Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Posted by jack_miller | Published 6 months ago

With 7265 ratings

By: Walter Isaacson, Dylan Baker, et al.

Purchased At: $22.00

Featuring a new epilogue read by the author.

From the author of the best-selling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, this is the exclusive biography of Steve Jobs.

Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years - as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues - Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the 21st century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple's hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

With the exception of one laptop and 2 non-smart cell phones, in my personal and professional life since 2004 I've had nothing but Apple products - computers (both desktop and laptop), iPads, iPods, and my crown jewel: my iPhone. None has ever disappointed me. I say this not to put forth a review of the Apple products but to explain that I am part of Steve Jobs's choir: I value, respect and rely on the products that he created. I'm sold, so to speak. And so it seemed only logical that I would eventually read this book to gain insight both in the genesis and evolution of Apple and in the person of Steve Jobs. The book did not disappoint in either.

What I found out about the early years and the development of the personal computer was fascinating. I do remember a lot of the news articles from those years - I was living in San Francisco at the time and a good friend of mine worked for Apple - but I would not consider myself previously knowledgeable about Apple in any comprehensive way. I learned so much of the nuts and bolts of Apple Computer, Inc., from this book. The chapters about the creation of the iPod, iPhone and iPad were very interesting to someone who has used these products for years and years and feels she has some proficiency using what they offer me.

But the insight I gained from the book on Steve Jobs the man left me very sad. While I consider him to have been a true genius with an almost other-worldly imagination, I can't imagine that I would have liked him very much or respected him outside of his professional arena. As the founder and developer of Apple Computer, he was spectacular. He had an intense imagination, vision, and belief in things that had yet to be discovered. He was fortunate enough to find those people who had the same precise work ethic that he did. To find those people and to hone the abilities of the ones who stayed, he had no reservations about crushing their substandard efforts or their feelings. The ones who lasted were the ones who believed in his vision and their Jobs-given opportunity to indulge and demonstrate their own creativity. The ones who lasted were the best and brightest the tech and artistic world had to offer. The ones who lasted were the ones who took his ideas and made them into our reality. I am profoundly grateful to them and to him for the advances they made in technology and artistry. And I guess the one cannot exist without the other. Without his exact personality would the tech world have been turned on its ear and eventually controlled by Apple? I don't know. Actually I doubt it.

In terms of his family, it seemed as if his attention to them was given only when it was not required or demanded elsewhere. His children were discussed very little; the same is true about Laurene Powell, his wife. But it is clear that in his wife he found the one person who was his equal in intelligence and commitment. Their marriage is portrayed as strong but him as absent.

The sections on his cancer and eventual death were moving but not enough to make me feel for him as a person. I am sorry he died but my sorrow has to do with the loss of him professionally and what he might have accomplished and achieved had he lived but not with the loss of him as a man. And yet I can recognize his genius and I'm glad I read the book.

- landry_alvarez

My mini-synopsis: This book was a looooong journey. By far the longest books I’ve read (not very helpful in keeping my average read time down) but it was also one of my favorite. It went through the life of Steve Jobs in an insane amount of detail. From every product launch, to every girlfriend, it covered the whole gambit. I had already heard many things about Jobs such as the fact that he had a child and refused to accept that it was his until years later as well as the fact that he was terrible to his employees. This book drove home those points as well as adding some other crazy facts such as him believing that the youth of today was doomed because they didn’t do LSD. Steve Jobs is iconic and probably the best product centric CEO in history. His journey through life showed that there was definitely a major cost to this but ultimately, the world is better for it.

What I learned: Out of all the books I have so far, this one has the biggest impact on my current work. That impact being an obsession on getting the product right. There are many lessons and experts that convince you to be lean and test the smallest hypothesis which is a great strategy but sometimes, you need to follow your gut. When I started reading this book, I had just finished designing out a feature that would encourage much more interaction with our product but was meant to be in a later version. I kept having a feeling that it needed to be put in as soon as possible and reading about Jobs’ gut feelings and obsession for getting it right, pushed me to follow my own feeling and I believe it was a huge decision. Another thing I learned from this book is exactly how I don’t want to treat people. Maybe I am too much of an optimist but I believe that being nice is one of the greatest attributes you can have. I don’t mean you should be a doormat but genuinely wanting to find the best outcome for all parties involved is just right. The way that Jobs treated everyone around him is unacceptable and it is the one thing that will constantly cause an asterisk to be by his name. I learned a lot from this book and I believe it will continue to have a huge effect on my life moving forward.

