Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ah, Steve . . .

I just finished reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs.

I can't remember the last time I read a current biography.

I can't remember the last time I was so completely fascinated by a person.

Although I found Isaacson's chapter divisions by topic a little confusing at the end (especially when he separated Jobs's pancreatic cancer battle into complete chapters, making it difficult to trace what he accomplished while he was battling his disease), I was hooked from the first page to the last.

I remember learning to use a computer in elementary school--the first Apple.  I remember NeXT (we had a friend who worked for NeXT in Chicago). I remember the release of Toy Story and the old man playing chess against himself in the park. I remember the blue MacIntosh. I remember my first iPod (second generation--the first one without navigation buttons on the bottom).  I remember anodized colored iPods.  I remember the release of the first iPhone . . . and the second, and the third, and the fourth (and fourth-and-a-half), and now the fifth.  I remember iCloud and iTunes and iPad.  All these terms and gadgets are just part and parcel of our modern-day lives.  Can we really remember life before Apple?

What this book showed me was the man behind these creations--a genius perfectionist who, adopted at birth, always fought against others' tendencies to be satisfied with "good enough."  He was impatient and often cruel, always with his mind set on the design of a beautiful and technically perfect product.  He dropped out of college, dropped acid, refused to bathe or eat meat, and demarcated people he worked with into one of two groups--bozo or brilliant--and your status could change depending on the hour of the day and his mood.

I love how he was portrayed as human and flawed.  No glossy portrait to a superhero, just the truth.  Not the world's greatest husband or father.  Not the world's best friend or most generous philanthropist.  He was just Steve Jobs--a man with vision, temper, and passion for the intersection of design and technology.  A man who loved the company he created and worked every day to surround himself with the best the world has to offer.

Even though I knew the outcome of his cancer battle, I couldn't help myself from thinking--you can beat this, keep fighting.  And when I read the last page, I was left wishing there were a few chapters left of his life--a few more paradigm-changing inventions and designs left for him to share with the world.

Every time I would open my iPad and resume my journey through his life, I would marvel at the irony that I was reading the biography of the man who placed this marvelous invention in my hands.  Every time I would check my email on my iPhone I would remember his devotion to design and the feel of the product in my hands.  Every time I would see the glint of Lily's pink iPod, suspended by signature white earbuds, I would remember his involvement in the iPod ad campaign and the fight to keep the earbuds white.  Many times every day, this man and his vision intersected with my daily rituals--music, books, computers, email.

Isaacson proposes that Jobs will go down in history ranked alongside Einstein and Edison for his vision and contributions.



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  2. I loved that biography. His personal integrity aside, I love the integrity Steve Jobs demanded in the products Apple released (which has waned ever so slightly since he left Apple). He wouldn't launch anything until it was perfect. Such an interesting man.

  3. I love biographies. I think it is always so fascinating to read about others and their lives and what makes them "tick". I'm looking for some recommendations for a book club. Would you recommend this book? Any others you have read recently that you would recommend to a group of women? Kristin

  4. Wish he could have also been kind along with brilliant.

  5. Yes! What a wonderful review!
    Yes also to Dana....with that creativity and a generous even greater legacy he could've left.

  6. I haven't read his biography but my husband has. He truly was an incredible inventor and visionary and yes my life every day is affected by the things he did-- and really even non-apple fans and non apple users are too because he completely changed the face of computers, phones, etc across the board when others copied his inspiration.

    I just hope Apple can stick to it's greatness without his drive and passion

  7. I have been waiting for Brenn to finish the book so I can start...I may have to steal it anyway.

  8. Thank you for doing this review because I've been wondering for some time now if I should read this. I think I will!