Steve Jobs' Biography by Walter Isaacson Excerpts

A new biography of late Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs hit book-shelves on Monday, offering arguably the most comprehensive, insightful look to date at the life and times of the revered technology visionary.

Below are excerpts from the tome, penned by Walter Isaacson, relating to Apple and Jobs’ sometimes stormy, often difficult relationship with Silicon Valley, partners and rivals, and how Jobs communicated his key business beliefs.


Jobs was wheeled into a board meeting on August 24, 2011, the day he handed Apple’s reins to Tim Cook. As Jobs’ health deteriorated, he wrestled with the decision for weeks, discussing it with his wife, board member Bill Campbell, design chief Jonathan Ive and attorney George Riley.

When he finally made up his mind, arrangements were made to have him driven to 1 Infinite Loop and wheeled into the boardroom as secretly as possible. “One of the things I wanted to do for Apple was to set an example of how do you transfer power right,” Jobs told Isaacson. He added later that evening that his hope was to remain as active as his health allowed.


Isaacson’s account of Jobs’ blow-up over Google’s entry into the smartphone market underscores the subsequent animosity he bore toward one-time Apple board member Eric Schmidt.

Jobs felt betrayed because Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had treated him very much as a mentor. In 2008, he got into a shouting match with the pair, as well as with Android chief Andy Rubin, at Google’s headquarters. Jobs had offered Google an icon or two on the iPhone’s home page; but in January 2010, HTC released a phone with multi-touch and other iPhone-like features that prompted Jobs to sue.

“Our lawsuit is saying, ‘Google, you fucking ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off.’ 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. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this,” Jobs told Isaacson the week after the suit was filed.

“They are scared to death, because they know they are guilty. Outside of Search, Google’s products — Android, Google Docs — are shit.” Schmidt met with Jobs for coffee days later, but Jobs remained enraged and nothing was resolved.

“We’ve got you red-handed,” Jobs told Schmidt. “I’m not interested in settling. I don’t want your money, If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android.”


Jobs’ infuriation stemmed partly from a fundamental conflict between Android’s open-source approach and his own belief in a closed, carefully controlled ecosystem.

“We do these things not because we are control freaks,” he said. Addressing users’ concerns, he said: “They are busy doing whatever it is they do best, and they want us to do what we do best. Their lives are crowded; they have other things to do than think about how to integrate their computers and devices.” “Look at the results — Android’s a mess …. We do it not to make money. We do it because we want to make great products, not crap like Android.”


Jobs’ well-known tirade against Adobe Systems Inc’s Flash multimedia software may have had its roots in the 1980s. Apple had invested in Adobe in 1985 and they collaborated to popularize desktop publishing. But in 1999, Jobs — after returning to Apple – had asked Adobe to make its video-editing software available for the new iMac but the company refused, focusing instead on Microsoft Windows. Soon after, founder John Warnock retired.

“I helped put Adobe on the map,” Jobs told Isaacson. “The soul of Adobe disappeared when Warnock left. He was the inventor, the person I related to. It’s been a bunch of suits since then, and the company has turned out crap.”


Isaacson describes an exchange with Ryan Tate, editor of the tech gossip site Valleywag, that offers glimpses into Jobs’ steadfast belief in carefully curating the types of applications available for downloading on the iPhone.

Tate emailed Jobs decrying Apple’s heavy-handedness and asked: “If (Bob) Dylan was 20 today, how would he feel about your company …. Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with ‘revolution’? Revolutions are about freedom.”

According to Tate, Jobs replied after midnight: “Yep … freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.”

When Tate mentioned pornography was just fine with him and his wife, Jobs got snarky. “You might care about porn when you have kids. … By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others’ work and belittle their motivations.”

Tate told Isaacson he was impressed by Jobs’ willingness to spar one-on-one with bloggers and customers.]


“Antennagate” – a faulty iPhone 4 antenna design that caused occasional dropped calls — received a mountain of publicity, and Jobs came out publicly to acknowledge the mistake and announce a fix. But one little-known incident came to light in Isaacson’s book.

Jobs, alerted to the possible defect while in Hawaii, first became defensive, then anguished in a conversation with director Art Levinson. Jobs brushed him off. But where Levinson failed, then-COO Tim Cook prevailed — by quoting someone as saying Apple was becoming the new Microsoft.

“Let’s get to the bottom of this,” Jobs apparently said the next day. After reviewing AT&T Inc data, he realized there was indeed a problem and flew back from Hawaii, while marshaling his defenses: public relations guru Regis McKenna, admen Lee Clow and James Vincent — and his son Reed, then a high-school senior. “I’m going to be in meetings 24/7 for probably two days and I want you to be in every single one because you’ll learn more in those two days than you would in two years at business school,” Jobs said he told his son. “You’re going to be in the room with the best people in the world making really tough decisions and get to see how the sausage is made.”


Jobs had many ideas and projects that he hoped to develop. Apart from wanting to delve into the textbook industry, he also wanted to make the television simple and elegant. “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” he said.

“It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you can imagine. I finally cracked it.”


Jobs’ wanted a showcase headquarters, something that no West Coast technology company had, according to the biography. To achieve that, Jobs hired the architectural firm of Norman Foster, which he considered to be the best in the world.

The final design resembled a spaceship, a four-story, circular building with a massive interior courtyard on a 150-acre piece of landscaped land. The design was finalized after multiple iterations as Jobs got very involved in the planning, both in the vision and details.

Foster’s firm assigned 50 architects to the team, and every three weeks throughout 2010 they showed Jobs revised models and options, Isaacson wrote. The building was initially shaped like a winding race-track made of three joined semicircles around a large central courtyard. But when Jobs showed off the design to Reed, the teenager joked that the aeria…

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