Steve Jobs: the Exclusive Biography
A life less ordinary
Review If you're looking for any fresh insight into the character of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, you won't get it from Walter Isaacson's biography.
Likewise, if you hope that some real, private Jobs will rise from the pages to give the lie to the erratic, abusive, vehement control freak that was the CEO's public persona, you'll be disappointed.
That was indeed Jobs' character, here given testament by many of the men and women who lived and worked with him through his college years, his early work life, the establishment of Apple, the wilderness years an NeXT and his return to the first company he founded, all detailed chronologically in well-written but standard American journalistic prose.
Isaacson's biography was written at Jobs' behest, though the author insists the Apple founder accepted he would have no editorial control or even a say in the published work. It's certainly no hagiography, though, like so many others before him, it's clear even Isaacson succumbed to Jobs' infamous charm. Fortunately, that doesn't appear to have deprived him of his journalistic senses, and the book neither flatters Jobs nor brushes over his bad behaviour. Reality is not distorted.
The barefoot CEO
Isaacson spares Jobs no blushes. He doesn't avoid Jobs' near-abandonment of his first daughter and her mother, and his attempts to deny paternity even after a positive DNA test. He gleefully mentions the younger Jobs' poor personal hygiene - he believed living the vegan life meant showering was largely unnecessary - and his willingness to sit with his grubby, bare feet on others' desks.
Not that the CEO was ever one to blush, though for a man seemingly unable to empathise with almost all other human beings, including his lovers, his wife and his children, he could be starkly over-emotional at time.
A beardy wierdy. And Steve Wozniak
Isaacson frequently reveals how often Jobs would burst into tears, though not always at the moments in his life you might expect him to. Genuine feelings or emotional manipulation? Isascson doesn't comment.
Perhaps Isaacson stresses Jobs' ability to blub at the drop of a hat in order to show that the CEO's emotional spectrum extended beyond anger - a very quick temper was one of Jobs' hallmarks - and sheer pleasure at putting others down, though he could occasionally be quick to praise too.
Jobs was a character defined by his work, not by his life outside of the companies he created. There is nothing here about Jobs' hobbies, how he relaxed, or what he enjoyed doing in his spare time. Journalistic omission? More likely it's because Jobs had none of these things. His drive for perfection in the products he was trying to create, or others were creating for him, was his whole life.
Next page: Working man
It still amazes me to no end
How every "historian" or "Apple Fan" wants to attribute Steve with inventing everything under the Apple brand.
Hot tip: he invented nothing. Not one single concept that Apple has ever or will ever sell was invented by Jobs, not was it significantly changed from it's original concepts.
The Computer? Already there.
The GUI? Already created and shown to him during a visit to PARC.
The tablet? Already created and developed into prototypes by Alan Kay.. shown to Jobs during a visit to PARC
The mouse? The desktop concept? Shown to Jobs on a visit to (you guessed it) PARC, on a working machine that was production-ready but not sold.
The iPod? Nope. MP3 players were already rusting by the time iPods came out.
What he did was envision ways to bring products to the market, and to convince people to buy them. In other words: a sales guy, or a marketing guy; hell I'll go so far as visionary. To put him in any category other than the thieving scumbag he was is an insult to those that created what he stole.
I have more respect for Bill Gates than this guy, and that's unfortunately not very much.
We all know the story - angry nasty hippy guy drops acid, steals ideas, markets them as his own, makes a packet, gets shafted, is resurrected, steals more ideas and markets them as divine objects, makes a killing, shafts and belittles a whole bunch of people along the way and then dies.
What more do we need to know?
Read the book...
Or any of the other biographical accounts on the subject of Pixar's creation. Pixar was a research center and software products outfit in the hands of Lucas. It wasn't bringing in enough money and was not deemed much valuable, attested by the fact that Lucas chose to sell it when first requiring funding for his other ventures.
Steve Jobs did not design, write, animate, nor produced Toy Story in any direct way; that much is true. However, it is indisputable that he facilitated Lasseter and his team, and at the very least saw enough talent in them to leave them well alone in running the enterprise by themselves.
Toy Story was such a great work *because* Lasseter was left to his own devices, but this ostensibly would *never* had happened had it not been Jobs at the helm of Pixar. Certainly not under Lucas.
Toy Story ? Jobs ?
Oh come on. Toy Story was John Lasseter's baby not Steve Jobs'. As the earlier reg article pointed out Jobs wanted to shut the animation studio down:
Jobs just got VERY lucky with Toy Story. No vision of his involved.
Also, remember that it was Jobs payment to George Lucas for Pixar that allowed Howard The Duck to be released. No sensible film-goer has any reason to thank Steve Jobs.
In the UK at least, it's £12.99 on Kindle, £12.99 on iBooks, and (you've guessed it) £12.99 on Kobo.
Almost as though there's a cartel in operation...