Steve Jobs’ official biography has been released. Written by Walter Isaacson, a former managing editor for Time magazine, the 656-page book sells for $35. You can get Steve Jobs’ official biography from Amazon and as an ebook from Google for $16.99.
Life and Legacy
While the initial global outpouring of grief over the death of Apple’s co-founder has begun to subside, the public’s fascination with Jobs’ life is still going strong. Part of that interest stems from Jobs’ personality – which was often described as reserved, private and even reclusive.
He rarely granted interviews and when he did, they were almost exclusively focused on whatever project he was engaged in creating and promoting at the time. In a media-driven age empowered by mighty communication tools (many Jobs himself had pioneered), there was much about his own life that the man chose not to publicly communicate.
In his final years though, Jobs did however open up for his biography. Based on more than 40 interviews Isaacson conducted with Jobs during a two-year period, and additional interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors and colleagues. And although Jobs cooperated for the book, he asked for no control over what was written, nor did he even ask for the right to read it before it was published.
For those keenly interested in Steve Jobs’ legacy, Isaacson’s biography may end up being the last, best word on the subject. Other Steve Jobs quotes have appeared in the press, but the newly released interview text is sure to shake up some readers.
Revelations and Secrets
The new book reveals some interesting, expected and not-so-expected insights. The most controversial discovery involves Jobs’ 2011 meeting with President Barack Obama, at which time Jobs reportedly said that Obama was “headed for a one-term presidency” and at one point even offered to design portions of the President’s re-election campaign.
Here are a few more excerpts that have surfaced in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs…
On Microsoft’s Bill Gates: “Basically unimaginative and has never invented anything…he just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”
On Google’s Android Phone: “I will go thermonuclear on this issue. I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.” Though Jobs received criticism for his tight control over the iPhone ecosystem, which contrasts sharply with Android’s “open” approach, he told Isaacson that Apple’s approach stemmed from the company’s desire to “make great products, not crap like Android.” Isaacson writes in the book that Jobs had attempted to persuade Google not to develop a mobile operating system to rival Apple’s own by promising the company it would have access to the iPhone and prime real estate on the device.
On the Dangers of Becoming Wealthy: “I saw a lot of other people at Apple, especially after we went public, how it changed them. And a lot of people thought that they had to start being rich. I mean, a few people went out and bought Rolls Royces, and they bought homes, and their wives got plastic surgery. I saw these people who were really nice simple people turn into these bizarro people. And I made a promise to myself. I said ‘I’m not gonna let this money ruin my life.’”
On Facebook: ”You know we talk about social networks in the plural but I don’t see anybody other than Facebook out there…Facebook – they’re dominating this. I admire Mark Zuckerberg. I only know him a little bit, but I admire him for not selling out. For wanting to make a company. I admire that a lot.”
On Why He “Opened Up” for Isaacson’s Biography: “I wanted my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”
Notes From the Author
Isaacson’s previous books include biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger, both of whom were powerful and often misunderstood men of their respective times. “(Steve) talked a lot to me about what happened when he got sick and how it focused him,” said Isaacson, in a transcript from an upcoming segment of “60 Minutes.”
Isaacson also spoke about Jobs’ state of mind during his final days. “He said he no longer wanted to go out, no longer wanted to travel the world,” said Isaacson. “He would focus on the products. He knew the couple of things he wanted to do, which was the iPhone and then the iPad. He had a few other visions. I think he would’ve loved to have conquered television.” (It’s true, Apple insiders have noted Jobs’ was always disappointed Apple TV wasn’t more widely accepted.)
Constantly out of step and sporting a rebel sensibility, Isaacson reported that Jobs often thought the usual rules didn’t apply to him, and worked counter to them. For example, he went through a period as a young man during which he didn’t bathe regularly (his managers at Atari made him work the night shift because his co-workers complained about his personal hygiene). Another quirk: driving a Mercedes with no license plate. Why? According to Isaacson, it was because he didn’t want people tracking him.
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