life, which are fully covered. The chapters about his illness moved me to tears. But as an account of what really happened at Apple and how Steve fixed the company, it's insufficient. I guess that will have to await more distance from the subject.
Of course what's truly remarkable about Jobs is that he lived a life so full of incident that perhaps no biography has the space to cover the broad sweep of his life. He accomplished as much as 10 ordinarily famous men. Maybe the upshot is that you just can't fit a man like this in a book, even if that book's nearly 600 pages.
on October 25, 2011
Steve Jobs wanted to change the world, "put a dent in the universe." And he did. If you are interested in life and want to know how Jobs changed it right before our eyes, you should read this book.
No other book on Jobs has been based on first hand information from the Master himself, his colleagues and his detractors. There is no other way to know the man who changed the way we live and work. The fact that the book is engaging is a big bonus.
First Jobs' personal life, personality and beliefs. Like all fascinating people in history, Jobs was a bundle of contradictions. Born out of wedlock, he was an American icon and yet born of a Syrian Muslim whom he never knew, but had accidentally met. Adopted at birth by working class parents, he became skeptical of the Church as the all-knowing god did not help the starving children in Biafra and alternated between being a believer and a non-believer. He was, at different times, a vegan and a fruitarian (hence the name Apple). Jobs was influenced by the counter cultural ideas of the 60's and the 70's and yet become one of the most revered corporate figures of all time. He was a multi-billionaire who lived on a regular street with no high fenced compound, security or live-in servants; a Zen Buddhist who was obsessed with Zen-like simplicity but did not possess Zen-like tranquility; a son who tried to abandon his child like the way he had thought he was abandoned; a leader who was highly demanding of his colleagues and coworkers; a vastly influential figure in computing who neither built computers not wrote codes himself; a genius who was mean to many people. All these factoids had to have some influence on who he was and who he became and may keep interested psychologists busy for years. Yet, it is not for these tabloid fodder that he is looked upon with awe. To get caught up in the contradictions of a man is to miss the man.
So who is the man then? Isaacson presents Jobs life and work as a play in three acts.
During the first act, two unlikely partners named Steves (Jobs and Woz) create the world's first commercially viable personal computer, Apple II. Jobs then creates the revolutionary but unsuccessful Lisa. Apple goes public, Jobs creates the Mac, which carves itself a distinct niche. He then brings in Pepsi's Scully to manage the company only to find himself ousted from the company he founded. During his exile Jobs creates another revolutionary but not-so-successful computer NeXT. But Jobs other venture, Pixar, an outstanding animation company, is a huge commercial success.
The second act is Jobs' return to Apple. Apple was in decline and it buys the money losing NeXT. Job returns to the company he founded as the interim CEO. Introduces a series of products: peppermint colored iMacs followed b y 21st Century Macs.
The third act is the post-pc revolution, the most dramatic of all: the creation of ipod (almost 10 years ago to the day), paradigm-changing iphone and the category-creating ipad, along with many other things and cloud computing. We can't imagine a world today without ipads, ipods and iphones. The rewards are high. Apple first surpasses Microsoft and becomes the most valuable tech company. Then Apple becomes, for brief periods of time, the most valuable company in the world.
But this is not the story of Apple, but of Job. What was happening in the background while the three act play is being staged - to his family, his health, his odd beliefs that might have cost him his life, and his relationships with other giants of technology - is the focus of this book. The story is told with many interesting anecdotes such as Bill Gates incredulously exclaiming "Do ALL of you live here?" when visiting for the first time Steve Jobs' modest house.
This is an "authorized biography" and I'm wary of "authorized" biographies. Always thought they were full-length PR pieces. This one is different. Jobs gave Isaacson complete freedom to write the book and Jobs didn't demand editorial control. He didn't even want to see the book before it was published. And it shows. You see Jobs as he was. Warts and all. This is Jobs' last gift to those of us who admired his vision of the world, but wondered about the essence of the man behind it all. Now we know.
As you finish reading Job's biography of nearly 600 pages, something strikes you as odd. Steve Jobs' death is not mentioned in the book. Not the date, not the time and not even the fact that he is no more. Strangely fascinating. Like the man himself.
