Walter Isaacson, authorized biographer of Apple founder Steve Jobs, was on 60 Minutes last night approximately 24 hours before his biography becomes available in book stores around the world. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know just in case you missed it.
The biography is made up of over one hundred interviews of Steve’s acquaintances as well as forty interviews of Steve himself. Steve initially requested Walter interview him over seven years ago (which Walter thought was a tad presumptuous). What Walter didn’t know was Steve was just about to undergo surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Walter mentioned that Steve could be quite rude to people – a waitress at a local restaurant, a guy who stayed up coding all night. When asked why he acted this way Steve replied, “I really want to be with people who demand perfection. And this is who I am.”
Steve’s adoptive father Paul influenced Steve to become quite the perfectionist. When working on a fence during Job’s childhood, Paul said, “You’ve got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show you’re dedicated to making something perfect.”
The Bay Area where Steve grew up also influenced him quite drastically. Surprisingly, Steve dropped acid, listened to Dylan music but also had a passion for electronics. He did the night shift at Atari because nobody wanted to be near him – he walked around barefoot and didn’t bathe.
Steve’s simplistic style was inspired during a seven month trip to India. His encounters with Zen Buddhism encouraged the notion that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Rules Don’t Apply to Steve
According to Walter, Steve felt that traditional rules didn’t apply to him – he didn’t have respect for authority. This was demonstrated by not having license plates on a Mercedes sports coupe.
Job’s cancer was discovered in 2004 during a routine scan for kidney stones. In the beginning he tried natural remedies. It wasn’t until four years later in 2008 he moved on to conventional medicine. Jobs continued to have secret cancer therapy even though he was telling everyone he was cured.
Steve focused more on the iPad and the iPhone during the last 2.5 years of his life. He also began to see the importance of spending time with his family. During one of his last interviews with Walter Steve reflected about death by saying, “Maybe it’s ‘cause I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear. The wisdom you’ve accumulated. Somehow it lives on,” he said on tape. He paused and went on, “Yeah, but sometimes I think it’s just like an on-off switch. Click and youre’ gone. And that’s why I don’t like putting on-off switches on Apple devices.”