- harley_johnson

Although I have awarded this book four stars, I confess that I was unable to finish it. Jobs is certainly not an attractive subject for a biography. Human relations were not his strong point. He was rude, mercurial, arrogant,brash and condescending among other things. On the other hand he was brilliant, had enormous vision, was able to choose the right people to accomplish his goals and he rocked the technical world to its foundations.For me his unattractiveness outweighed the time needed to complete Isaacson's lengthy biography which is probably the best that will ever be written about Jobs. His writing style is very dense; each page is filled with information, observations and a myriad of other details. I found it trying and wearied of Job's bad behavior, arguments unsuccessful romances and what have you., Let others tread where I could not.

- van_hernandez

Not knowing what to expect, I halfway expected this to be a biography of an ego maniac, and I avoided reading this until a colleague recommended it. WOW! Was I surprised. Extremely well written and exposed the dichotomy of good and bad qualities in Jobs personality.

I remember the 1984 unveiling of the Mac and was one of the first in line when it came out. I recognized the revolutionary nature of it and had to have one. I've been in and out of the Mac culture over the years but followed Apple from afar. The Sculley years were less than inspiring after Jobs left and it was very interesting to have a behind the scenes view of the Apple history. Well done!

- graysen_morris

I am not a fan of Apple products. I also dont own one of them. Many of my friends despised Steve Jobs and used to tell me stories about his part in the development of Apple being negligible. I wanted to know the truth. Trust me this book is a jewel. Not just for those who admire him but also for all tech nerds. There is so much described about the times of early inventions in electronic industry to present day iphone. All of this is beautifully wound around Jobs' story and he fist perfectly into that world. I wish i were alive during that time to witness all that he achieved. I surely believe he put a dent to the universe!

I recommend to read this, to those who love apple and Jobs but I insist to those who hate him. You will love him by the time you reach the end and wish there was more to read.

- karter_reed

Quality from start to finish. How a biography should be and even turned me into an Apple convert. The story of a driven man who probably did manage to put a dent in the universe (time will tell).

Believed first and foremost in making great things before making money. Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are. The goal of starting a company is to make something you believe in and that will last, not to get rich. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - "less but better". To be truly simple, you have to go really deep. Design must reflect a product's essence. Good execution is as important as a great idea. A-players like to work together, not tolerate B-players. You can't afford to tolerate the B-players. Even the aspects that remain hidden should be done beautifully - a great carpenter isn't going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet just because it isn't seen (how many CEO's behave like that as opposed to finding cost-cuts?). Don't accept "no" for an answer, even if it means adopting a "reality distortion field". Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. People who know what they're talking about don't need PowerPoint. If something isn't right, you can't just ignore it and say "we'll fix it later" - that's what other companies do! Motivations really matter - if you don't love music, don't create a music product. The best way to begin a speech is to say "let me tell you a story", because nobody wants a lecture. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose: memento mori. "Here's to the crazy ones".

- elena_gutierrez

I sat on the plane reading this book. The chap next to me had an iPhone, the lady on the opposite aisle had an iPad, and the lady by the opposite window had an iPhone. It brought home the impact this man had on the world.

Steve Jobs was one crazy guy. He was into spirituality, but he didn't seem to be spiritual at all really. In a weird way he spiritualised products while denigrating fellow human beings. He served humanity by making elegant technology, not by maintaining healthy relationships with those around him.

From a business perspective, it was inspiring to read about his commitment to the vision: the passion for simplicity. The founding of the Apple store, the drive and courage to produce the iPod, iPad and iPhone, the stories are powerful and uplifting . Indeed the story is a big part of his business success - Ross Perot paraphrased it and got a lot of it wrong, but people wanted to retell it because it inspired people.

His genius for selling manifested at his product launches. He was at ease making multi-million dollar deals. He didn't try and play God - there were loads of people who felt cheated by him, but he wasn't bothered. The Pixar subplot was astonishing. To have played such a role in animation, on top of everything else, was just incredible.

