Book Review: Steve Jobs

November 4, 2011


Still not getting back into normal habit around here, huh? Well, I am not sure when I will finally get back into the groove, but at least I am posting something today. Anyway, recently a big figure in the computer world died and I read in the newspaper, which I rarely, if ever, read that he had declared a vendetta against Android in his biography. The article was published in the Las Vegas Review Journal on Oct. 24, 2011, which was the official release date of the biography, even though I thought I saw it in iBookstore earlier than that.

When I found out about it, though not immediately, I purchased two copies from Barnes & Noble, electronic and print. Today's post is a review on the biography, which is called Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

The book talks about the life of Steve Jobs, just like any other biography. However, most of the other biographies, which were about people other than Steve Jobs, I have read focused on the person's life. In this biography, it is more like a history of PCs and Apple, which Jobs was heavily involved, while he was alive. Unlike other biographies, Steve Jobs focused on something other than just the person.

As I am very interested in the technology, I really enjoyed this book. There were things that everyone would have heard about, especially due to the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, such as the Blue Box, Apple II, Windows coming out before Mac OS. Those were interesting even in the book. Of course, there were also interesting details that almost nobody knew. For example, the infamous iSlate, which turned out to be the iPad, was being designed before the iPhone was even released, contrary to what was publicly stated. According to the biography, the iPhone was originally supposed to use the same wheel as the original iPod. However, it was found to be clunky and upon learning that there was a tablet project that used a touch screen, Apple implemented it in the iPhone. Personally, I am glad that the iPhone used a touch screen. Otherwise, the product probably would not have been good. Much of book discussed the history of Apple products.

On Other than hand, it was not all about computers or Apple products, there were in the book that about Jobs that I really liked or found interesting. For example, Atari did not want to hire Steve due to his body odor and hippie appearance, but his proclamation of not leaving until getting hired. Normally, businesses would not give such a man a job, but he got it. In addition to getting a job a Atari, it stated something that suggested to me that he and Steve Wozniak dealt with the making, but most likely not right from conception, of the game I know of as Breakout, most commonly referred to as Brick Breaker now. The game, for those that do not know, is a variation of the beloved game of Pong that has one paddle, instead of two, and the player hits the ball towards bricks. Furthermore, Jobs complained to Obama about the educational system. In one of their meetings together, Jobs stated that Principal should be able to hire and fire teachers based on how good they were. In the book, it stated that Steve had a liberal political view on things, but I, even though my views are usually conservative, agree with the statement. Steve was revealed to follow his own ways and saw weaknesses in things. He and Steve Wozniak even helped bring out Breakout.

Despite the fact that most his accomplishments were technology realms, such as those of Apple and Pixar, I really enjoyed how the book pointed out his lows, especially from the words of his friends, family, enemies, rivals, colleagues, employees, and ex-employees, such as when he was ousted from Apple and his failure with NeXT being due to the fact that he wanted everything made by his company and wanted even factory machinery a certain way. To me, it showed that he was human, just like everyone else. Those flaws were also something that showed that he mostly lived as himself, and not trying to be somebody else. The few times he did worry about a public image were when either slander or something private about him was published. Those were most likely not the only times, but some of the few mentioned that I remember, and will mention here. The book rarely, if ever showed that he cared about what others thought of him.

Enough! You sound a bit like an Apple fanboy. Do you have anything bad to say about this book? There not a whole lot that I can say that is bad, either because I enjoyed it or the electronic version was a bit annoying, due mainly to the reading application, which would not affect the product as a whole. I did not like how the book seemed to flip flop between past and present (according to the books chapters) and future (the world we are in now). Normally, in books, even biographies, things flow chronologically, but the book, at times, marched us straight back a few years or so almost every chapter. I will admit that covering both a person's life and all of their accomplishments and/or creations within certain time frames is quite difficult, but flip flopping between time period can confuse readers, just like one of my own books did. Outside of that, I cannot really think of anything bad, which may be due to my interest in technology, which I stated earlier.

Despite the fact that there were time inconsistencies, I would say that the book was fairly well done. It showed the high points, mainly in the technology realm, and his low points, just as the writer intended. It even showed that he lived as himself. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in computers or technology or who is a fan of Apple. As for everyone else, it may be good to skip the title, as it covers more about his achievements in technology than Jobs himself, although it does talk about his personal life.

Love him or hate him, I doubt that we would be where we are today without Steve Jobs. No doubt, somebody would eventually bring the things that Jobs brought about, but it would probably have been a longer time than if he had not. Thanks to him, people were able to purchase computers for themselves, instead of having to use the mainframes that were dominant in the past.

What are your thoughts on this review? Did I get anything wrong, since, I was trying my best to avoid too many spoilers (not too sure if I succeeded or not at that)? Was the book itself wrong on anything, which the writer admits may be in some cases? Feel free to leave a comment.

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