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article imageBest-selling author Walter Isaacson talks Steve Jobs biography Special

By Andrew Moran     Nov 23, 2011 in Technology
Toronto - Author of the new Steve Jobs biography, simply titled "Steve Jobs," Walter Isaacson made a book tour stop in Toronto on Wednesday to promote the new book, discuss the Apple innovator and what he was like.
Digital Journal reported in October that the publication date for the new Steve Jobs biography was shortened by a month due to the untimely death of the former Apple and technological pioneer.
The new book, penned by Walter Isaacson, Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and former Chairman and CEO of CNN, looks at Jobs based on more than 40 interviews over two years and hundreds more with friends, family and colleagues. The book goes from the beginning of Jobs’ life to the end.
On Wednesday, Isaacson sat down with Heather Reisman, Indigo’s founder and chief executive, at the store’s Manulife Centre location. In front of a large crowd, Reisman asked Isaacson about how he obtained the job, what Jobs was like and how a college dropout became a PC revolutionary.
The Biography
Isaacson had known Jobs for quite some time. When he was a political correspondent and national editor at Time in 1984, Jobs would show him the Mac, but was upset that he was not voted Time’s Man of the Year.
“Even then, you could see both sides of Steve. He would just show how the icon was done, and why they did rectangles and what the algorithm was and incredibly great he was and he was so furious that they hadn’t made him Time Man of the Year and had written a bad story about him and that’s when you saw the petulance but also the perfectionism in him,” explained Isaacson.
“It was then that I realized that petulance and perfection are kind of linked like how software and hardware of great Apple products are linked.”
The best-selling author of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin biographies joked that Jobs was his best friend for two days of the year when a new Apple product came out.
Jobs asked Isaacson if he could do a biography on him back in the summer of 2004, and this was before the iPhone, iPad and other well-known products were released. “I thought that was a little arrogant, you know? [I’ve done] Ben Franklin, Einstein...”
He explained that it wasn’t until 2009 that he realized Jobs was battling cancer and that it would be a great opportunity.
Best-selling author of the new Steve Jobs biography  Walter Isaacson.
Best-selling author of the new Steve Jobs biography, Walter Isaacson.
Summing up Jobs
One of the first words that Isaacson used to describe Jobs was: emotional. Jobs, according to Isaacson, would cry quite often. He would cry about his family, he would cry about his work and he would cry about life in general.
Isaacson also described Jobs as a perfectionist, artistic, technologist, engineer and businessman, but “kindness would not make the top 100.”
“He could connect the art to the engineering and drive that,” added Isaacson. “Everything he did had this happen.”
The president and CEO of the Aspen Institute provided an example of when Jobs was six years old working on a fence with his father in California. He and his father, an auto mechanic who did not go to high school, were building a fence and his father said they would have to make the back of the fence as beautiful as the front of the fence. The young Steve questioned it and said no one would ever know. His father responded: “Because you will know.”
The old Macintosh did not have any screws and you could not open it up. One day, Jobs was looking inside the Mac and called it ugly because the chips were not lined up. The engineers said you did not need to line them up, but Jobs said that he wanted them to line up.
When the engineers said that you can’t open it up and no one would know, Jobs responded: “Because you will know.”
Once the Mac was finished, Jobs gave them a poster for them to sign their name and put it in the Mac because “great artists sign their work.”
One of many tributes to Steve Jobs outside of an Apple Store.
One of many tributes to Steve Jobs outside of an Apple Store.
Leading the PC Revolution
During the 1960s in northern California, you had the drug-inducing and rock music hippies. Over in Silicon Valley, you had the brilliant engineers. With Steve Jobs, you had the best of both worlds.
When he attended high school, Jobs would attend after-school lectures that Hewlett-Packard held. He later became a summer employee and worked with Steve Wozniak. In 1972, Jobs enrolled in Reed College,where he dropped out after one semester. He did attend, though, auditing classes.
Isaacson labelled Wozniak as the engineer, especially with the Apple 1 and Apple 2, and Jobs was the artist.
“He understood enough of the engineering to know how to push a chip to do amazing things,” said Isaacson. “He starts at Atari as a summer job. He learns the simplicity and beauty. We remember Pong and Breakout and Atari Games. But they had to be simple enough that a stoned freshman could figure it out so instructions are insert quarter, avoid kling-on. He was attracted to no manual.”
After his travelling experience to India, where he wanted to find enlightenment and a guru, Jobs came back and understood the limits of rational Western thought and learned the value of intuition and spiritual wisdom.
Bill Gates
During the early 1980s, Bill Gates went to California from Seattle because he was hired to write software for the Mac during the time that Jobs was creating the fast Mac.
Jobs feared that Gates would copy it.
“Gates sees the beautiful graphical interface of the Mac... and Gates copies it and creates Windows and it takes a while for him to create Windows because it stinks,” explained Isaacson. “Not only does he take the look and feel of the Macintosh graphical interface, Bill Gates licensed it around promiscuously. Meaning, he’ll create Windows and let any junkie hardware maker from Lenova to IBM to Hewlett-Packard to Compaq use it. Whereas Steve Jobs was such a perfectionist that he wants an end-to-end integration of the hardware and software.”
During the summer, Gates told Isaacson that he wanted to go visit Jobs. Unfortunately, Jobs called Gates a “jerk.” Eventually, though, Gates went to his house and went in the back door and to the downstairs area.
They then spoke for four hours to talk about their history. Isaacson was in the room during the entire time.
“Bill said, ‘I never thought the end-to-end integrated closed system would work. But you showed it would work, that’s amazing, you proved to me I was wrong, the end-to-end model works.’ Steve, as I said wasn’t always gracious, said to him, ‘Well, you know, your model works as well licensing it out.’”
The next day, when Isaacson was piecing everything together, Gates told him that he didn’t tell Jobs that the end-to-end integrative model works only with a Steve Jobs, “a real artist, someone with a real passion.”
Isaacson went to tell Jobs the next day, but Jobs responded: “What an a—hole.”
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