But as a human being, he was an untreated compulsive. He was insanely fussy in his demands of Apple technologists, but he showed the same attitude to the people who cooked for him, or treated him for his illness.

I loved the book and read it in a week. I feel I need to have a bigger vision for my life and business for the next 10 years - so I'm grateful for that.

- holden_adams

Walter Isaacson has done an incredible job writing this book. It seems accurate and candid. This is no sycophantic tribute. However, it is still a tribute the the genius and vision of a remarkable man and what he created by sheer determination, obstinacy and self belief. It is people like Steve Jobs who change the world and make our lives so much better. I did not really know much about him, and my only Apple product at the time of reading this biography, was my trusty old ipod.
After reading this book, I am full of admiration for the genius of this man and the incredible legacy he has left behind for us all. I was fortunate, in that we chose it for our Self Development bookclub, and were therefore able to stretch it over 5 sessions. It allowed us to do justice to the book.

- johanna_roberts

Apart from being an interesting read, for me it was also an eye-opening experience regarding my naive belief that I was someone 'in at the start of contemporary computing'. In 1974, I was employed by the John Lewis Partnership and worked on IBM 360/50 and 370/135 mainframe computers. I really did believe I was at the forefront of computing and yet, in California, Jobs and his compatriots were already producing computers that would make the leviathans I was blissfully serving, completely redundant. They probably didn't realise it but they were inventing disruption technology that would change computing from being an unwieldy corporate tool into a personal device to be used whether you worked for a company or just wanted to play games at home. IBM, Burroughs, Univac, NCR,CDC and Honeywell had to either reinvent themselves or disappear over the following years. Most people can remember the early Apple products, some will remember playing Atari Pong in the pub and more, products such as the early home computers. This book takes you back to the genesis of these inventions which came about not just through genius hardware and software engineering but also from enthusiastic use of LSD and transcendental meditation.
A surprising man for a surprising time.

- dwayne_scott

Writing a biographical insight into an extremely complex genius like Steve Jobs was never going to be easy, but this is surely the best one, even if it gets a bit laboured at times. It's seeks to capture the highs and lows, successes and failures of Jobs business and personal life and as such is a fascinating read.

- ibrahim_ruiz

A comprehensive biography that traces the rise of Jobs and his beloved Apple from its modest beginnings to its place as the technological behemoth we see today. Whilst it’s clear from the narrative that Jobs was not an easy man to work with, his genius was unquestionable, as was his ability to disrupt the status quo, and create technologies and processes of which we had not even conceived. The way Steve Jobs stood at the nexus of art and technology is a lesson to us all - he did indeed make us “Think Differently”.

- egypt_kelly

I waited a long time to read this, having bought it not long after it came out. I wanted the space to come to my own conclusions and wanted to read the book on my own terms.

First of all, I think Walter Isaacson did a great job putting this together. I covers all the major aspects of Steve's life and as much as I can tell, it's a fairly objective presentation of the man as he really was. I am a big fan of Apple and have been since the mid nineties. That said, one of my great frustrations is when people in business talk about the need to be "more like Apple", as if it's a tangible choice. It's like saying to win the 100 metres at the Olympics, you just need to run like Usain Bolt - it's not untrue but it's not especially helpful. In my view the book gave some insight into what made Steve Jobs and Apple successful and it also illustrated some of the behaviors that nearly destroyed Apple, many of them manifested personally by Steve Jobs. I find myself asking if you can reach the highest heights in business without burning bridges as you go. It always takes me back to Bernard Shaw..."The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man." To be the "unreasonable man" (and Steve Jobs could clearly be unreasonable), is an easy enough strategy to take. However, success depends on so much more than choosing to be unreasonable by itself and for many of us perhaps it's a sure fire strategy to achieving less.

So if you have an interest in Apple, Steve Jobs, innovation or building business, this book will definitely have something in it for you!

- braelynn_ruiz

Steve was passionate, dominant and wanted to control everything related to products he designed, developed, marketed. He hurt many people in his professional career and didn’t care about it.
I like the part which describes Steve’s Distortion Reality Field and simplicity is ultimate sophistication.
I recommend this book to the Apple product users. I am a big fan and used of most Apple product (and now became fan of Steve Jobs) while reading this book I could correlated all the sequence of event happened in Apple and how the great products were made.
Well written Walter.