Apple has always meant more to me than as a computer company, because of my early experiences in the late 1970's and early 1980's from age 8 using the Apple ][, //e, and later the Mac. They represented amazing products that I could understand even as a child, that this was the direction of the future. It was odd to me then, that the world was still embracing the MS-DOS command line interface and the IBM PC/AT machines. When in the late 1990's, Apple neared bankruptcy, with Microsoft Windows dominating the market, it taught me as a young man that companies that try to make the very best can be under appreciated by the masses, just as the adults near me in the 1980's could not see the amazing nature of my Apple //e and Mac back then. Good guys, it seemed, do finish last. It was disheartening.
Since the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, the world now knows of his genius and brilliance.
This biography is utterly amazing. I could not stop reading the entire biography and finished in less than 2 days.
WHAT I LIKED
1. Extraordinarily comprehensive - The book covers an immense number of different "phases" of his life from his famous adoption story to the start of Apple Computer, to NeXt, Pixar, love life, development of his iconic products, to the time before his death (although his death is actually never mentioned).
2. Ruthlessly objective - As a fan of Steve Jobs, I cringed at all the negative descriptions of Jobs's conduct with strangers, his management team, other CEO's, etc. I knew of his candor and lack of sensitivity towards others, but the degree to which this is depicted made me cringe and even wonder if Jobs should not be garnering so much world-wide respect. This sentiment was strong in the beginning of the biography, but by the end of the biography, I had actually become accustomed to Jobs's personality through the biography, almost as if I had personally known the man and adapted to him. The biography actually made me feel like I knew him.
3. Extraordinary historical perspective - Even if this biography were not to mention Steve Jobs, it would be fascinating. There is so much written about the history of Silicon Valley, other famous CEOs, musicians, artists, politicians, etc, that the book is enticing.
4. Extraordinary perspective on other famous leaders - Jobs spoke candidly about his opinions regarding virtually every important person that may have crossed his path. There are comments and stories regarding John Sculley, President Clinton, Obama, Bill Gates, Jeffrey Katzenberg (Disney), Michael Eisner (Disney), Bob Iger (Disney), Bono, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Yoko Ono, Steve Wozniak, Larry Ellison (Oracle), Eric Schmidt (Google), Larry Page (Google), Andy Grove (Intel), etc.
5. Extremely detailed descriptions of Jobs's business decision-making processes - This is true throughout the biography, but especially so towards the last third, where there is an extraordinarily detailed account by Jobs of his thought process during development of the iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and iCloud. In this latter third of the biography, whatever doubt may have existed of whether or not Jobs should be so revered is laid to rest when we witness his amazing decision-making ability.
6. Unexpectedly funny - Especially in the very beginning of the biography, you can't help but laugh when you read about John Sculley's first day at Apple and seeing Jobs sitting on a desk playing with his bare toes.
7. Jobs's personal life - This has always been an enigma and the most many knew of Jobs's personal life came from his 2005 Stanford commencement speech. We see into his early girlfriends' perspectives of Jobs, his current wife and children's perspective. The fascinating story of his biological parents, biological sister, daughter for whom he initially denied custody, three children and wife. There is much written about his perspective on Zen Buddhism and his trek to India.
8. Extremely detailed - For all the above points, there was an immense amount of detail that I never envisioned would exist in this biography.
9. Easy to read - The author makes reading each sentence effortless.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
1. Not enough photos - The few photos that were included were great, but it left you wanting more.
2. Possibly too much of the negative aspects of Jobs's personality were described - No doubt that the man could belittle others, but there was so much emphasis of this especially in the beginning of the bio, that I wondered if the author didn't try too hard to make this point for fear of being accused of being too soft in his description of Jobs
3. Some very slight repetition in the very beginning of the biography from passages found in the middle and end of the biography.
4. I wished for more of Steve Jobs's perspective - Every now and then, the author would mention what Jobs thought of a certain past event but I wish there were more of those. So much of the biography read more like a history book trying to be objective and accurate, but I really wanted to know what Jobs thought about everything. I wanted his perspective more, even if it would make the book less objective.
