back to article Becoming Steve Jobs biography: ‘Much of it was chutzpah and self delusion’

Hotly-trailed biography Becoming Steve Jobs is the first major book on the turtlenecked Apple godhead since Walter Isaacson’s authorised bio. Written by US business journalist Brent Schlender with help from Fast Company editor Rick Tetzeli, primarily in the first person, it arrives strapped Major Kong-style to its own …

  1. kmac499

    Sounds like a very favourable Biogaphy... only crediting Jobs with being 50% asshole.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Genius... No. There's idiot's like him working in every job in America.

      Lucky... Yes. He was in the right place at the right time.

      Asshole... Oh my, yes.

  2. MyffyW Silver badge

    Flawed - like all of us

    As one who has never entirely "got" the Apple bug perhaps I'm ill prepared to comment. That never stopped me yet though so:

    Do we need another book on Steve right now? Probably not. It might be of interest to historians. Not sure I quite see Gates / Jobs in the Edison / Tesla mould. Perhaps history will be kinder than yours truly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flawed - like all of us

      Which diseases did Edison spend Billions on wiping out ?

      Gates was a prick, but he's done a great deal of good with his ill-gotten gains.

      1. ItsNotMe
        Thumb Up

        Re: Flawed - like all of us

        "Gates was a prick, but he's done a great deal of good with his ill-gotten gains."

        Whereas Boy Wonder did just the opposite.

        "Moreover, Jobs had closed Apple’s philanthropic programs when he returned to the company in 1997 and never reinstated them despite $14 billion in profit last year, the Times reported."

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/record-thin-on-steve-jobss-philanthropy/2011/10/06/gIQA3YKKRL_story.html

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Gates was philantropic, not Microsoft

          Jobs closing down Apple's giving in 1997 when the company's future was hanging by a thread is not surprising. Maybe he should have reinstated it, but I think corporations shouldn't be engaged in philanthropy outside their own business anyway. Let the shareholders choose on their own who they want to give to! You can berate Jobs for not doing that with his money, but it is easy to understand why you might be less concerned with fighting disease around the world when you are fighting a personal battle with it.

          The money didn't evaporate when he died, unless his widow is blowing it on useless stuff like donating to political parties or buying megayachts, the money will have to end up with a charity at some point since they didn't want to leave it to their kids.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Flawed - like all of us

        "Which diseases did Edison spend Billions on wiping out ?"

        You seem to be confusing genius with philanthropist. I pretty sure Einstein didn't do much to eradicate disease either.

        1. John Gamble

          Re: Flawed - like all of us

          "You seem to be confusing genius with philanthropist. I pretty sure Einstein didn't do much to eradicate disease either"

          You seem to be confusing capitalism with genius. Einstein didn't have Jobs's or Gates's cash, which is what the original post was about, not their intelligence.

          Jobs's anti-philanthropic measures are just another part of his personality that one has to take into account, just as Gates's work will ultimately contribute to how we assess his life.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Flawed - like all of us

            "You seem to be confusing capitalism with genius. Einstein didn't have Jobs's or Gates's cash, which is what the original post was about, not their intelligence."

            I was refering to Edison and Telsa you muppet, not Jobs. Do try and follow the thread.

          2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Successful - like all of us

            > just as Gates's work will ultimately contribute to how we assess his life.

            BSOD and diseases?

            Or FUD and death and diseased?

            Not picking on anyone in particular but it is rather interesting that some think he has saved people from diseases when he made millions out of operating systems that relied on third party freeware antiviral medication. If he couldn't get his OSs to function healthily, why should anyone believe he can do what every third world US minion has failed to dictate?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Flawed - like all of us

          @ boltar

          Edison was no genius, he was a thief and a crook who claimed other peoples work as his own.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Flawed - like all of us

            "Edison was no genius, he was a thief and a crook who claimed other peoples work as his own."

            Ah, the old he didn't invent the lightbulb meme, it was Swan. Well possibly. But there were plenty of things he could claim credit for. I suggest you look them up.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flawed - like all of us

        @Bahboh

        "Which diseases did Edison spend Billions on wiping out ?

        Gates was a prick, but he's done a great deal of good with his ill-gotten gains."

        Pity Gates didn't invest a few billion wiping disease from his virus infested OS.

        1. Terry Barnes

          Re: Flawed - like all of us

          "Pity Gates didn't invest a few billion wiping disease from his virus infested OS."

