It’s not the first book to attempt to decipher Apple’s co-founder, nor will it be the last. But Becoming Steve Jobs may be the most rounded yet. Written by two tech journalists, Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, this kind of unauthorized biography shows us all the nooks and crannies of Jobs over the 20+ years that were directly related.
One of the main drawbacks that has been thrown in the face of Jobs’ official biographer, Walter Isaacson, is that with only 40 interviews over a couple of years he was unable to capture his true essence. Something that the current Apple itself has been in charge of transmitting:
While we may dismiss Cook’s words as an attempt to protect his company and mythologize his co-founder, there are other people throughout the book who express similar opinions . But the real cotton test for me is the clues about his personality that are torn apart with every page of the book.
From beginner to leader of a large technology company
It is a path to maturity for one of the most influential characters in recent history
Becoming Steve Jobs shows us just that. The evolution of “a reckless upstart into a visionary leader”. The stories about his bad manners towards others come mostly from the early years of his meteoric career. But they ignore the fact that Jobs went through a series of experiences that made him mature and become a better leader. And a better person.
His time at the university and subsequent dropout. The flirtations with drugs and his spiritual journeys. The Apple I and the founding of the company of the same name. The tremendous success of the Apple ][. The original Macintosh. His dismissal from the company he helped build. His family. NeXT. Pixar. Toy Story. The return to Apple and the beginning of a new golden age. The original iMac. iPod. iPhone. iPad. And finally, a long illness.
Steve Jobs’ story told in this book is one of maturity . Something that can be perceived in this quote from Jobs himself:
Maybe I’m naive, but someone who says these words doesn’t do it to look good . He says them because he really believes in them.
The old Apple and the new Apple are the same
In this book you can see parts of the same philosophy that the company has today
There’s one episode that particularly caught my attention. It’s about the time when Steve Wozniak had designed one of his first prototypes of the Apple I. Together with Jobs they went to the famous Homebrew Computer Club, an association of electronics fans obsessed with fiddling with all kinds of devices .
This place grew thanks to the appearance of the Altair 8800, a device that proved that having a microcomputer at home was feasible. It was no longer necessary to stand in line at the university to place punch cards in a room-sized computer. The Altair made programming even more accessible. For them, that was what was really interesting.
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However, when Woz presented the final version of his Apple I, a computer that only needed to be plugged in with a keyboard and monitor, the reaction of this peculiar audience was very cold. They didn’t see the point of having a computer that didn’t need to be adjusted . It was a comprehensive solution that solved all the problems they loved to solve.
Their presentation was not in vain, as an electronics store owner became interested in the prototype and commissioned them to manufacture hundreds of units. This was the starting signal for the most valuable company in the world.
From this story, we can see the birth of Apple’s true philosophy: a product in which technology disappears in the face of the user. Where technology does not stand between the user and the result . Of course, this way of doing things needs compromises. We have witnessed several such cases over the years:
- The elimination of the 1998 iMac floppy disk drive.
- The absence of Flash on iOS devices since 2007.
- A DVD player that disappeared from MacBook Air in 2008.
- Or the latest port removal on the new MacBook.
Shortcomings that generated controversy among technology enthusiasts and marked the launch of such successful products as the iPad. Bite apple products have always been targeted at a specific part of the consumer market, but at a wider and more general audience than the current Homebrew Club “hobbyists”. The Apple founded by these two kids more than 35 years ago has the same philosophy as the one we have today.
Becoming Steve Jobs is an exciting book about both Jobs and the company he co-founded and ran for over two decades. An exciting read for any consumer technology enthusiast . The only snag we can find is that right now it’s only in English.
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