Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

June 30, 2012

Steve Jobs by Walter isaacson is a Must read for 60 some year old computer nerds like me.

People who are crazy enough to think they can change the World are the ones who do – Apple commercial 1997.  Steve was one of those crazy people.

I lived the Apple II, Apple III, Lisa, MacIntosh,… progression while working as a software engineer.  The first computer I ever used was an IBM 1601.  It’s perfieral devices were a card reader/punch and a printer.  To execute a program I had to write the program on a coding pad, then key punch it into a card deck, then run the card deck through the computer, then the computer would punch out a binary program on a card deck, then I fed the binary program card deck in and my program executed.  Naturally, I was blown away by micro computers small enough to sit on your desk with a CRT and a keyboard that you could use to just enter the program.  Then came Viscalc, the predecessor to Excel, and the the PC market exploded.  The Apple II was everyone’s favorite because the competition was the IBM PC and IBM was a huge computer company (David versus Goliath).

As far as we were concerned the Apple II and later the Mac were revolutionary at the time.  The others were junk.

Then Apple fired Steve.  We could not believe it.  First Woz fades away and then Steve gets fired.  Well, as it turns out that was probably one of the best things that could have happened to Steve.

He started NeXT, and the NeXT computer was ahead of it’s time.  Ross Perot invested a chunk in NeXT.  I did not know that before reading the book.  NeXT was ahead of its time in some ways but it was not a business success. They did do some really cool software however which helped Apple rebound after Apple bought NeXT.

Steve also bought Pixar from George Lucas.  Another long story but Pixar ended up hooking up with Disney and  cranked out successful after successful animated movies with unbelievable imagery starting with my favorite, Toy Story.

Meanwhile the plot thickens.  Apple buys NeXT shortly after Toy Story is release and Steve winds up back at Apple as an unpaid adviser.

And, after Steve returns, Apple turns out one new and wildly product after another – the iMac, the iPod family, the iPhone, the iPad, iTunes, iCloud, the Mac Air, Apple Stores, etc.  By 2010 Apple had rebounded from almost out of business to bigger then their arch rival Microsoft.

Meanwhile Steve’s health deteriorates and he has several bouts with cancer.  Of course the big C finally wins and he “passed” in October 5 ,2011.

The author also explores in depth his early years, his family and friends, and his personality.  Speaking of his personality most of us would call him a jerk!  The book starts starts before Steve was born giving a brief introduction into his parents and his adopted parents early lives.  Then it covers Steve’s early life.  His life really begins to get interesting when he meets and becomes friends with Woz and they tinker with electronics.  The rest of his business life is history.  However the book covers his aborted attempt at Reed College, the apple orchard, the pilgrimage to India, his daughter out of wedlock and his refusal to admit the daughter was his for years, the girl friends, his marriage, and settling down, having kids, living in a PaloAlto regular neighborhood.

His quirks are also covered including his reality distortion capability, his strange eating habits like living on nothing but carrots for a few weeks, and his belief that he did not smell and subsequently did not have to wash because of his diet.

All in all a great book. The epitaph on his grave could truly be “He was busy being born”

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