Steve Jobs bio hits shelves this week

Steve Jobs was more than just an entrepreneur: his business prowess and technological innovations have practically earned him celebrity status. Even if you don’t use them, there’s no denying that Apple’s products — from iPods to Macs, and iPads to iTunes — have changed how we work, play and interact with the world. Jobs’ leadership is credited with making Apple a force to be reckoned with.

But how did Jobs do it, and what was the man really like? What would he say about his life and work, and what did others really think of him? Despite his famous face, much of Jobs’ life has been shrouded in secrecy. This week, a new biography named after the man himself aims to satisfy our curiosity about one of the reputedly biggest innovators of our time.

While its debut comes mere weeks after Jobs’ death, the biography has been in the works much longer than that. Seven years ago, Jobs first approached Walter Isaacson — author of biographies of famous innovators like Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin– to write his biography. In the years that followed, Isaacson conducted over forty interviews with his subject — as well as talks with more than 100 family members, friends, colleagues and even Jobs’ adversaries and competitors.

Though Jobs contributed to this book, his say didn’t go beyond the interviews, according to publisher Simon & Schuster. He didn’t want any editorial control — in fact, he didn’t even want to read the book before it was published. He encouraged others not to hold back, and unashamedly embraces his darker nature. The result: Not only do you get to hear Jobs’ candid and frank opinions, but the “unvarnished” views of his friends and foes. The book offers a look at his passions as well as his demons.

Naturally, the book has been generating a lot of buzz in the media this week. Here are some details already emerging:

– Jobs had a dark side. Reviewers and the author himself point out that the public face most of us saw could be very different from the brutally honest, ruthless and sometimes cruel personality that others experienced. In an interview on 60 Minutes, Isaacson describes Jobs are being “petulant” and “brittle”, and notes that he could be “very, very mean to people”. Jobs demanded perfection, and had little patience for people who didn’t measure up.

– He didn’t play by the rules. According to an article on CNN Tech, he used to drive his Mercedes without license plates so people couldn’t track him. In his earlier days, he was once relegated to the night shift at Atari due to complaints from coworkers because he refused to shower.

– The rumour is true: Jobs’ biological father, who ran a restaurant in Silicon Valley, did in fact meet Steve Jobs in his restaurant. (And apparently Jobs was a good tipper.) It was only later that he learned Jobs was his son — but the two never met again.

– Despite his massive wealth, Jobs tried to live as normal a life as possible. While we’re used to seeing him in black turtlenecks rather than designer suits, his home in Palo Alto is reportedly as unremarkable. Jobs wanted to resist the lavish lifestyle of the rich, instead opting for a regular house on a regular street — no security fences or winding driveways in sight.

– His biggest regret: not having surgery sooner. After his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2004, Jobs went against doctors’ orders and delayed surgery for over nine months while he tried alternative treatments first — like a special diet. He wanted to avoid surgery at all costs because he didn’t want his body opened up. Sadly, by the time he finally consented to the operation, the cancer had spread to surrounding tissues.

– Death motivated him. Facing his own mortality changed Jobs — not just his spirituality, but his entire approach to life. It helped him focus, and during the last years of his life he eschewed travel, instead giving his attention to the development of new products.

“We all have a short period of time on this earth,” Jobs is quoted in the book. “We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well. None of us has any idea how long we’re gong to be here nor do I, but my feeling is I’ve got to accomplish a lot of these things while I’m young.”

Want to see more? Check out the interview with Isaacson on last night’s 60 Minutes:

Part 1

Part 2

For more information about the book, visit Simon & Shuster Canada.

Idolize him or ignore him, it would be hard to argue that Jobs hasn’t had a huge impact on the technology market.

Check out our previous articles on Jobs:

Remembering Steve Jobs
Top 5 ways Steve Jobs made our lives better

Plus, watch for next Tuesday’s enewsletter when we look at more great business books. (Not a subscriber? Join us here.)

Sources: 60 Minutes, CNet, CNN Tech, The New York Times,, PC World

Are you curious to read the bio, or will you give it a pass? Share your thoughts in the comments below.