This biography is amazing because of the subject matter, but it is also well-written. It seemed to be such an effort at objectiveness, however, that it actually lacked what I wanted to read most, which was Jobs's perspective. I appreciated the author's efforts and painting an accurate historical picture, but I really wanted to know what was on Jobs's mind regarding everything that was written about him. There was not enough of that, which is unfortunate, because it is in my opinion, his perspective that mattered the most.
on October 26, 2011
I finished reading it two short days after it was first available.
My wide eyed teen self loved the original Apple II.
31 years later and a day before his death, in a heaving Apple Store of his design, I walked out with a Macbook. How can this man be gone? How did he do it? Read the book.
Unfortunately I believe the editing may have been rushed. To take one trivial but annoying example the word lapidary is used twice in short succession (describing the skills of both Jobs and Gates). More than one event is re-told to the reader. Overall, I found the writing style dull, it lacked the fireworks of the subject. Luckily Jobs is on every page, making things interesting.
The book at first seems long but not when you subtract the large index, and other supporting pages. This isn't any problem except there are giant holes left for future biographers. An example: AT&T is not even mentioned in the text! There are is nothing written on how Jobs convinced The Phone Company to cede so much control to the iphone. I feel like Jobs revealed a lot of his early life but the last 10 years, the most productive and interesting ones, were mainly and sketchily told through the eyes of others. At one point it is revealed that Apple has 70,000 workers in China and 15,000 engineer managers (a figure not even available to hire in the USA). I'm sure Jobs was all over this, yet there is no further exploration.
In retrospect I found the constant repetition of the Jobs reality distortion zone, and his habit of being cruel, well ... repetitive! By his third cruel action honestly all that can be said about unkind Steve had been said. Subsequent speculations on his personal motivations and so on never added anything new.
One thought on the legacy of Jobs: Isaacson concludes that despite his flaws, he deserves to be alongside greats in the industrialist hall of fame and you'd have to be a mean spirited or jealous person to disagree with that assessment. Yet I wonder if the greats of yesterday would survive their life, and particular personal flaws, examined and documented in such detail. I'm still in awe of what Jobs did with his life, he more than lived up to his own marketing.
PS: It is a shame that the book does not come with links to youtube videos and other supporting information. For many of the key events and people in the book if you search you can find the original material (videos etc) that are so much more than the paragraph that describes them.
I stopped frequently and switched to a browser.
What a shame the e-book about such an amazing (and tech oriented) life, describing the pursuit of perfection, could not include even one link.
on October 25, 2011
This new, highly-anticipated bio is reasonably comprehensive in scope, but written in a plodding, subjectively fawning fashion that undercuts its impact. Mr. Isaacson doesn't hail from the technology world, and it shows; his feel for the real importance of Jobs' accomplishments is largely constrained to social impact (of the fuzzy, gee-whiz sort) rather than crucial areas of interface, functionality and convergence. Why do Apple's products really work? What impact will they have on how we interact with the digital world, tomorrow and after? Isaacson has no idea. All he seems to know is that 'simplicity' is good, and that 'design' is more than skin deep. And that the little things matter. Millions upon millions of people already know that; the opportunity missed here is to go deep on the subject, and unpack it. That doesn't happen here, because the writer is out of his element.
Apart from that, we learn that Jobs was basically an ass, and that he cried a lot when he didn't get his way. It's implied that he carried a narcissistic disorder, but that's never really explored -- to the book's detriment, as psychiatric context is pretty important to understand how a comprehensive tyrant could achieve so much, and improve the productivity and satisfaction of so many.
The book is also overlong -- a remarkable thing given the richness of the subject. It's written almost as a sequential fact-finding report, rather than as a truly insightful look at a man and his work. We come away with the impression that strong-willed CEOs can do what they want, as long as they make money for shareholders and impart a sense of accomplishment (however painfully won) to their underlings. Not exactly a revelation, but it takes more than 600 pages for Isaacson to drive the point home.
