Steve Jobs is the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. The biography was written at the request of Jobs by acclaimed biographer Walter Isaacson, a former executive at CNN and Time who has written best-selling biographies about Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—in addition to interviews with more than one hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Isaacson was given "exclusive and unprecedented" access to Jobs's life. Jobs is said to have encouraged the people interviewed to speak honestly. Although Jobs cooperated with the book, he asked for no control over its content other than the book's cover, and waived the right to read it before it was published.3
The book is described as "[chronicling] the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing."
In just over 600 pages, the book covers Jobs' entire life, from his childhood in his adoptive parents' home in California to his three bouts with pancreatic cancer. Early chapters include one on his relationship with Steve Wozniak and Jobs' brief stint at Hewlett-Packard, Reed College, Atari, and a formative trip to India to find himself. A chapter each is devoted to the development of the Apple I, Apple II, Lisa, and the classic Macintosh during his early years, the founding of NeXT and funding of Pixar when he was ousted from Apple, and Jobs' triumphant and incredibly productive return to Apple starting in 1997. Following the latter "second coming" of Jobs, Isaacson chronicles the development4
of the iMac, iPod, iTunes, Apple Stores, and iPad.
Jobs' abrasive personality, which simultaneously inspired and intimidated those around him, is a recurrent theme throughout. Details of his personal life are also included, including early relationships, his marriage of twenty years, and his four children and his early life.5
The jobs family
Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in the city of San Francisco. His biological mother was an unwed graduate student named Joanne Simpson, and his biological father was either a political science or mathematics professor, a native Syrian named Abdulfattah John Jandali.
Being born out of wedlock in the puritan America of the 1950s, the baby was put up for adoption. Joanne had a college education, and she insisted that the future parents of her boy be just as well educated. Unfortunately, the candidates, Paul and Clara Jobs, did not meet her expectations: they were a lower-middle class couple that had settled in the Bay Area after the war. Paul was a machinist from the Midwest who had6
not even graduated from high school. In the end, Joanne agreed to have her baby adopted by them, under the firm condition that they later send him to college.
Paul and Clara called their new son Steven Paul. While Steve was still a toddler, the couple moved to the Santa Clara county, later to be known as Silicon Valley. They adopted another baby, a girl called Patti, three years later in 1958.
Steve was quite a turbulent child. He really didn’t care about school for some time — until he reached the 4th grade, and had Imogene “Teddy” Hill as a teacher.
She did bribe him, with candy and $5 bills from her own money. He quickly became hooked — so7
were long gone. There was also the problem of donations — universities were used to be given, not sold, computers, in the hope that students would use the same computers in their future corporate careers. Finally, the Cube was not as modern as it would have been had it come out the year before: it was monochrome at a time where color started to appear, its magneto-optical drive was a pain to use, and above all, it had very limited software.
Tough times for Pixar
As for Pixar, it was in a really painful situation by the early 1990s.
First of all, the computer animation department, headed by John Lasseter, had to fight regularly for its survival. Steve Jobs almost shut it down several times throughout 1987 and 1988, until the team had the idea of making animation for TV commercials. That way46
they could survive and keep all the talents they had spent years to gather, while making some money. For all that, work on “artistic” movies did not stop: the team’s Tin Toy got an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1988, and the following year, Lasseter earned critical acclaim for his short Luxo Jr. at the SIGGRAPH convention. Steve allowed for the animation department to continue such work because the prestige could be used for selling more PICs — although, ironically, Pixar only made one short movie on their computer in their entire history: Red’s Dream (in 1987).
However, sales of Pixar Image Computers were still extremely disappointing. On April 30 1990, Steve Jobs announced he was shutting down all of the company’s47
hardware operations, while the staff moved away from Lucasfilm’s premises to new offices in Point Richmond — not far from a Chevron oil refinery. From then on, they would have to focus only on their boss’s new vision: Steve thought that RenderMan was going to become the next PostScript, an open standard adopted by the masses to make 3D renderings at home, just like PostScript had made desktop publishing possible. He was denying the reality of how hard it was to master three-dimensional animation.
If costs were indeed cut a little by this move, it didn’t make Pixar more profitable. The startup was still relying on Steve Jobs’ line of credit, and in 1990 alone, its net operating loss was over $8 million.
In March 1991, Steve went further in his drastic moves to make Pixar survive. He declared he would continue to keep funding it only if he were given back all of the employees’ stock shares.