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Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
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Steve Jobs (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Walter Isaacson (Author)

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6,929246944 (4.14)76
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years, as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues, the author 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 twenty-first 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 nor even the right to read it before it was published. 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. -- From publisher.… (more)
Member:mamarracq
Title:Steve Jobs
Authors:Walter Isaacson (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2011), Edition: 1st Edition, 656 pages
Collections:Your library
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Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011)

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The book traces Jobs' life from birth to near-death. Born to unwed parents, age 23, who were not ready for a family, Jobs was adopted as a newborn. His parents (the ones who raised him) never made any secret of his adoption, and made it clear to him that they chose him. Any idea that he was unwanted should go out the window. Nevertheless, in later years Jobs preferred to think of himself as having starting life "abandoned", and felt that this affected his personality. I found this thinking a little ridiculous and even a ploy for some kind of sympathy or attention.

The primary focus of the book is on Jobs' obsessive drive. He was able to mow down anyone in his path, most of the time. When he could not, he would become unbelievably angry. As if it was his right to have whatever he wanted, almost like a spoiled child. At work, others came to think of his having an alternative view of reality: sometimes he outright misrepresented the facts; sometimes he simply willed things to be as they actually were not. The use of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), for example. The interface was developed by Xerox and essentially stolen by Jobs when he saw that Xerox did not know what to do with it. So when Bill Gates moved in the same direction with Windows, Jobs said he had stolen it from him. Gates, needless to say, saw it differently.

He could be very difficult to work for. He needed adulation but at the same time would not countenance anyone afraid to challenge him. Although his outbursts were famous (everything was either "perfect" or "a piece of shit"), Jobs got it done. Many who worked under him said it was hard, but they also said that they produced things that they never thought they could. I think this came from his clear possession of a kind of genius. People will forgive a difficult personality if it comes with the vision to do something amazing. They will listen and they will do what they need to do.

One of the important points of Jobs' philosophy, to me, was his dedication to "creating great products" rather than "making a lot of money". It was clear to him that, during the time he was away from Apple from 1985 until 1996, the company was run by someone who was interested primarily in making a lot of money, and therefore almost drove the company into the ground.

When Jobs was in the hospital on one of his many visits there with cancer, he railed against the design of many common hospital products - oxygen masks, for example. I have had the same reaction many times, so can really understand this. My problem, clearly, is that I do nothing about it.

Jobs said that he never did market research, because people don't know what they want until you show it to them. Certainly this was true of what Apple produced. It makes a great deal of sense to me intuitively. When I am asked if I would like this or that feature in some product I usually don't know for sure. It is only when I try it that I can tell if it is valuable to me.

The story of the life of Steve Jobs is well worth reading, especially for the insight into how a company can become great and stay great over the long haul. I wonder, though, if it is possible to take on the role of someone like Jobs, a unique individual, and continue to create products the way he did.

( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
The first item of note on this book is that it was written by Walter Isaacson. When I learned about this book around the time of Steve Jobs’ death, I assumed that Isaacson was a journalist, and that he had pulled this together over the preceding year or so. This was an underestimation of the circumstances.

Isaacson has served as the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and has served on the Board of numerous corporations and NGOs. Time listed him as one of the 100 most influential people. So Isaacson is not just a journalist, and he is not the kind of person that normally writes books about living people (the only exception to this is that in 1992 he wrote a book about Henry Kissinger). Isaacson is a person that understands a lot about power and dominant culture.

I got my first Mac in middle school, when my aunt and uncle gave me their old Power Mac G4. I set it up in the loft in my bedroom, and was able to use dial up to hook up to the internet.

For high school, I was able to save up and purchase an iBook. I was the only person that brought a laptop to class, and I used it to diligently take notes.

By the time of the iPhone 3G, I decided to camp out in front of the AT&T store in Northampton with my friends. MassLive ended up interviewing us.