I'm glad we have this bio, but I suspect someone will come along and write a much better treatment of Jobs' life. For now, don't expect to learn any larger truths about Jobs and his world; just enjoy the anecdotes, and prepare to make your own conclusions about the book's fascinating subject.
on December 16, 2011
I don't read many biographies. The previous one I had read was "Mark Twain: A Life" by Ron Powers. But when I finished that book, I felt that I knew Sam Clemens as a person. In contrast, when I finished Isaacson's biography, I didn't feel like I knew Steve Jobs much better than when I started.
Isaacson did an admirable job covering the events of Jobs' life and he provided many interesting anecdotes thanks to his access to the people who knew Jobs, but the access was wasted on Isaacson. I hope that someday someone writes a biography insightful enough to capture this complex person, but it's likely that that author won't have the opportunity to conduct as much original research because he or she will not have been anointed as Jobs' official biographer.
This book reads like an extended magazine article. Rather than capture the essence of Steve Jobs, Isaacson stops at describing his abusive behavior, crying, etc. When I finished, I was left hungry for a deeper analysis of both Steve Jobs and the products he created.
on December 12, 2011
Absolutely fascinating - and horrifying. And this is the authorized biography! Steve Jobs may have been a design and marketing genius, but how his entourage suffered.
Isaacson does an excellent job on Jobs though there is a hole in the heart of the book as Jobs' adoptive (OK, he hated it when they were referred to like that) parents disappear from the story far too soon. Clara and Paul Jobs seem to be the only people Steve ever loved unconditionally and yet they are curiously absent from much of the book - the reader learns (in a few short sentences) that Clara died of cancer and Paul just disappears from the book despite Steve's insistence that Paul was "a great man". Obviously, both had already died before Isaacson began his interviews, yet it would seem like these two (who must have loved their son not wisely, but too well) held the key to why Steve had such poor relationships with everyone else.
Nevertheless, a quick and very interesting read - my sympathy to anyone who ever came into contact with him! And my gratitude to him for his extraordinary and uncompromising vision.
on October 28, 2011
Steve JobsThis is a very comprehensive book that details all aspects of Steve Jobs life and work bar one. Details about his formative years are sketchy. Walter Isaacson did not interview the one living person, adopted sister Patty Jobs, who could enlighten him more about interactions in the Jobs household that helped form Steve Jobs. Living relatives of Paul or Clara Jobs, his adoptive parents, were also not interviewed. Isaacson places more emphasis upon his biological parents. It seems that the literary works of Mona Simpson, Jobs biological sister, over influenced Isaacson. Even when there is a strong father figure in a home, mothers do help to form their children's personality. Clara Jobs gets no more than a few lines in a 600+ page book. Patty Jobs is mentioned only once or twice in passing. Research shows that she is still living and works at De Anza College in the payroll department, a position similar to that of her late mother. Hopefully a later biography will delve more thoroughly into Steve Jobs formative years.
on February 24, 2016
Today is Steve Jobs’ 61st birthday. Can you imagine what it would be like if he was still physically with us?
What must it have been like to be him, his family, his children, his closest trusted associates, his advisers, his early acquaintances? This is what you will be feeling as you read this book. What must it have been like if you ever interacted with him at any point in your life, is what you will be thinking when you finish reading this book. That is what I was feeling and thinking as I read this book during the three weeks it took to read it the first time, and a little more to read it the second time. Why that long and why twice?
It was during an emotionally difficult period in my life when I read this book. I read it during my trip to India late last year to see my father not knowing whether or when he would recover from his then recent illness. I read it because I needed something larger than life, something that would help me deal with the uncertainty of my father’s health condition, wondering what Steve Jobs and his family must have gone through when his health was failing. I read it the second time because there were plenty of sections in the book that were just too critical not to be read a few more times for their relevance in his life.
Who should read this book?
Everyone must read this book, for different reasons:
- the Steve Jobs fan, to gain an understanding of what he was all about,
- the Apple fan, to understand the philosophy behind its products,
- the Pixar fan, to understand how it came into existence, almost did not survive, but became the giant it is,
- anyone who wants to succeed in life, to learn what it takes to rise above insurmountable odds and succeed despite the most difficult obstacles, and create, nurture, and grow two of the most valuable brands in the world.