- dominik_diaz

Generally I'm not big on autobiographies, but having read Andre Agassi's Open (a gift) in the summer, which I absolutely loved (beautifully ghostwritten by J. R. Moehringer), I found myself more receptive when a friend recommended this.

The story of Steve Jobs and Apple is an mind-boggling spectacular one, and for the extraordinary insight into the man and the company this book is superb. Jobs was, in many ways, a monstrous personality, prone to extreme bullying, abuse and ludicrously unreasonable behaviour. And yet clearly he possessed a magic and a charisma that not only drew people, despite those traits, to him, but inspired profound loyalty and indeed affection.

On those terms, I really enjoyed the book, and I'd definitely recommend to anybody business or entrepreneurially minded, and more generally if you're interested in technology, or just flawed humanity.

All that being said, as a general read I found it plodding and dull, with extremely pedestrian and flat prose. Jobs was a mysterious, almost mystical, figure in many ways, and the absence of even the tiniest element of poetry from the writing loses something, I think. This happened, that happened, he said this, they said that, they met here, he went there. Dull dull dull.

Still, the writing wasn't by any means enough to put me off, and it certainly doesn't get in the way, it just doesn't add anything beyond the factual representations.

All told, definitely recommended for an insight into one of the worlds most extraordinary businessmen.

- kyrie_anderson

This is a really fascinating and seemingly quite an honest portrait of Jobs. He's portrayed as obsessive, rude, driven and yet capable of inspiring great love and loyalty from colleagues, family and friends. His knack for finding the line between controlling everything - in a world where consumers want everything made especially 'for me' - and delivering the consistent experience that these very same consumers want is extraordinary and I thought that the chapter about the development of the Apple stores particularly showcased his ability to put himself in the consumers' shoes, despite the fact he never seemed to (be able?) do the same for the people around him. A great read.

- abram_jackson

I am doing this review on my new IPad, which was, of course, one of the last products conceived by Steve Jobs and his team before his untimely death. I have used a number of Apple products over the years, all of which have proved to be excellent and, in many cases, ground breaking. However, I had no idea until reading the book how Apple started and how difficult things were for the Company in the early years. I was also only vaguely aware that Jobs left Apple for some years and was intimately involved with Pixar, which has produced a number of very memorable films.

Jobs' somewhat strange personal behaviour was something I did not know about until I read this book and overall I felt the Author has produced an excellent, comprehensive and well rounded portrait of a man whose influence on our lives still reverberates years after his death and in all probability will continue to do so for many years to come.

- violet_mitchell

His achievements stand as testament to his vision and creativity, but should his unique style of management be held up as an example to others?

I've spent almost 40 years in manufacturing industry, small and large, private and public, including running my own business and nothing I've experienced would have prepared me for dealing with boss like Mr Jobs. But then no company I've worked for has shown such growth or moved the market in the way his companies did - other than possibly the last few years of my own business, before we sold it.

Did I learn anything? Yes, I did. Could I employ what I learnt? No, not in my present employment: the corporate giant would not appreciate the Jobs style of risk taking and communication.

The book is fascinating, an easy read and should be read by everyone working in a management position within manufacturing industry. But it should be considered a text book for the budding entrepreneur. The message, believe in your vision, remain focussed on targets you can manage and don't get involved in unimportant detail are fundamental.

Highly recommended.

- kalani_adams

It's an excellent read and I really enjoyed the way story was told by Walter. I would recommend this a lot and although the book is around 500 pages it didn't feel like it. It felt like I was going through it quickly because I was so intrigued to know what happens next. Overall, a must read.

- alessia_harris

This is great inside into life and most importantly way of thinking of one of the greatest technology "artists" we have seen so far. Controversial and often emotional yet clearly laying out the story of a man with a vision. What I liked about this book was the fact that it did not judge, in fact did its best to be onjective as much as possible. For me true the beauty was in simplicity and very logical path Steve Jobs was following to achieve what he wanted out of his life and things he created. And that is what i could clearly see in this book. It showed complexity in a very simple and clear way. A definitive must for those who want to know more, see more and achieve more.

- javon_ortiz

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