          People have a choice of which OS to use. Getting a disease - not so much.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flawed - like all of us

      Clearly the authors / publishers thought there was a market. Guess there are already many books on fly fishing and I'd have no issue with someone writing another one.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perfectionist

    All the Fanboyz swallow the hype about him being "A perfectionist".

    But anyone who actually produces software knows that it is never perfect and everything ships with bugs.

    ( I don't know if this was addressed in the article because I never click beyond the first page when an article should be on one page. )

    1. AIBailey

      Re: Perfectionist

      All the Fanboyz swallow the hype about him being "A perfectionist".

      What about QuickTime!

      Any perfectionist would have taken that buggy POS to the bottom of the garden along with a shotgun and a shovel the moment they were back in the fold. Instead he let it fester and grow.

      Same with iTunes - another widely reviled piece of software.

      For a man who had an eye for detail, especially with hardware, he had a few blind spots for software.

      1. Indolent Wretch

        Re: Perfectionist

        He was utterly self absorbed. Like all perfectionists his only acceptable definition of perfection was exactly what he liked and everybody elses opinions were worthless.

        Since all people have blindspots and idiosyncrasies that's why so much Apple outputted was garbage and so much was great.

        On the one occasion he probably used iTunes/QuickTime himself rather than getting his PA to do it he found it worked fine and the buttons where shiny.

      2. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Perfectionist

        iTunes is reviled, and rightly so, only on Windows. Do you imagine Jobs using Windows all that often?

        QuickTime also ended up saving the company: when Adobe, Microsoft et al said that either Apple could give them an easy way to port Classic OS software to OS X or they wouldn't bother, the Windows port of QuickTime conveniently had a clean independent implementation of enough of the old framework that they could quickly retrofit it to NextStep.

        Which also speaks to the problems with QuickTime and iTunes on Windows, I guess — do you really want every app trying to glue alien widgets and messaging patterns onto your OS?

        1. AIBailey

          Re: Perfectionist

          iTunes is reviled, and rightly so, only on Windows. Do you imagine Jobs using Windows all that often?

          Nope, not at all.

          However, by far the biggest majority of people using Apple products that require/work with iTunes (so I'm talking about iPod/Pad/Phone users) will surely be connecting them to Windows PC's.*

          That's a whole load of people wrestling with software that's widely acknowledged to be horrible!

          * - based on the percentage market share if Apple computers compared to Wintel

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: Perfectionist @AlBailey

            Certainly they will have been historically but I doubt that's true any more. When's the last time you connected your phone — whatever variety — to any computer?

            (and, separately, who's idiot idea was it to graft application, calendar, email account management, etc, into the music player?)

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Perfectionist @AlBailey

              When's the last time you connected your phone — whatever variety — to any computer?

              Today. What's your point?

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Perfectionist

          iTunes is reviled, and rightly so, only on Windows.

          I revile it just as much on OS X, after I had to fix its stupid catalog for my wife when she moved her music collection to a new external drive. Idiotic black-box design.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the fascination?

    How many biopics and biographies do we really need of a person who was a driven, antisocial asshole?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: What's the fascination?

      Well, Mein Kampf sold really well in it's time apparently. Then all the biopics dissecting his personality flaws sold well afterwards.

      The type who get on time every morning, are unfailingly polite to everyone and don't make waves or annoy anyone ever...

      a) Don't achieve enough to warrant a biopic.

      b} Even if they did, it wouldn't be an interesting read.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: What's the fascination?

        And to balance Mein Kampf, there have been many biographies of a man who advocated the gassing of Marsh Arabs, managed his own image, and made withering remarks about damn near everybody. Still, Winston Churchill was an interesting man.

        1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Here; hang on old sport!

          You are dissing the man who did more to aid Adolf Hitler than his highest ranking General, Admiral or Air Marshal (until the USAnians stepped in to close him down.) You'll be telling us that Blighty knew all about the WMD from all that antiterrrrrrst phone tapping, next.

          You looking to star in a remake of the Man in a Suitcase, or what?

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: What's the fascination?

        "Mein Kampf sold really well", Not an important comment but still, not really, it was given away, forced upon Germans. More or less the only ones who paid for the shit where those abroad who paid for the book or the translation. Hitler never got the "popular vote" in Germany to reach power, and then it was all too late for the Germans and for the rest of the world who did not get it in time.

        It's damned difficult to find any heroes among statesmen of that era. I would even blame the Great Brits more than the French. France after all suggested that the Brits would join them in Spain and nothing came out of that as the Brits said no.

        Democracy is the best we have but the odd thing is that the few at the top are always free to do anything they like, bastards. Not that it's anything new, looking at companies to day who died it's always the top few who screw it.