This book contains a comprehensive landscape of his entire life during which he became who he was, and why he is revered (or not) by anyone who came into contact with him. But how can a life as illustrious as Steve Jobs’ be contained in one book?
The 1st edition published in 2011 has 42 chapters and notes, 630 pages, consisting of material from over 40 interviews with him, and with more than 100 people whose lives he touched or was touched by. The creation of this book began in 2009 as his health was rapidly deteriorating. Considering that it was published in November 2011 one can only attempt to imagine the gut wrenching that must have occurred during that time due to the uncertainty of his treatment.
This is not an easy or quick book to read, but as anyone who enjoys good food, a momentous event, or a memorable moment in life – you will want to savor it in small, bite sized chunks, and REALLY take in everything it has to offer.
Despite knowing how the story ends, I slowed down the pace as I got to the last few chapters, hoping the outcome would be different, knowing it would not. But there were times when the stories were gripping enough for me to finish reading that particular chapter quickly, or slow down because I wanted to reflect deeply on what I was reading.
This book takes you on a deep, emotional journey of his life, with all its challenges, trials and tribulations, the knowledge of being an adopted child, the challenges that result from that knowledge, and how he dealt with those difficulties.
It has extensive coverage of the vast multitude of people that shaped his thinking, his approach in life, and how some of those interactions laid the foundation of his product philosophy, his desire for simplicity, perfection, and integrated approach of the devices that the companies he was associated with would invent and reinvent.
It includes every phase in his life from when he started with the blue boxes, through the Macintosh, to NeXT, to Pixar, and the return to Apple, and how he applied the lessons he learned at NeXT in managing Pixar. The genesis of how the iPod, iPhone, and iPad came about is equally engrossing for the different technologies that made it possible for these revolutionary devices to come together.
The chapters describing the deterioration of his health puts you in the middle of the agony that he and his family must have lived through, especially knowing that had he been accommodating in the early detection and treatment, the outcome could have been different. One cannot help but think, “What if?”
What makes this book special?
Anyone who has any interest in him knows what he was all about, and that he was a one-of-a-kind genius. There is no denying that the reason he became as famous as he did was because of the products that are credited to him, and perhaps more so because of his mercurial personality. This book intertwines the creation of this legendary leader, the husband, and the father as those products were coming to life – how he evolved as a person, as a family man, as a leader who his people counted on, and as a genius whose legacy is a testament to what he was all about.
Though he may not have been the sole creator of the devices that have been credited to him, there is no denying the fact that it was his single-minded determination that brought those devices to life. Pause for a second and think: Was there a ‘personal’ computer before the Macintosh? How did we listen to music before the iPod? What was the most advanced mobile phone before the iPhone? Was there any device like the iPad before it came into existence? Were there movies like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Inside Out before Pixar? This book is the story of the man that made these, and many more creations possible. It describes how, despite some of his personal shortcomings, he resurrected the company he created from the brink of disaster.
What I wondered about as I read this book:
As any project of this magnitude, the more you learn, the more questions you have, and you leave with more questions about the foundation or motivation for certain events, and wonder “what if the outcomes had been different?”
As I read the book, I could not help myself from asking those kinds of “what if” questions that made me wonder what things would have been like if certain events had occurred, or not, and whether things would have turned out as they did, or did not. You may find yourself asking similar questions. Here are some of those questions:
- What if Clara (his mother) would not have been able to convince Paul (his father) to move out to San Francisco from Wisconsin?
- What if Steve had not been adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs?
- What if his dad would not have taken him to the NASA Ames Center where he fell in love with the first computer terminal he ever saw?
- What if he had not met Larry Lang who turned him on to Heathkits which made him believe he could build and understand anything?
- What if he would not have seen the 9100A desktop computer at HP that he fell in fell in love with?
- What if he did not know Bill Fernandez who introduced him to Steve Wozniak?
- What if the robbery of one of the blue boxes at the Sunnyvale pizza parlor had turned sour, or for instance if he would not been able to escape when his red Fiat caught fire?
