- Walter Isaacson
I can’t remember getting a book on the day of it’s release. For this Steve Jobs biography I had the iBook on my iPad 20 minutes into the day of publication. Isn’t technology wonderful.
Before I even owned any of Apple’s hardware I read Apple Confidential so I knew how the company was started. I had also bought iWoz when that was published and I have a copy of The Pirates of Silicon Valley. So the first half of the book, up until Steve’s departure from Apple, I knew about, but of course not from Steve himself.
It was only when he formed NeXT and Pixar that things really started to get interesting for me. I never owned any machine before the 2nd generation iMac, which can now be called the ‘sunflower’ iMac, this was the start of Mac OS X. I heard that he could brutal when delivering his opinion of the work within Apple if it wasn’t up to his exacting standard. But reading the book I did start to think that he was just a complete sod (a British term of endearment). He did seem to relish belittling people, making them uncomfortable, but in the end, he did get results, he got the best out of people.
Steve must have been a difficult to live with. The headquarters for Pixar took less time to complete than the kitchen at home. As a family they spent ages trying to find exactly the right washing machine. When he was in hospital he complained about the oxygen mask and the monitor on his finger, saying that they were both badly designed.
Throughout his life he had been on these strange diets. Only eating fruit one minute, only eating carrots the next. As his health was failing the family employed a part-time cook to prepare meals. Steve said that he fancied pumpkin pie, this was prepared from scratch and an hour later he had two mouthfuls. That was considered an achievement as he usually considered most food to be inedible.
The really sad thing is that when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he didn’t want to be operated on, he thought that the cancer would go away if he ate certain types of food. This is the same man who was involved in creating some of the iconic hardware and software in the first decade of the 21st century: iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes and also Apple’s retail stores, and one of the most influential animation studios, Pixar.
The biography is truly warts and all. In the later chapters Steve tells Walter that he wishes that he’d handled certain situations differently. Maybe he had been thinking a lot about the past as he knew that he only had a limited time left. Steve told Walter Isaacson that the biography was for his children so they they could see why he wasn’t always there for them.
I really can’t see there being another person like Steve Jobs. Someone who has a laser like focus on making great products like that.
I still can’t quiet believe that he’s gone.