Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson


Last weekend I finished Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I bought the hardcover book when it was first published in October 2011. But then I have been looking at this beautiful hard binding book but didn’t start reading it thinking of its very large volume. Finally, I bought the audible version of it and went through it. A few times I listened to it in Audible while also reading the pages of hardcover book at the same time. I found that listening is quite faster than actually reading. Also, I found the writing style of Isaacson very engaging. No wonder Jobs wanted him to write the biography. I found it a fascinating tale about a visionary but difficult man!

Jobs was a genius at connecting art to technology, of making leaps based on intuition and imagination. He thought outside of the box; built amazing, simplistic, stylistic products ruthlessly following the passion without listening to others. He revolutionized seven industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, digital publishing, and retail stores.

Highlights from Jobs’s life.

  • Born 1955 in San Francisco.
  • Jobs was abandoned by his biological parents and adopted within a few months of birth.
  • Jobs left Reed College after the first semester but hanged around for one and a half years there.
  • Met Stephen Wozniak who was a wizard of machines and became best friends.
  • Jobs and Daniel Kottke traveled to India in search of spiritual enlightenment in 1974.
  • Wozniak engineered and Jobs sold Apple I.
  • Apple II was a real deal, backed by 250k funding from Sequoia VC.
  • Girlfriend got pregnant but Jobs ignored the daughter
  • Built Macintosh PC inspired by GUI designs of Xerox PARC. Team included Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, Joanna Hoffman, George Crow, Burrell Smith, Jerry Manock.
  • Jobs took Apple to IPO in 1980
  • Jobs hired Bill Atkinson in 1979 to develop Apple Lisa, led by John Couch
  • Apple went public on December 12th 1980
  • Jobs Hired Pepsi President John Sculley to help run Apple as CEO in 1983.
  • 1984 Ad for Mac is often considered as the greatest commercial ever
  • Partnered with Bill Gates / Microsoft to write application programs for Mac. Licensed Microsoft’s BASIC and developed Excel for Mac.
  • Wozniak quit Apple to work on his own remote control project
  • Board sided with Sculley in 1985 and Jobs had to leave Apple
  • Jobs started NeXT by taking a few key employees from Apple to develop education workstations. He received investments from billionaire Ross Perot.
  • Spent 100k just for a logo design
  • Jobs bought the majority stake from George Lucas in 1986 and branded it as Pixar to work on animations
  • Jobs married Laurence Powell in 1991 and his first daughter Lisa moved in with them at Palo Alto house
  • Pixar went public after the release of Toy Story
  • Apple chose to license NeXT OS and hardware
  • Apple lost to Windows and IBM in the PC market
  • Jobs returned back to Apple in 1997 as the advisor to CEO after the 427 million USD acquisition of NeXT by Apple
  • Jobs started Think Different campaign
  • Got rid of all product lines except 4 resulting in large layoffs
  • From 1.04 billion USD loss of 1997, Jobs turned Apple to make a profit of 309 million USD in 1998 via iMac G3 and its innovative design
  • Mac OS X came from NeXT
  • Introduced Apple Stores (2001) and Genius Bars
  • Introduced iTunes after buying the startup SoundJam
  • Brought iPod in 2001 which had scroll wheel, pure white color, iconic ads
  • Cancer diagnosis
  • Standford commencement address 2005
  • Tim Cook helped when Jobs was on sick leave for surgery
  • iPhone was released in 2007 with multi-touch
  • Released iPad in 2010 including a virtual keyboard
  • Mad at Android
  • App Store
  • Antenna problem in iPhone 4
  • iCloud
  • New signature Apple office campus
  • 2011 health deteriorating Jobs resigned making Tim Cook CEO of Apple
  • Jobs died in 2011 at the age of 56 due to pancreatic cancer.
  • Jobs was also benefitted by the other legend, his friend at times and rival at other times, Bill Gatets of Microsoft. Together they led the revolution of computer indsutry and modern cosumer devices.

Some notable quotes –

  • The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.
  • Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
  • You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.
  • Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.
  • Do not educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy. – So when they grow up they will know the value of things, not the price.
  • One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.
  • If you act like you can do something, then it will work.
  • People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint
  • The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
  • I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t. It’s the great mystery.
  • Picasso had a saying – “good artists copy, great artists steal” – and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.
  • You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.
  • Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Out job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
  • Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
  • On the day he unveiled the Macintosh, a reporter from Popular Science asked Jobs what type of market research he had done. Jobs responded by scoffing, “Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”
  • You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.
  • Steve Jobs had a tendency to see things in a binary way: “A person was either a hero or a bozo, a product was either amazing or shit.”
  • In the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years of your life, your habits make you.
  • I think the biggest innovations of the twenty-first century will be the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning, just like the digital one was when I was his age.
  • Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.
  • The reality distortion field was a confounding mélange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand.
  • Form follows emotion.
  • Reality has an odd habit of catching up with satire.
  • On Startups: “I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on.”
  • The best and most innovative products don’t always win…(it’s an) aesthetic flaw in how the universe worked.
  • I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out.
  • Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep.
  • …never let a passion for the perfect take precedence over pragmatism.
  • I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company. The whole notion of how you build a company is fascinating.

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