- Would he have had the single-minded laser focus to create the devices he did later in life had he not gone to Reed College where he met Robert Friedland, from whom he acquired the ability to twist reality to his desire – aka: the reality distortion field?
- What if Commodore had bought out Apple soon after the release of the Apple II?
- What if he had not seen the Atari advertisement in the San Jose Mercury which prompted him to get a job there, the simplicity of whose games may have laid the foundation of the simplicity that he profusely sought after; where he met Nolan Bushnell, who became a role model; or Al Alcorn, who saw his intelligence, enthusiasm, and excitement about technology; or where he met Ron Wayne, who was the source of the fascination to start his own company?
- What if Nolan Bushnell had provided the $50k funding for Apple II? Would he have met Don Valentine who introduced him to Mike Markkula, who became an instrumental person in his life and to Apple for nearly two decades?
- What if he had not paid heed to Jef Raskin and Bill Atkinson to visit Xerox PARC where he got the ideas about bitmapping, the graphical user interface, object oriented programming, networked computers, and the pointing device that ultimately became the mouse?
- What if Don Estridge had taken the job as the CEO of Apple instead of John Sculley? Would there have been a NeXT or Pixar, and ALL the events that happened after he returned to Apple?
- What if Ross Perot had not seen the PBS show “Entrepreneurs” in November 1986 which had the segment of Steve Jobs and NeXT, which resulted in the funding at a critical time in NeXT’s life, especially because it was NeXT’s architecture that was integrated in the resurrected Apple after his return?
- What if NeXTSTEP had been integrated in IBM’s machines? Would Microsoft have been able to establish such a strong foothold in the PC industry as it did during that time?
- What if Alan Kay had not been successful in introducing Steve Jobs to Ed Catmull? Would Pixar be what it is today?
- What if Pixar had been successful in selling hardware as was his original idea? Would he have made the extensive investments in the animation team that ultimately resulted in Pixar to become what they became later?
- What if he would have relegated his CEO position at Pixar when he returned full time to Apple? Would his health have deteriorated as much as it did?
- What if Jony Ive had quit from Apple as he was about to, before Jobs became the iCEO in September 1997?
- And last but not least: What if the duo of everything computers, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, had come together at the onset of the PC revolution? Can we even fathom what the landscape would have been like?
Interesting facts and historic anecdotes:
If you are a collector of interesting Steve Jobs, Apple, or Pixar facts and historic anecdotes this book is for you. They are interwoven in the stories according to their relevance and importance to the product, service, or person in that chapter. In many instances they are a core element of how or why a certain aspect of the product is what it is, its genesis, and the idea behind why, and how it came to life. Here are a few examples from this treasure trove for any Steve Jobs, Apple, or Pixar fan:
- Did you know that the foundation of his staunch conviction for integrated products – i.e.: software and hardware, was when he saw something on a farm? See page 15 to find out what that was.
- Did you know that Apple’s name could have been Executek or two other names? Page 63 contains those names.
- Do you know who is the original creator of the technology that throws off less heat, and how and why that came to be? Page 74 has the answer.
- While it is known that the graphical user interface originated at Xerox PARC, do you know the other technologies that also originated there? See page 97 for the details.
- Did you know how the overlapping windows on our desktops were invented? Is it not interesting that it was sheer brute force that caused this feature to be created because this person thought that it was already available, realized that it was not, and built it? Is it not even more strange that it almost did not make it because of an auto accident? See page 100 for more.
- Do you know the original name of the Macintosh? Or what it was almost called if he would have had his way? Pages 109 and 115 contain the answers.
- Did you know who was the individual who helped fine tune the fonts and design the icons such as the trash can? See pages 130 and 131 to find out.
- Want to know what makes every Macintosh like an artist’s painting? Find out on page 134.
- Did you know that the code for the Macintosh was not ready until a week or so before shipment date? Page 161 has a gripping narrative of the nail-biting finish to the release date.
- Did you know how much he bought Pixar for, poured more into, and the value it was acquired by Disney for? See pages 240, 248, and 441 for the answers. If that is not steadfastness, what is?
