Steve Jobs regretted trying to treat his cancer using exotic alternative methods – some of which he found on the internet – rather than having an operation earlier, according to details of his soon to be released biography.
Copies of the Apple co-founder’s 630-page official biography by Walter Isaacson were obtained by select US news outlets, including the Associated Press, CBS News, The New York Times and The Huffington Post, ahead of its release on the 24 October.
Jobs initially tried “fruit juices, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments” instead of traditional medicine, according to the New York Times, a move that distressed his family and friends.
He was diagnosed with cancer in October 2003 but he didn’t have surgery to treat the cancer, a neuroendocrine tumour, until July 2004. However, cancer experts have questioned whether the nine month wait had any impact on how long Jobs survived.
Once he turned to traditional medicine, Jobs spared no expense. The New York Times reported:
“Mr. Jobs was one of 20 people in the world to have all the genes of his cancer tumor and his normal DNA sequenced. The price tag at the time: $100,000.”
Blunt talk for Obama
Jobs had also offered to design a campaign advertisement for embattled US President Barack Obama for his re-election fight next year, while at the same time warning the man in the White House that he might not be in the job for long, according to the Huffington Post.
Jobs only met Obama after holding out for a personal invitation, a fit of typically Jobseian personal pique that caused a five day delay.
While offering a helping hand, Jobs also spoke bluntly to Obama, saying: “You’re headed for a one-term presidency.”
He said that the US was losing out to China due to excessive regulation and costs, and that the US education system was “crippled by union work rules.”
Waging war on Google
The biography also sheds light on Apple’s legal battles over Google’s Android mobile operating system, helping explain the lengths to which Apple is going in courts around the world.
Apple and Google initially had a strong relationship and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt served as an Apple board member from 2006 to 2009. The original iPhone relied heavily on Google services, and still does, but Jobs felt betrayed when Google released Android.
“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said, according to the Associated Press adding, “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
San Francisco-based Associated Press business and technology writer Michael Liedtke posted a number of other nuggets from the biography on Twitter. Jobs turned sour on Google to say the least. In one tweet, Liedtke said:
“Jobs also likens Google products outside of search to defecation, to put it diplomatically.”
Jobs seems never to have forgiven Schmidt for Android, but he did try to mend fences with his successor as CEO, Google co-founder Larry Page. Jobs convened a ‘summit‘ at his home with Page earlier this year after Page called Jobs for some advice. Meeting was relatively easy seeing as they live close to each other. Jobs was as blunt with Page as he was with Obama:
“Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It’s now all over the map.”
The history of the PC
The book also adds important details on the early days of the personal computer revolution that Jobs and his friend and co-founder, Steve Wozniak, helped launch.
Jobs relationship with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was complicated, vacillating from hostile to collegial. Jobs said Gates would have been “a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.” Rather uncharitably, Jobs also said that Gates “just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas”.
But Jobs must have liked Gates on some level, as he discussed early versions of the Macintosh with Gates. At the time, it was simply code-named “Sand”, which stood for “Steve’s amazing new device”.
There’s no doubt that Jobs was a complicated man whose attitudes and way of working wasn’t to everyone’s tastes. His biography will be eagerly anticipated by people searching for an insight into one of the last century’s greatest tech leaders.