Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Walter Issacson on Steve Jobs

The 60 minutes interview with author Walter Isaacson earlier this week highlighted several things about Steve Jobs that I either never knew or had forgotten. Jobs was adopted; he was raised in Mountain View and attended local schools.  When he met his birth mother in later life, she told him that he had a sister, the novelist Mona Simpson. (Jobs chose not to ever meet his birth father, a man of Syrian descent who owned a restaurant in Silicon Valley.) 

He was a brilliant visionary in business, but a tough competitor and a frequently ruthless employer; Isaacson provided several anecdotes to support this.  Isaacson spoke of him having an alternate reality, which benefited him in his pursuit of Zen-like product perfection.  Unfortunately, his reliance on this “reality distortion field” and his reluctance to follow the advice of medical professionals when he was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer may have shortened his life.   

I saw Steve Jobs once in a restaurant at Stanford with one of his children, dressed in the signature black turtleneck and jeans. He looked just like anybody else, but  Isaacson’s biography makes it clear that he wasn’t just another guy.  The full TV interview is available on the internet; if that whets your appetite for more, the Library has multiple copies of the book-Steve Jobs: a biography.

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