Technology

The Soon-To-Be-Released Steve Jobs Biography Does Not Appear To Be Boring

Like me, you’ve probably already pre-ordered Walter Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. Of course you have. So you’ll probably sympathize with me on this: when tidbits about the book started circulating around last night and this morning, I was really trying hard not to read any of them, seeing as how the book is scheduled to arrive at my door on Monday. But ultimately I caved, and, well, HOLY SH*T!

Honestly, of the details that are now out there, I really don’t know where to begin. They’re all so damn interesting. But here are a few that I found grabbed me the most, almost all of which reveal Jobs to be a stubborn as$hole he was long rumored to be.

The AP’s story on the book revealed some fascinating details, including dishing on Jobs’ smoldering disdain for former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and the Android phone…

The book also provides insight into the unraveling of Jobs’ relationship with Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and an Apple board member from 2006 to 2009. Schmidt had quit Apple’s board as Google and Apple went head-to-head in smartphones, Apple with its iPhone and Google with its Android software.

Isaacson wrote that Jobs was livid in January 2010 when HTC introduced an Android phone that boasted many of the popular features of the iPhone. Apple sued, and Jobs told Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google’s actions amounted to “grand theft.”

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

On Jobs’ spiritual beliefs…

The book says Jobs gave up Christianity at age 13 when he saw starving children on the cover of Life magazine. He asked his Sunday school pastor whether God knew what would happen to them.

Jobs never went back to church, though he did study Zen Buddhism later.

On how Jobs came up with the name “Apple”…

Jobs told Isaacson that he tried various diets, including one of fruits and vegetables. On the naming of Apple, he said he was “on one of my fruitarian diets.” He said he had just come back from an apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

On what Jobs was like as a CEO…

Jobs was never a typical CEO. Apple’s first president, Mike Scott, was hired mainly to manage Jobs, then 22. One of his first projects, according to the book, was getting Jobs to bathe more often. It didn’t work.

Additionally, the Huffington Post’s report on the book also revealed some interesting stuff, such as Jobs’ up and down relationship with President Obama…

Jobs, who was known for his prickly, stubborn personality, almost missed meeting President Obama in the fall of 2010 because he insisted that the president personally ask him for a meeting. Though his wife told him that Obama “was really psyched to meet with you,” Jobs insisted on the personal invitation, and the standoff lasted for five days. When he finally relented and they met at the Westin San Francisco Airport, Jobs was characteristically blunt. He seemed to have transformed from a liberal into a conservative.

“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

Though Jobs was not that impressed by Obama, later telling Isaacson that his focus on the reasons that things can’t get done “infuriates” him, they kept in touch and talked by phone a few more times. Jobs even offered to help create Obama’s political ads for the 2012 campaign. “He had made the same offer in 2008, but he’d become annoyed when Obama’s strategist David Axelrod wasn’t totally deferential,” writes Isaacson. Jobs later told the author that he wanted to do for Obama what the legendary “morning in America” ads did for Ronald Reagan.

On Jobs’ belief that he would die young…

Jobs once told John Sculley, who would later become Apple’s CEO and fire Jobs, that if he weren’t working with computers, he could see himself as a poet in Paris. “Jobs confided in Sculley that he believed he would die young, and therefore he needed to accomplish things quickly so that he would make his mark on Silicon Valley history. “We all have a short period of time on this earth,” he told the Sculleys. “We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well. None of us has any idea how long we’re going to be here nor do I, but my feeling is I’ve got to accomplish a lot of these things while I’m young.”

The New York Times, in their piece on the book, noted Jobs’ stubborn decision not to undergo surgery for nine months after he was initially diagnosed with cancer, a decision some medical experts think doomed him…

Friends and family, including his sister, Mona Simpson, urged Mr. Jobs to have surgery and chemotherapy, Mr. Isaacson writes. But Mr. Jobs delayed the medical treatment. His friend and mentor, Andrew Grove, the former head of Intel, who had overcome prostate cancer, told Mr. Jobs that diets and acupuncture were not a cure for his cancer. “I told him he was crazy,” he said.

Art Levinson, a member of Apple’s board and chairman of Genentech, recalled that he pleaded with Mr. Jobs and was frustrated that he could not persuade him to have surgery.

His wife, Laurene Powell, recalled those days, after the cancer diagnosis. “The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body,” she said. “It’s hard to push someone to do that.”

I’m so dying to read this. I suppose I’ll spend the weekend in bed waiting, just like this.

(Jobs haircut pic via Vice)

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