        What we should learn from the Nazi era of thirteen years is that it could happen in any country any day just look at the immense Stockholm syndrome in the Israeli government to day.

        And if someone feels offended bye this previous line it's intentional.

        1. Al Black

          Re: What's the fascination?

          Adolf Hitler did win power in a democratic election, and it is nonsense to say he "never got the "popular vote" in Germany: he won by a landslide and was hugely popular right through till the end of the War. people forget that Hitler was a Socialist with a very popular range of spending policies to rebuild the German economy. The National Socialist party was the German Workers' party and on paper, was very similar to the Australian Labor Party of today. The main difference was the ALP plans to borrow money to bribe voters and leave it for our grandchildren to pay back: Hitler planned to steal the money back by invading any country he owed money to!

          Having said that, comparing Steve Jobs or "the Israeli government to day" to Adolf Hitler is facile nonsense.

          1. Ian Joyner

            Re: What's the fascination?

            >>The National Socialist party was the German Workers' party and on paper, was very similar to the Australian Labor Party of today. The main difference was the ALP plans to borrow money to bribe voters and leave it for our grandchildren to pay back<<

            What complete and utter nonsense. Do you believe the inane Liberal scaremongering?

          2. Turtle

            Re: What's the fascination?

            "Adolf Hitler did win power in a democratic election,[...] he won by a landslide"

            This is false. Just completely. Check the election results and the vote totals.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Party#Federal_election_results

            -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            July 1932: 13,745,000 votes 37.3% After Hitler was candidate for presidency

            November 1932: 11,737,000 votes 33.1%

            March 1933: 17,277,180 votes 43.9% During Hitler's term as Chancellor of Germany

            -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            I, personally, see no "landslide".

            As for "winning power in a democratic election" that's a debatable statement: he became Chancellor as the result of a coalition of parties none of which had enough seats in the Reichstag to form a government by itself.

            (After the 1933 Reichstag fire President Paul von Hindenburg issued the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil liberties and then the Enabling Act was passed and there were no more elections. These two acts were the legislative key, so to speak: Hitler as Chancellor but not with complete power based on these two acts is almost certainly not the same as Hitler in power with the complete power which he did achieve.)

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: What's the fascination?

          All good points (although I didn't actually mean 'bestseller list' sold, I believe the author had a large quantity of his books purchased at a good profit awarded to himself.

          Yes, it could easily happen today/ tomorrow or any time soon. The politicians still attend the rememberance ceremonies every year, but they've forgotten how and why it happened. And in the UK we still have the same voting system that helped the Nazis into power from their non-majority status.

    2. Handy Plough

      Re: What's the fascination?

      Dunno, how many narcissistic comments from obvious judgemental sociopaths do we need?

  5. People's Poet

    In a homage to the late Steve Jobs I named my iPod Touch, "Steve Jobs was a cock!"

    Sync that Apple!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So he...

    * Drove around in an open top Mercedes

    * Shouted, yelled, and screamed a lot

    * Dabbled in architecture

    Sorry. Who are we talking about?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So he...

      <i>Sorry. Who are we talking about?</i>

      Jeremy Clarkson, I presume.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's long dead...

    and he ain't comin' back. Good riddance and one less bully to worry about.

    Though I admit I would have loved to fuck him. Physically he is my kind of man.

    1. Nightkiller

      Re: He's long dead...

      Just keep feeding the stereotypes....

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: He's long dead...

      OK, got my vote for Troll of the Week. Concise, inane, offensive, and posted anonymously. Hits all the buttons.

  8. Alan Denman

    The Corp image

    Whilst the family just get on with their own lives ignoring the often inaccurate hysterical media, Apple Corp have all their dollars to think of.

    Dollars matter far more than any truths. That is the truth.

  9. stu 4

    NeXT

    Deserves much more praise than it ever got.

    My professional IT life started with NeXT computers - using them for various RAD work at Bt Laboratories through 1994-2001 (going through openstep and finally webobjects).

    the OS, as well as the whole IDE and the core and enterprise objects frameworks were literally 10-15 years ahead of their time.

    In 1995 I was easily building complex UIs with drag and drop, real OO behind them, and backed by performant object relational frameworks.

    The hell that was/is J2EE has arguably not gotten to where EOF was in 1995, 20 years later.

    Even in 2000 when I was using WOF - it was in a another league from everything else - and yet it just never sold - it couldn't get a shoe in the door with the big boys - though a few large sites used it (bbc website, apple's own, etc).

