Saturday, March 25, 2023

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

In this comprehensive biography of Apple Computer’s founding member and longtime chief executive, no matter what his title was at any time, Steve Jobs emerges as both a genius and the most innovative creator of a computer which combined utility and style to become the most cherished brand name in technology. In compiling this compelling, highly readable account of a man who many saw not possible to fully describe, Isaacson has interviewed over 100 people who worked for or with Jobs as well as any number of his family and competitors. Having been chosen to write the biography by Jobs, it never becomes a hagiography, showing the man with all his flaws, many of which contributed to his success.

Steve Jobs was abandoned by his birth parents and adopted by a couple in northern California, his adoptive father was a tinkerer with cars and a lover of automotive design. Nevertheless, despite warm and loving adoptive parents, one of Jobs’ many devils remained throughout his life a sense of abandonment, perhaps leading to his own flaws as both a husband and a parent. Nevertheless, he was born at exactly the right time and adopted at the right place to be well-positioned for the emergence of the technological revolution that became Apple.

 Walter Isaacson may have been the best choice Jobs could have made to write his biography. The book details Jobs’ strengths and flaws in detail without ever seeming to lose contact with the volcanic personality he was exploring. Chosen by Jobs to write the book, he also was able to maintain his independence in order to create a full picture of a genius who was neither a saint nor a villain. Neither was a great computer designer or software architect. He emerges as a person who stood for great design and the highest possible software along with a vision for how such could be achieved and how it could be accomplished and the ability to interpret that to his employees while building a great and lasting corporation. Isaakson maintains that Steve Jobs will live in history as one of the great tech creators of all time. As an industrialist, Isaacson places Jobs in a pantheon with Edison and Ford…pretty high praise. 

Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson, a professor of history at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Visit him at (Simon & Schuster)

I read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 675pp) in a hardback edition I purchased from . It can also be bought for Kindle at I found the book to be highly readable for both general readers and those more interested in sharp, thoughtful analysis of a complex, difficult and important American industrialist. Enjoy!