In this audio book memoir, Brent Schlender gives us an account of the person Steve Jobs was. Schlender was a long time journalist who focused on technology. He interviewed Steve Jobs many times. The first time Schlender interviewed Steve Jobs, he felt like he was being interviewed. Steve Jobs was a very confident individual that asked others many questions. Additionally, he liked to tell people what they should do in their personal matters.
Steve Jobs was born in 1955. He was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. When interviewed he said it never bothered him that he was adopted. Steve Jobs was a brilliant student. The school had recommended that he skips two grades based on exam scores. His parents agreed to let him skip one grade. In high school he met Steve Wozniak. Wozniak liked to build computer circuits. Jobs would attend Reed college after high school. He would drop out after a semester, but kept attending classes here and there. Steve told Schlender that he wasn’t certain what he wanted to do. Reed college was not cheap and he didn’t want his parents wasting money on college tuition.
Steve Jobs would get one of his first jobs at Atari. He showed them a board that Wozniak created and Atari hired Steve. Atari thought Steve created the board. Steve succeeded at Atari. He worked on special projects for Nolan Bushnell, to earn enough money to take a spiritual enlightenment trip to India. After the trip to India, Steve Jobs got into meditation and psychedelic drugs. During interviews he spoke about the use of LSD in opening up his creative side. I am not advising the illegal use of psychedlic drugs. I am repeating what Steve Jobs thought about them.
Bushnell offered Steve Jobs $700 to help him make circuit boards for a new Atari game. Jobs had to reach out to Wozniak for help and offered to go 50/50 with him ($350). Bushnell was so pleased with the work that he gave Steve Jobs an additional $5K. Jobs still only gave Wozniak $350. This financial inequality was the way of Steve Jobs and would follow him for the rest of his career.
The Apple I was built in Jobs garage by Wozniak. It was Steve Jobs that was working on selling the product. They were able to produce more systems because they were funded by an Intel employee. They achieved greater success when they unveiled the Apple II, also created by Wozniak, except for the unique case the system was in. To grow the company further, Jobs recruited John Sculley from Pepsi to serve as CEO. Steve Jobs was a difficult person to work with. Two years after Scully became CEO, Scully and the board decided to remove Steve Jobs from the company that he started. Steve Jobs was devastated and looked for a way to come back.
In 1985, Steve Jobs founded NeXT computer. His expenses in the new venture were through the roof, as he was trying to depict perfection. Perfection from the building that they worked in to the computer itself. The original $7 million invested in the new venture was depleted quickly. Ross Perot stepped in to bail Steve Jobs out. NeXT achieved success when the company fully transitioned into Software development. They released WebObjects.
In 1986, Steve Jobs bought a company which he later renamed Pixar. In the mid-90s Pixar studios was utilizing a new graphics technology that would allow the use of cartoon rendering mixed with realistic depictions. In partnership with Disney, Pixar released some great movies that made the company a significant amount of money. The first two enormous hits were Toy Story (1995) and A Bug’s Life (1998).
In 1997, Apple purchased NeXT. In the deal, Steve Jobs once again was an employee of Apple. Shortly thereafter, he got his CEO position back.
In the late 90s, Shawn Fanning had achieved great popularity by introducing us to Napster. It was peer-to-peer software that allowed users to download music from other users. Steve Jobs did not like the idea that people were restricted to their computers to listen to MP3s. Technically, at the time it was possible to store MP3s on a CD and listen to a portable CD player. But Steve Jobs had a revolutionary idea in mind. He learned that a technology came out that could store 2GBs on a mere 2 inches. In 2001, this led him to the creation of the iPod. It was a device that used the small hard drive to create a small portable mp3 player. It had a single track wheel that could be used to browse through the stored songs. It was marketed so well, that everyone had to have it. Steve Jobs utilized WebObjects to create the iTunes store. He revolutionized the sale of MP3s. Previously, people bought a CD for about $15 which may have had give or take 15 tracks. He worked out deals with record labels that would allow people to buy only the track they wanted at 99 cents.
The later iPod models had the ability to look at photos and watch videos. Steve Jobs wanted 1) for people to have the ability to purchase items in the iTunes store directly on their device and 2) to have access to the internet at all times to connect to photos and videos. In 2004, the creation of the iPhone had begun. They stalled on the project a bit because Steve Jobs wanted the technology to be out there for the phone to work the way he wanted. In 2007, Apple had an exclusive agreement with AT&T to sell the iPhone. With that exclusive agreement Steve Jobs managed to get many financial benefits. A nice percentage of sales, part of all new contract agreements, only Apple can set the price on the phone, etc.
In 2004, Steve Jobs had successful treatment for his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, it would come back and he would succumb to it on October 5th, 2011. The book shows Steve Jobs as an interesting character that may be hard to deal with, but a creative genius. He found a great company. When ousted he founded the best animation studio Hollywood has. Then he found a computer company which was failing. Then he turned that around to a successful software company that built the software to create iTunes. He revolutionized the way we listen to and buy music. Then, he went ahead and revolutionized the way we use our cell phones. At one point Apple’s computers weren’t really selling. Steve Jobs changed the look , utilized a linux based operating system, and now Apple systems are used by most creative thinkers. He definitely didn’t do everything himself. But he was creative and knew how to spot it in others. He always expected and returned perfection in his products. This book was far more in-depth than any Steve Jobs based movie or special that I have seen.