Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Steve Jobs

This is an extemely fascinating biography of one of the icons of the 20th and 21st centuries. Yes, his life straddled 2 millienia, and he obtained fame in both. Last century, he, with Steve Wozniak, founded Apple Computers, which went on to become wildly successful. In his "Second Coming" towards the end of the last century into the 21st, he reinvented Apple as a company of mobile products which paved the way for Apple to become the most valuable company on earth in this new millenium. Steve Jobs has always viewed Apple as a products company. And his product design philosophy is that it must be simple, beautify and closed. Because of this strategy, and the creative people he goaded to produce of their best eventually created the most beautiful products on planet earth - think iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and before that, the wildly successful Apple ][. Steve Jobs, however, never considered the Apple ][ as his product. That would be the Macintosh computer, which though it introduced many innovative technologies (the graphical user interface, the mouse) flopped as a product.

Yes, Steve Jobs was not perfect even though he demanded perfection in whatever he built. Some people who worked on the original Macintosh computer burnt out working with/for him, as the chronicler, Walter Isaacson, related in the biography of Jobs, simply titled "Steve Jobs".  Isaacson is brutally frank about Mr Jobs in this book. Fortunately, Jobs left him to write whatever he thought he should, and Isaacson did just that, warts and all. It is a very fascinating account. I grew up looking envious at his Apple machines while I bought and used the more affordable IBM-compatible PCs, and wondered about the man. But he was a very private person although he did behave in ways that people either loved him or hated him. Some loved him and then hated him, but strangely never the other way around. Those are the kinds of emotions that one has to go through with him, his wife not excepted.

Jobs was charming, selfish, and spoilt. His exacting ways resulted in highly innovative products that has made fanatics of Apple products the world over. That said, Jobs never always produced the things that became successful. And not all the things that he produced succeeded. Ultimately, his genius was to surround himself with highly creative people, such as John Lasseter of Pixar and Jonathan Ive of Apple, to work his magic through them. All  the rest were bozos to him.

Unfortunately he was so driven that he failed to heed warnings about his health. Some thought that his health was permanently damaged by him running 2 very successful companies - Apple and Pixar - at the same time. But I suppose he wouldn't have had it any other way. He was not a person who listened to others easily. Unfortunately, his strict dieting habits, acquired since young, also contributed to his failing body.

Brilliant as he was, he had to battle the emotional hurt he suffered all his life from the knowledge that he was an abandoned child. One wished he had been able to overcome it, but he never did. This is perhaps the saddest part of an otherwise eventful and creative life. He had done it all. No regrets. RIP.

P.S. I still don't own any Apple product.


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