- Want to know who was the technology industry leader who was willing to line up substantial financing, if he chose to take over Apple? Find out on page 300.
- Do you know the feature of staircases that he is the lead inventor on two patent applications? Check it out on page 375.
A stand out feature:
One of the elements that makes the book stand out are the numerous smaller print, indented sections that contain actual quotes, or excerpts, or conversations with Steve Jobs and the many people associated with him.
These sections provide an even closer look into his values, his beliefs, his ideas, and what he stood for, i.e.: focus, simplicity, and sophistication; and who he truly was - the ultimate visionary, who evolved into a genius who will be remembered, revered, and respected for a very long time.
While every single one of these sections provide a deeper glimpse into what made him who he was, the one that is THE absolute best is on page 567 where he describes his observations about life, and what drove him.
If you are interested in what it must have been like to walk in Steve Jobs’ shoes even if for the time you read this book, read this book. It may be an arduous, time consuming journey that will take you on an introspective path full of surprises, frustrations, happiness, sadness, melancholy, and all imaginable emotions in between, but it will be well worth the time, because you will gain a deeper insight into discovering yourself, and begin living life as he did – on his own terms.
Thank you for sharing the story of his life, Mr. Isaacson.
on November 3, 2011
Walter Isaacson is one of my favorite biographers. His books about Einstein, Kissinger, and Benjamin Franklin are fantastic. So last summer when I heard that he would be writing a book titled Steve Jobs, I immediately put it into my Amazon cart.
Little did I realize that Jobs would be gone by the time the book was released. A sad loss for his family, for Apple, and for those of us who love the unique Silicon Valley area and culture. Jobs changed the world with his innovation and passion. He brought together great design and great technology as nobody else has ever done.
I never met Steve Jobs but we had many overlapping areas in our lives. We were close in age, we both grew up in Silicon Valley, and we had a few mutual acquaintances. I remember driving past the Next building every day to and from work in the 1980's. On the day Jobs died it struck me that for my entire life, with the exception of our college years, he and I lived within about 30-miles of each other. Every location mentioned in the biography is familiar to me because of that.
From the book I learned that we had one other significant connection: Steve's father was a frequent wrecking yard scavenger who took Steve to the junkyards on weekends. Good chance that Steve's father and my father met; a more distant chance that Steve and I crossed paths as kids. Either way, I guess I can say we sold products to Jobs before he sold anything to us!
One of the great things about this biography is that it doesn't pull any punches. Steve Jobs was a testy character, hard to work with, and moody. He was definitely from the countercultural world of the 1960's, experimenting with LSD, Eastern religions, and communal farms. That might be forgiven because of his youth and the era, but he was distant from his best friends, harsh to people who loved him, and neglectful of his children. Shoot, he even parked in the handicap space at the Apple headquarters. The book brings all of this up. I often wondered how his behavior was overlooked by those who revered him.
One of the best parts of the book is the first half about Jobs' childhood and youth. It emphasizes his being adopted, and later shares the story of him rediscovering his family. It sets the stage for the person Jobs became. The theme of abandonment and "me against the world" was prevalent throughout.
In the second half the book has a tendency to become a profile of Apple's greatest hits. The decade of the 2000's saw the redesign of the Macintosh computers, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, MobileMe, iCloud, etc etc. Where Isaacson loses me is when he delves into an explanation of all of that. I realize it's relevant to the story of Steve Jobs, but it's recent history that is well documented.
This weakness is forgotten when you read the end of the biography. Isaacson develops the storyline of how Jobs changes in the later part of his life. His losing battle to cancer is described with gracious transparency. An insightful (and somehow sad) part of the book is when we read that Steve's personality changed as he realized his life would be cut short. Excellent writing from Isaacson.
On a more significant note, a strength of the book is the excellent way that Isaacson explains how Jobs lived at the intersection of science and the liberal arts. Or as it is sometimes put, at the place where technology meets the humanities. Jobs himself fully understood this and was proud of it, as could be seen from his famous commencement address at Stanford a few years back.
A wonderful book about a fascinating person. And even with a few slow parts, this may be my favorite book of the year.