Since that era, I’ve also had a MacBook Pro, followed by two MacBook Airs, as well as two iPad 2s, and an iPod mini. So I’ve extensively experienced the second generation of Apple products.

So I’ve been a fan of Apple products for many years. On the other hand, I’ve never purchased Apple stock (I don’t really believe in the investment paradigm). I also am an advocate of open-source and Free Software. I appreciate the ways in which Apple’s business model is much more compatible with user privacy than ad-based models like Facebook and Google. On the other hand, I wish that Apple found a way to embrace a more open-source model.

When I decided to learn a bit about Jobs around the time of his death, I came to the conclusion that he was a domineering tyrant that exploited Eastern spirituality to fuel a capitalist enterprise. I also concluded that Apple, as a pioneer of wireless technology, would be looked back on as the Marlboro of the 21st Century, as wireless technology increases the risk of cancer (and could have contributed to Jobs’ demise).

Now that I serve on a corporate Board at a company with visionary founders, I thought it time to take a more careful look at Jobs’ life from the perspective of entrepreneurship and governance. Although this wasn’t Isaacson’s intent in crafting the book, there’s a fair bit of information that comes through about this aspect of Jobs’ trajectory.

At the end of the book, Isaacson concludes that Jobs’ creativity and drive were degraded by his abusive and manipulative tendencies. In other words, there are no excuses for the ways that Jobs mistreated those around him, and they likely detracted from rather than enhanced both his success and the success of enterprises he was engaged with. This is a reassuring judgement.

It is common to think that Apple is Jobs’ company; I hadn’t realized that Pixar was as well. Jobs purchased 70% of Pixar in the ‘80s with proceeds from his first era at Apple, and sold it to Disney in the ‘00s to become Disney’s biggest shareholder. Jobs took a twelve-year hiatus from Apple from ’85 to ’97, but otherwise was involved with the company from when he founded it at the age of 21.

Jobs had a premonition from early adulthood that he would have a short life. So it is no surprise that he died at the age of 56 after eight deathly years of cancer.

There are countless fascinating tidbits about Jobs’ life (his Syria heritage, his time in India, his fascination with minimalism), and if these are of interest to you, I recommend reading the book.

If there is one superpower that Jobs had, it was focus, and being able to communicate the importance of that focus. Companies should do one thing well. Big companies should do maybe three things well. Jobs was excellent at this.

The most touching moment in the book was the humility that Jobs had when he met Bob Dylan, his hero. For all the disregard Jobs paid most people, he was had butterflies in his stomach when meeting Dylan. ( )
  willszal | Sep 1, 2020 |
great brutally honest biography - i liked his support of cancer research in the end ( )
  bsmashers | Aug 1, 2020 |
Man, it seems like there was a lot of screaming and crying going on in the Apple Offices. And then the weird bromance with John Skulley, which didn’t work out so well. The supporting cast—Steve Wozniak, best friend, Larry Ellis, and his wife, Laurene Powell—all seem like cardboard cutouts. What is clear from this book is how critical Steve Jobs was to the creation and, later, the reinvention of Apple with the iPod, the iPhone, and iPads. But by the end of the book, I didn’t really feel like I knew much about him, except that he was dedicated to integrated closed systems and a stickler for product introductions. I felt like I missed something along the way, but maybe that’s just the way he was. ( )
  mtbass | Jul 17, 2020 |
This is a very well researched character study of a most famous person. The defining phrase was "reality distortion field". A few people were immune to it. Most succumbed. Toward the end of the book, as Isaacson documented the years of cancer it was more about his fight with cancer and less about his fights with people.

It took a while - I finally realized how Apple could make such great products with such a volatile eccentric boss with such abusive people skills. His Jekyll & Hyde personality was coupled with a perfectionism. He alternated between abusive and charming depending partially on whether he was trying to get something from a subordinate or peer. I assume that the perfectionism is what made those great products possible.

