Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs hits bookstores tomorrow, mere weeks after the Apple CEO died of pancreatic cancer. The 600-page tome, titled Steve Jobs, promises never-before-heard details about the complicated genius at the heart of the technological world, including photos of his family and revelations from the tech giant's past.
Adding on to our article on 10 Things to Know from Isaacson's Steve Jobs, here are ten more details you probably didn't know about the reclusive innovator, from his inability to micro-manage to his admiration of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg for not selling out.
1. Adoption Made Him Special.
Jobs remembers learning he was adopted when he was very young. At first, he was distraught at the news, taking it to mean his birth parents hadn't loved him. His adoptive family, however, told him the opposite: they had picked him out, because they knew he was going to do great things. From then on, Jobs said, I realized I was not just abandoned. I was chosen. I was special.
2. Apple is a product of Buddhism.
The day Steve Jobs died, Oct. 5, was the same day HBO aired Living in a Material World, Martin Scorsese's George Harrison biopic. Jobs and Harrison shared more than fame and some experience with LSD, however: both were also deeply influenced by trips to India.
When Jobs and his college friend Daniel Kottke traveled to India, the Apple legend returned with a shaved head and traditional Indian clothing, rooted in focus and simplicity as the driving factors in his life. According to biographer Walter Isaacson, his Buddhist beliefs carried through to his work. One of the most famous Apple ad slogans, Think Different, is taken from the Dalai Lama.
In his final interviews, during his struggle with pancreatic cancer, Jobs began to consider the afterlife, as well. This also had an effect on Apple products. Though he found himself thinking more and more about an afterlife, he would often dismiss it: It's just like an on/off switch. He told Isaacson that's one of the reasons he didn't like putting on/off switches on Apple devices.
3.Steve Jobs was fired from Apple.
By the mid-80s, when Jobs was turning 30, the company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak was already a $2 billion corporation. But in May 1985, Jobs was fired from Apple by the new CEO, John Sculley, whom Jobs himself had lured away from a lucrative position as president of PepsiCo. Isaacson credits creative differences as the main reason for the split between the two men.
Jobs, however, had once told Sculley that if technology didn't work out, he would be happy to be a poet living in Paris. Taking the middle road, Jobs bought up a struggling animation company from George Lucas. That company's name was Pixar. By the time Jobs got back into Apple, first as interim CEO and then as the returning head, he had become more open to new ideas, and would become known to champion creativity and a liberals arts balance in the world of science and technology.
4. Jobs was The Thinker, not The Manager.
According to Isaacson, Jobs believed that the normal rules didn't apply to him. Though this made him a brilliant innovator, it could backfire when it came to running a corporation. Jobs was one of the world's worst managers, Isaacson said. He was always upending things and throwing things in turmoil.
At the same time, alternative thinking was also what drove Apple forward, making Jobs the voice of the company even when he wasn't the CEO. [Steve Jobs] could drive himself by magical thinking, Isaacson said, getting workers to do more complicated tasks in less time than anyone would have thought possible.
5. Jobs Felt Most Rivals Just Don't Get It.
Apple is not the same as Google and Microsoft, and Steve Jobs does not want you to forget that fact. Microsoft never had the humanities and the liberal arts in the DNA. It was was a pure technology company, Jobs said, claiming Google was just the same. They just don't get it.
He also voiced his skepticism, in the upcoming bio, of Microsoft head Bill Gates' supposed successes. Jobs had a sometimes-cordial, sometimes-contentious relationship with Gates. Bill end[ed] up the wealthiest guy around... But it's not really my goal, Jobs told Isaacson. And I even wonder in the end if it was really his goal.
The one tech legend Jobs did feel got it was Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook. We talk about social networks in the plural, Jobs told Walter Isaacson, but I don't see anybody other than Facebook out there. He also said he admired the young entrepeneur for his boldness. I only know him a little bit, Jobs remarked, but I admire him for not selling out. For wanting to make a company.
