Amrita RajputOct 06, 2018 17:06:43 IST
Steve Jobs passed away on 5 October 2011. His biography by author Walter Isaacson was published 19 days later, on 24 October. The book landed in my hands before it was Christmas, courtesy: my father; and seven years later, it still remains my most cherished ever.
On Jobs’ seventh death anniversary, here’s a friendly invitation: Read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
Not just because Jobs was a brilliant man; or, because he was the wonderful creator on whose invention I write this invitation; or, because he transformed technology — but because in 2009 he went up to a writer called Walter Isaacson, the author of biographies on Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, with an invitation to write one on himself.
Read it, because Steve Jobs saw himself in this light, and that’s why it is not an ordinary book. He had the last word at all things at Apple, and he wanted that even after he had left this world. He knew he had limited time as he was battling pancreatic cancer. This is why it is the best version of Jobs’ story. He even had a say in how the book would look. The tiniest details. It’s like how he wanted his story to be told. He may not be the writer, but he was the director of this book. It seamlessly switches between being a biography and portraying qualities of an autobiography.
Much has been written about him since his passing. There are a couple of documentaries that you could watch too, or maybe watch the film ‘Jobs,’ if you’re an Ashton Kutcher fan — but none offer a more nuanced detail of his life, than Isaacson’s writing.
When I first started reading it, I was in grade 10. I did not have an Apple device then. All I knew of Jobs, was from, the ever-so-famous Stanford Commencement Speech of 2005 (read the full text here). His words, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life….Everything else is secondary,” stayed with me. Intimidating to look at, the big fat book scared the school-girl in me, but I had to read it.
It was a difficult read back then, but things changed as I discovered a man outside the languages of the newspapers and obituaries. In retrospect, I can say I know why it became more and more easy to read. I found something that liked me back, and that is always a reassuring feeling.
I feel the same love reciprocate while using an Apple device. My iPhone and MacBook Air, are incredibly loved.
Speaking of love, most people know Jobs for his anger. He had a quick temper everytime someone failed to meet his incredibly high standards. Employees dreaded getting into an elevator with Jobs as from one storey to another, you could even be fired. While I learned all this via the media at the time, I also discovered a man a little less famous — a Steve Jobs, who could teach you, love, in the oddest way.
The world somehow is less kind to the good than it is to the bad; it thrives on negative criticism, which is the most fun to write and to read. That's why, it's no surprise if you just knew the angry, irrational, harsh Steve Jobs. The book too does not shy away from descriptions like "a**hole." On the personal front, we see a man whose ex-girlfriend, who was incredibly fond of him, call him narcissistic. He betrayed friends; he denied paternity and he was rude. Then why is it that I say, the book taught me love?
“He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see,” says Jobs' father Paul Jobs.
He increasingly asked people to love what they did. When he was fired from Apple, and he created NeXT computer, he wanted it to be about "interpersonal computing" and not personal computing. It revealed that the ever-so-ruthless Jobs did, after all, believe in human connections. A human connection, that he wanted to strike with people all over the world. That has stayed with me. He also wanted to believe in God and an afterlife, especially when he was ill with cancer.
Besides the man, you also learn the fun stuff at Apple. Like, the Apple Macintosh might've just been called the Apple Bicycle, and you'd have to live with that. #BicycleOSMojave. How's the sound of that?
Jobs called long-time rival and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as "unimaginative." "Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything... He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas," said Jobs. Gates, on the other hand, called Jobs "weirdly flawed as a human being."
While both spoke of each other in words that echo what you just read, they also had immense respect for each other. Don't believe me? Check out this famous interview of Jobs and Gates at a WSJ conference.
Seven years have passed in an absolute flash. Through school, college, and my first job, I have read countless books, but this one remains the most special.
Today, on 5 October 2018, just as much as I admired the early morning flush with sunlight from my bedroom’s windows, overlooking the Mumbai cityscape, I also felt powerless and was saddened wondering how things would be if Jobs was still around.
This year, as I watched Apple unveil the iPhone XS and the XS Max, I was disappointed, because it felt like they launched a product because they had to. The revenue that Apple generates, makes the company the largest corporation of our times. Apple has an unimaginable strength against its competition, and in order to make sure that they do not get complacent, they need to keep launching products like the XS and XS Max. But would an XS Max have been possible if Jobs was still around?
The only way Apple will ever fall behind is when someone, someday comes up with something that will then be better. While we may see few signs of it, I’m certain it will happen some day if not today.
Whether you agree with me or disagree with me, read the book. It will answer many questions.
If you’re someone who’s wondering what to read next, or someone who has never read a big fat book, or someone who wants to read something inspiring, or someone who wants to know Jobs a little more, or someone who loves Apple, or someone who detests Apple, or even someone who hasn’t ever read a book at all — buy and read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
The book has the chaos of a mad riot and the calmness of an early morning sea. Why wouldn’t you want to read something like that?
(at your nearest bookstore, or on Amazon - here's a link)
Tech2 is now on WhatsApp. For all the buzz on the latest tech and science, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Tech2.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.