    But back in 1995 it was like using something from the future.

    1. Grunchy

      Re: NeXT

      "NeXT Deserves much more praise than it ever got."

      Yes that's exactly what they said about Amiga, too.

      Still dead as a resting parrot!

    2. Miss Config
      Holmes

      Re: NeXT

      Tim Berners-Lee had one. Wrote a system/program with it : the worldwide web.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: NeXT

        Tim Berners-Lee had one.

        Shrug. I had one too - well, more precisely, used one a few times when I was working at IBM. It was OK, but I got real work done on the modded PC RT and pre-release RS/6000 I had at my desk. The NeXTcube was a little underpowered for the stuff I was doing.

        Wrote a system/program with it : the worldwide web.

        TBL wrote httpd and the WorldWideWeb client. He did not write "the worldwide web", any more than BBN "wrote the Internet".

        And, frankly, it would have been just as easy to write httpd on pretty much any UNIX workstation of the day, and WorldWideWeb was certainly feasible on anything with a graphics head. NeXTstep did make writing GUI apps easier, I'll grant you; I wrote a handful of quick & dirty Xlib apps back in the day, some "raw" and some using widget sets like Xtk, Xaw, etc, and it was more trouble than it should have been. (Better than writing for MS Windows of the era, though.) But the "www" line-mode browser was developed at the same time, and would have worked just as well to demonstrate the concept.

  10. Ian Joyner

    The key is the computing philosophies

    >>But Gates trounces Jobs in hardware by understanding that corporates want speed and reliability, not innovation, and the rising tide of Wintel capability will wash away the high-end workstation market<<

    The IBM philosophy was that people went to work and the computer was in control of the work and people. Microsoft and Gates inherited this view of computing. (It is the 'Business' in the middle of IBM.) Since business in the 80s and 90s accounted for most computing purchases, their model won. (In fact, IBM had been a major player in machines to help the Nazis control people in the 30s and 40s.)

    Contrary to its tag of 'Personal' (Apple used the phrase 'Personal Computer' before this), the IBM PC was still a business machine, not personal at all, except for the fact that it was used by one person.

    Apple and Jobs' philosophy is that people are in control of machines and use them for creative purposes. Of course Apple and Jobs did not invent this view - it can be traced back to Doug Englebart and others in the early 1960s, taken to Apple by Jef Raskin and others.

    Now the majority of computers are purchased by end users for personal and creative purposes. That is why Apple is on the rise and IBM and Microsoft are in decline.

    1. Turtle

      @ Ian Joyner

      "Now the majority of computers are purchased by end users for personal and creative purposes. That is why Apple is on the rise and IBM and Microsoft are in decline."

      Unless you have some citations I am just going to assume that this is bullshit. *I* am pretty certain that the vast majority of computers are purchased by business enterprises and governments. And considering that Windows-based computers outsell Macs by about a 9-to-1 margin, I think that you're overstating Microsoft's "decline" by maybe just a wee bit. And of course, one can debate how much of Apple's current success is built on computers proper, as opposed to the sale of iPhones and mp3 players. (And yes, I know that a smart phone is a computer but they are being purchased as glorified phones, not as computers.)

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: @ Ian Joyner

        *I* am pretty certain that the vast majority of computers are purchased by business enterprises and governments.

        The vast majority of computers, by CPU, are embedded systems. Many are still 8-bit. By now the wider-bus CPUs have probably surpassed the 8-bit cores simply due to economies of scale, but as recently as the early 2000s industry experts were claiming that around 90% of cores sold were still 8-bitters.

        The majority of computing by jobs performed belongs to big back-office business systems - financial transaction processing and the like. The majority of computing by compute cycles performed is probably in scientific supercomputing. The majority of I/O is probably in network routing.

        If we want to talk only about computers that ordinary folks use directly and explicitly, the majority are feature phones and smartphones.

        Desktop/laptop PCs are a small minority.

        (The OP's screed about "computers controlling people" versus "people controlling computers" is equally ridiculous, but who has time to take that mess apart?)

        1. Ian Joyner

          Re: @ Ian Joyner

          True many CPUs are embedded systems controlling all sorts of things. Yes a lot of computers are still purchased by business and government. IBM and Microsoft would have kept it that way, but Apple and Jobs let the genie out of the bottle. And yes it was done by changing the paradigm from computers controlling people to work for the company to people in control of people.