There was a part I wanted to quote, but it's already been returned to the library. The wife of John Sculley went to talk to him. She asked him to look into her eyes. Instead of seeing a soul, she saw a vast emptiness. That, to me characterized the book - someone with a lot of drive, but absent human feelings.

I want to read some of the other biographies by Isaacson. ( )
  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 229 (next | show all)
Steve Jobs dreamed of a legacy that awed people. He wanted to be in the pantheon of great product innovators, indeed surpassing Edwin Land and even his early icons William Hewitt and David Packard. But, Jobs created more than great products. Just as significant was his ability to create great companies with valuable brands. And, he created two of the best of his era: Apple and Pixar.
 
Isaacson’s book is long, dull, often flat-footed, and humorless. It hammers on one nail, incessantly: that Steve Jobs was an awful man, but awful in the service of products people really liked (and eventually bought lots of) and so in the end his awfulness was probably OK. It is not Isaacson’s fault that Jobs from early on had a “admixture of sensitivity and insensitivity, bristliness and detachment,” as Isaacson describes it, or that Jobs abandoned friends, thought almost everyone else was a shithead, showed little interest in his daughters, and made life generally miserable for anyone who had to provide a good or service to him. But it is Isaacson’s fault that the biography is so narrowly focused on one moral theme. The reader is left to judge, with plenty of evidence both ways—and a clear idea of where Isaacson’s sympathies lie—whether Jobs deserves the Artist’s Exemption.
added by Shortride | editn+1, Gary Sernovitz (Dec 20, 2011)
 
As Walter Isaacson says in this incisive biography, Jobs behaved like a Nietzschean superman, using his will – transmitted through an unblinking stare – as a remote-control device that compelled others to do his bidding.
added by SqueakyChu | editThe Guardian, Peter Conrad (Oct 30, 2011)
 
While Jobs was a vigorous competitor, he also came to view himself as an elder statesman with a responsibility for giving advice to Google’s Page, Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other emerging technology executives, according to “Steve Jobs,” an authorized biography by Walter Isaacson and published by CBS Corp. (CBS)’s Simon & Schuster. It goes on sale Oct. 24.
added by Serviette | editBloomberg, Adam Satariano (Oct 22, 2011)
 
Mr. Isaacson treats “Steve Jobs” as the biography of record, which means that it is a strange book to read so soon after its subject’s death. Some of it is an essential Silicon Valley chronicle, compiling stories well known to tech aficionados but interesting to a broad audience. Some of it is already quaint. Mr. Jobs’s first job was at Atari, and it involved the game Pong. (“If you’re under 30, ask your parents,” Mr. Isaacson writes.) Some, like an account of the release of the iPad 2, is so recent that it is hard to appreciate yet, even if Mr. Isaacson says the device comes to life “like the face of a tickled baby.”
added by LiteraryFiction | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (pay site) (Oct 21, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walter Isaacsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Defert, DominiqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delporte, CaroleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gittinger, AntoinetteÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grasmück, OliverÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mallett, DagmarÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, ElfiÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stumpf, AndreaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werbeck, GabrieleÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. -- Apple's "Think Different" commercial, 1997
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(Introduction - How This Book Came to Be) In the early summer of 2004, I got a phone call from Steve Jobs.
When Paul Jobs was mustered out of the Coast Guard after World War II, he made a wager with his crewmates.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years, as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues, the author 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 twenty-first 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 nor even the right to read it before it was published. 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. -- From publisher.

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À partir d'une quarantaine d'interviews exclusives et de multiples rencontres avec sa famille , ses proches , ses collaborateurs , ses amis comme ses adversaires , l'auteur a constitué d'une façon magistrale et passionnée la vie , l'œuvre et la pensée d'un des plus grands innovateurs et visionnaires de notre époque .

Based on more than forty 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 twenty-first 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 nor even the right to read it before it was published. 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.
Haiku summary
Steven P. Jobs/Innovative, genius mind/Rough around the edge(njvroom)

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