What I’ve learned so far halfway through the Steve Jobs book

I’ve really been enjoying the book by Walter Isaacson called simply, Steve Jobs. It’s a very comprehensive dive into Jobs’ entire life.

Believe it or not, I haven’t always been an Apple fanboy (though I am now, which becomes clear when you see this and read this). I’m not afraid to admit it now, however. I’m a huge fan of most of their products because, admit it or not, they’ve had a few hits over the years.

But before I tried my first Apple product, sometime around five or six years ago, I was the typical PC guy that scoffed at Apple, making fun of the fanboys and not ever really having tried any of their products.

So this book for me is extremely interesting because I didn’t know a lot of his history. Plus for much of his career I was just a kid. Like when the infamous 1984 commercial came out, I was six. I probably missed that one.

Some things I’ve learned halfway through the book:

– Jobs was kind of extremely crazy different. For example, he was an extreme eater, usually a vegan but often fasting or picking one food, like apples, and only eating that for weeks.

– He was a true genius. Certainly in the sense of what he accomplished but also in that social way that most geniuses are.

– He was more volatile than I realized. He could be amazingly brutal to people.

– Everything to him was black or white. Or more appropriately, “shit” or “awesome”. It forced perfection in the things he and his teams produced.

– He only cared about money because it was a symbol of control, but he didn’t really care about the money itself. He didn’t live in a mansion. He didn’t spend money on ridiculous toys. For a few years when he came back to Apple as interim CEO, he turned down all their salary and stock offers and only wanted $1 a year. After two and a half years he decided to become the CEO (they had begged him constantly and he finally succumbed), he then demanded a personal jet and an inordinate amount of stock, almost certainly to make sure that Apple, and the world, knew who was in charge.

– He was a huge hippie, doing a great deal of pot and LSD. Not that it matters, but it’s interesting. He stated once that people that had never done LSD would never fully “get” him. I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend.

– He was adopted, which is only interesting to me as we recently adopted. There is speculation in the book that some of his characteristics are due to him being adopted, though who knows.

– His relationship with Bill Gates is fascinating to read. At times the closest of partners, at times the fiercest of competitors. And incredibly different in almost every possible way. And both owe a lot of their early success to the other.

– The original iPhone had a spin wheel ala the iPod. Can you imagine?

– The iPad was actually being created before the iPhone. The touch screen interface we love on the iPhone today was taken from the original iPad designs.

The book is really a great read, I can’t recommend it enough.


  1. Sherry Heyl on November 17, 2011 at 10:31 am

    You are little further in the book than me. A couple of things I noticed is how accurate the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley is. I already know much of what the book reveals because of that movie. I also think that the book does a good job showing how important Woz was to the revolution. 

  2. Jeff Hilimire on November 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Two great points Sherry. I loved the Pirates of Silicon Valley movie, need to rewatch that. And yes, Woz was so critical early on and the book does a good job of showing his involvement.  I really respected how he handled things at almost every point along the way.

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