Steve Jobs: the genius rebel who saw the world – computers included – differently from the rest of us.
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Despite that, his introduction to the book could leave prospective readers with the wrong impression. Isaacson acknowledges being charmed by Jobs, possible foreshadowing for a fawning portrait. Instead, the book is anything but hagiography, to the benefit of all involved. As Jobs tells Isaacson in their final interview, conducted earlier this year as the Apple chairman lay dying, “I know there will be a lot in your book I won’t like.”Skip to next paragraph
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That there is, mostly in the form of rudeness, verbal cruelty, and neglect. As the mother of his first child says, “He was an enlightened being who was cruel. That’s a strange combination.”
He was also a genius, as Isaacson makes clear through anecdotes, interviews, and clear-eyed analysis of Jobs’ life and career.
Given up for adoption by his Syrian father and American mother, Jobs grew up middle class in northern California. He displayed intelligence and defiance from an early age, traits that stretched into adulthood. Rules never applied to Jobs, which explains why his cars never had license plates, his personal hygiene was atrocious, and he often padded through high-level corporate meetings in bare feet.
Paul and Clara Jobs adopted Steve upon birth. Even after learning he had been adopted, Jobs considered Paul and Clara his true parents and never acknowledged or contacted his biological father even after learning his identity as an adult.
Paul Jobs was an inveterate tinkerer who restored cars and sold them as a side job. Though electronics captured Steve’s imagination from a young age, a sense of craftsmanship in everything Paul Jobs did also caught his eye.
“He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see,” Jobs said of his father, recalling a trait that any Apple engineer or designer could appreciate (and sometimes lament). Bevels, rounded edges, and all of the other perfectionist touches included in Apple products started with Jobs watching his father build fences, cabinets, and cars.
Jobs, like Gates, dropped out of college and never earned a degree. After dabbling in psychedelic drugs, communal life, and veganism at Reed College, Jobs decided he had no interest in pursuing a traditional course load.
In typical fashion, he talked his way into an unusual arrangement, negotiating with the school to audit classes of interest and skip the rest. One of those classes he sampled, calligraphy, later contributed to the way that the Macintosh would spur a desktop publishing revolution with its array of fonts, impeccable spacing, and attention to every detail of typography.
Emotionally, Jobs was immature and bratty almost without fail. Temperamental artist would be a euphemistic description in his case.
In the rest of his life, Jobs ran well ahead of the pack. As a fourth-grader, he tested at a 10th-grade level.
Even after dropping out of Reed and wandering through India on a spiritual quest, Jobs still managed to found Apple and take it public in December 1980, a move that made him worth a quarter of a billion dollars at age 25.