Steve Jobs – by Walter Isaacson

steve book

Seriously mind blowing!!

Fanboys who dont know much about Steve’s history might find this book very offending because it is blunt, brutally honest and shows no mercy to filter his dark sides. The author says that Steve actually wanted it that way so that people know his character completely and there are no skeletons in closet. Steve’s critics might find this book a great tool to launch their attack against him and his fans in forums by pinpointing to his antics of LSD, short temper, Reality Distortion Field etc which have been mentioned in unofficial biographies like “iCon” but has been explained in great detail and officially authorized by Steve himself.

But those who know some facts about Steve’s history and want to know more about what made the erratic person a genius, might find this book an exhilarating read. What went on behind the scenes. What events shaped up his life. How did the products like Mac/iPod etc come to being from foam models in design labs and underwent hundreds of iterations to evolve into a final launch model. How Steve’s ruthlessness and his quest for perfection could bring the best out of his team. Everything is described with great detail.

The book is divided very well into 42 timeline based chapters, with each chapter describing about certain event or theme and the flow is seamless.

The following are some of the most interesting facts mentioned in the book:

  • He mentions that his spiritual visit to India had been a great learning experience which taught him intuition.

  • “The Autobiography of a Yogi – by Yogananda Paramahansa” is the only book for which he has high regards. He has read that book multiple times and it was the only ebook in his iPad during the time of his death.

  • It seemed like he always knew what had to be done for the next 10 years in the industry at any given point of time.

  • Way back in 1982, Steve had envisioned a slim portable computer (and prepared foam models) which was the size of a notebook and declared that he will launch such a model in 90s when technology matures.

  • In 1985, he experimented with prototypes of devices which were portable & had touch screens but did not consider seriously because the technology was not mature enough to produce something which would fit into his design philosophy of simplicity, portability & ease of usage.

  • He was a maniac when it came to the quest for perfection. During his surgery in 2008, he refused to wear an Oxygen mask because according to him, the design of the mask was pathetic!! So the doctors fetched 5 different masks from different rooms and gave him an option to select whichever he feels is best.

  • The kind of enthusiasm he showed for the development of every product. The tremendous amount of learning he did for materials to be used for his products could have been used as a thesis to fetch him a doctorate degree. For example, the industrial plastics for Macintosh in 1980s, Translucent plastics for iMac, Anodized Aluminium for iPod, Brushed metal for Macbooks, Gorilla Glass for iPhone, Translucent Glasses for the retail stores and so on.

I found it to be a gripping read because I had watched most of his Keynotes, product launches and had read a lot about him which were like dots. This book connects the dots to give a complete picture of the person in particular and about product engineering & industry in general.

Here is an excerpt from the last chapter of the book:

Was he smart? No, not exceptionally. Instead, he was a genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. He was, indeed, an example of what the mathematician Mark Kac called a magician genius, someone whose insights come out of the blue and require intuition more than mere mental processing power. Like a pathfinder, he could absorb information, sniff the winds, and sense what lay ahead.

Steve Jobs thus became the greatest business executive of our era, the one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford. More than anyone else of his time, he made products that were completely innovative, combining the power of poetry and processors. With a ferocity that could make working with him as unsettling as it was inspiring, he also built the world’s most creative company. And he was able to infuse into its DNA the design sensibilities, perfectionism, and imagination that make it likely to be, even decades from now, the company that thrives best at the intersection of artistry and technology.”