          >>(The OP's screed about "computers controlling people" versus "people controlling computers" is equally ridiculous, but who has time to take that mess apart?)<<

          It's not ridiculous at all. It is the basis of modern and widely available and used computing. See Doug Englebart's "Mother of all presentations", etc. You need to see the wood for the trees. You keep coming here and looking at individual trees. You won't have time to take anything apart because you won't be able to - it's not an intractable problem, it's impossible, so the only way you can do it is attempt to bury it in nonsense.

      2. Ian Joyner

        Re: @ Ian Joyner

        >>Unless you have some citations I am just going to assume that this is bullshit.<<

        So where are your citations to the contrary? It is an undeniable FACT that Apple has prospered, others have copied that success trying to get into that market, and been quite successful themselves. IBM has greatly waned, and Microsoft is not doing so well since their main business model is putting competition out of business rather than innovation.

        >> (And yes, I know that a smart phone is a computer but they are being purchased as glorified phones, not as computers.)<<

        No mobiles (pads and phones) are very much computers. As John Gage at Sun pointed out "the network is the computer" and all of these mobiles are part of it.

  11. Ian Joyner

    Reg needs to lift its game on Apple reporting

    >>Katie Cotton, Head of communications at Apple for 18 years retired in 2014. She decided who got to talk to Steve. She probably made sure The Reg stopped getting invited to events too.<<

    I'm not surprised. The Reg needs to report on Apple in a better, more mature fashion, instead of being a 'fanboy' basher.

  12. dz-015

    I strongly dislike Microsoft software, am still extremely disappointed by the way that Microsoft's poor technology and innovation-stifling set the computing industry back by 20 years, and am far from convinced that pouring the resulting ill-gained profits into a foundation of questionable motives and results somehow justifies all this; but if it had been Gates who died of cancer rather than Jobs, the last thing I'd do would be to jump into a comments page like this to slag him off. Reading through some of the comments and votes on this page, I can't help feeling utterly disgusted by some of the readers on this site.

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Quite right

      I am still wondering what Job's did to get the reputation. I don't want to bother reading the book if a local library ever gets a copy but I wouldn't mind reading some facts. (Not that I am nosey or anything, I just want to know.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Reading through some of the comments and votes on this page, I can't help feeling utterly disgusted by some of the readers on this site."

      Probably because in fact Jobs was an asshole (self admitted actually, the article suggests). He just stepped on too many toes, and that's the response you get for doing that. If one really must compare it with a late ex leader or dictator, I'd say the comparison with the response people had to Thatcher's death is more appropriate.

      She supposedly lifted Britain out of depression, but screwed a lot of people in the process. So a good part of the population hates her and will continue to do so.

      Although, whatever you can say of her, she kicked the Argentinians, lead by a real asshole murderous dictator, out of the Falklands. \o/ But I digress...

      1. Ian Joyner

        Thank goodness Jobs was the way he was. He needed real strength of character to change the computing industry the way he did. So many computing engineers just stick to the same old line. They do this because computing is complex and they hide behind it. There is a power in it. Jobs broke that down. He had to stand up against so many who have fixed ideas in computing, like Bob Barton had done in an earlier generation (and he also was known for being difficult).

        Barton designed a completely different system rather than computer architecture. This came out of an innovative period where designers knew what the elements were and could arrange them how they liked. But we seem to have become stuck on the von Neumann architecture, which was ok for the time of costly hardware, but now hardware is much cheaper, we should be able to be more innovative in how processors are arranged instead of being wedded to the same old thing.

        Jobs also changed marketing. Too often marketers, grabbing for power, would try to be in control of what got put into products under the pretence that it was they who spoke to the customer and knew what was needed. Jobs put marketing in its right place as well.

        Sure this might have upset a lot of people, but thank goodness for the strength of character of Jobs.

  13. Tony Haines

    //But Gates trounces Jobs in hardware by understanding that corporates want speed and reliability//

    ...seriously?

    1. Ian Joyner

      >>//But Gates trounces Jobs in hardware by understanding that corporates want speed and reliability//

      ...seriously?<<

      See my other comment further down, that it is true that is what corporates want. They want uninspiring machines that control workers. Jobs and Apple changed that and now more users who want computers to work for them are buying computers thanks to Apple.

      My other post is longer on that subject and I don't want to repeat it.

  14. Grunchy

    Holy cow, people still care about Steve Jobs?

    Hey I finally got 'gifted' one of those obsolete iPods, now that nobody wants them any more.

    It didn't work right so I took it to one of those Apple stores, my first time ever inside of one. The place was a zoo!

    I finally got to speak with the woman who handles these things. She suggested that they could recycle it for me for free.

    So much for that!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019