6. Jobs Was Up Front About His Mean Streak
Steve Jobs is remembered by many for his vision, not for his warm and fuzzy personality. Jobs could be very abrasive. In one anecdote, Isaacson describes how when Apple started making money, co-founder Steve Wozniak starting giving away his options to share the wealth. Jobs refused, and when an engineer told Job he would give stock to another employee if the CEO would match it, he had a retort ready. Yeah, I'll match it, Jobs responded. I'll give zero, and you give zero.
Walter Isaacson, however, was not the one pushing for Job's prickly side to be known. Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, told Isaacson in the beginning not to whitewash his biography, and Jobs himself, before he died, insisted he be known for his flaws, which he often saw as his strengths.
I feel totally comfortable going in front of everybody else, you know, [and saying], 'God, we really f*cked up the engineering, didn't we? Jobs told Isaacson in one of his interviews.That's the ante for being in the room... We're brutally honest with each other, and all of them can tell me they think I'm full of sh*t, and I can tell anyone I think they're full of sh*t.
7. Jobs Used Alternative Medicine to Treat His Cancer.
When Apple devotees learned that Jobs, a visionary of the future and brilliant new technologies, had put off a surgery that could have saved him from pancreatic cancer, many were dumfounded. Isaacson stresses that the reason Jobs put off the surgery was purely personal, and deeply emotional.
He [didn't want] to feel violated in that way, Isaacson records. Before resorting to surgery, Jobs attempted to treat the disease using alternative medicine. He tries to treat it with diet, Isaacson wrote at the time. He goes to spiritualists. He goes to various ways of doing it macrobiotically and he doesn't get an operation. By the time Jobs did have surgery, nine months after being diagnosed, the pancreatic cancer had spread through his tissues and was largely unstoppable. He died soon after.
8. Gates Admires Jobs, Despite the Apple CEO's Harsh Words.
Gates and Jobs were both fascinated and dismissive of each other from almost the moment they met, a pattern that continued up to Steve Jobs' death. Though Gates called Jobs fundamentally odd and weirdly flawed as a human being, the Microsoft head came to view the Apple CEO as a revolutionary. He never really knew much about technology, Gates said, and had a weird mode of either saying you were shit or trying to seduce you. Despite this, however, he had an amazing instinct, Gates would recall, for what works.
Steve Jobs, however, never fully reciprocated Gates' acknowledgements. While sometimes praising aspects of Microsoft, and even while remaining clsoe to him as a colleague, Jobs could be incredibly biting about the Microsoft head's potential. Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, Jobs said. I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas.
In a more colorful moment, Jobs also took a shot at Gates for his actions in the 1960s, or rather, his lack thereof. He'd be a broader guy, Jobs has been quoted as saying, if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.
9. Steve Jobs Still Wanted To Help Obama Get Re-Elected.
Despite not being as impressed with the Commander-in-Chief as he'd hoped, and his warning to Obama that he would be a one-term president, the Apple guru still hoped to get the Democrat in for a second term.
Jobs told Isaacson that the root of his frustration with Obama lay with his advisers' obsession with why things could not be done as opposed to what could, in fact, be accomplished. He gave up in 2008 after having a similar experience with David Axelrod. Despite his reservations, however, Jobs kept in touch with Obama, and the Apple CEO and American president talked on the phone several times. He even offered to help design Obama's political ads for the 2012 presidential campaign, though nothing came of the offer.
10. Jobs Authorized the Biography So His Kids Could Know Him.
Walter Isaacson last met with Jobs a few weeks before his death, when the Apple visionary was to weak to climb stairs. When asked why he had agreed to let Isaacson interview him, however, the answer had nothing to do with his work, or his tech legacy, or the desire to one-up any critics by laying himself bare before they could.
Instead, Jobs authorized a full biography for his children. I wanted my kids to know me, Jobs reportedly said. I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did. Jobs, who died at 56, left behind three children from his marriage to Laurene Powell Jobs, as well as a daughter from a previous relationship, Lisa Brennon-Jobs.