The late Steve Jobs has often been described as rude, arrogant, prickly and, as a boss, very difficult to please. One of his main personality quirks was that he simply would not take “no” for an answer. When told that something could not be done, he would simply say, “Yes, it can”. And, he would persist with this mindset through endless revisions of an idea or product until, at last it was perfect.
The career and influence of Jobs on the world is explored in-depth in a new book entitled, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and published by Simon & Schuster. The research that went into this book is mind-boggling. Over a period of two years, the author interviewed Jobs 40 times and conducted more than 100 interviews with his friends, relatives, competitors, adversaries and colleagues.
The result is a 627-page tome that looks formidable, but reads beautifully. In fact, because of Isaacson’s clarity of thought and elegant writing, it could easily be called “a page-turner” in the best sense of the word. The following is a very brief synopsis of this work.
Overview Here is one of the best ways to think of Jobs. His passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing and digital publishing. One might even add a seventh, retail stores, which Jobs did not quite revolutionize, but did reimagine.
The Beginning When Jobs was in the fourth grade he began acting up in class. A smart, insightful teacher, Mrs. Hill, decided that her disruptive student was bored out of his mind, so she arranged to have him tested. “I scored at the high school sophomore level”, Jobs says. The school proposed that he skip two grades. His parents decided, more sensibly, to have him skip one grade.
After high school, he attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, dropped out and went on a seven-month journey through India “to find his guru”.
Making History As the world knows, he teamed with Stephen Wozniak where both worked in a garage to create their dream. A milestone for the personal computer occurred on Sunday, June 29, 1975. As Wozniak says, “I typed a few keys on the keyboard and I was shocked! The letters were displayed on the screen. It was the first time in history that anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on their own computer’s screen right in front of them.”
Naming Their Creation Seeking a name, Jobs proposed “Apple Computer”. According to Jobs, “it sounded fun, spirited and not intimidating. Apple took the edge off the word computer. Plus, it would get us ahead of Atari in the phone book”. (In 2010 one of the original Apple I computers was sold at auction by Christie’s for $213,000.)
When Jobs and Wozniak turned their fledgling partnership into the Apple Computer Co. in January 1977, they valued it a $5,309. Less than four years later they decided it was time to take it public.
It would become the most oversubscribed initial public offering (IPO) since that of Ford Motors in 1956.
By the end of December, 1980, Apple would be valued at $1.79 billion. Yes, billion. In the process, it would make three hundred people millionaires.
All of the above is just a taste of the extraordinary facts and figures that appear in the first half of this book. For more information about NeXT, Pixar, iPhones, iPads, iTunes and Apple stores, please pick up a copy of this book. You’ll be inspired.