Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
60 Minutes devoted 40 minutes to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs tonight.The segments included taped excerpts of Isaacson’s 40 interviews with Steve over the past several years, the last of which came just before he died.
Isaacson’s book goes on sale on Monday.
Here are some new details:
- The first device Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made together, before they founded Apple, was a gadget called a “blue-box” that Wozniak developed to hack into phone systems. As soon as Jobs saw the gadget, he thought they could sell it. And they did — they sold about a hundred of them. That device, Steve Jobs said, gave them the idea of starting a company.
- After dropping out of college, Steve worked briefly at Atari. They gave him the night shift because he had horrible body odor. Steve apparently thought his vegan diet made it so he didn’t need to shower or use deodorant.
- Steve didn’t know how to write code or program computers. Steve Wozniak did all that.
- Shortly after the Apple 2 came out, Steve and Steve were worth $50 million apiece on paper. Steve Jobs said he “went from not worrying about money because I was poor, to not worrying about money because I had a lot of money.”
- As soon as Apple became worth something, there was a scramble among early employees to get stock options. Steve Jobs was a real hard-arse about who got them and who didn’t. He shafted some friends who had begun working for the company when it was still a project in his family’s garage.
- When Steve’s first child, Lisa, was born out of wedlock, Steve refused to take responsibility for her. He also refused to pay child support.
- It was in the early Apple days that Steve’s “reality distortion field” came into being. Isaacson says Steve could drive himself by magical thinking. Steve would make crazy demands of employees, some of which they would end up meeting. Steve believed he was special, chosen, that normal rules didn’t apply. Throughout his life, he continued to display “everyday acts of rebellion,” actions that said “I don’t succumb to authority.”
- After he was ousted from Apple, Steve sold all his stock and built Next Computer, which failed. He also bought a little company called Pixar from George Lucas for $5 million. It was Pixar that made him a billionaire.
- When Steve rejoined Apple, it was 90 days from bankruptcy. He quickly fired 3,000 people and launched the “Think Different” campaign. Steve edited the ad copy himself. He put in the phrase, “they changed the world.” He wrote it not as ad copy, Isaacson says. He wrote it as a manifesto.
- “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
- Steve re-imagined and revolutionised 7 industries, including Animation, Personal Computing, Music, Media, Phones, and Retailing.
- Steve’s house in Palo Alto is a normal house on a normal street, a normal family home. He did not want to live “that nutso lavish lifestyle.” He had no live-in help, no entourage.
- Steve said that after Apple went public, he saw how money changed people. He said that lots of people who got rich thought they had to start being rich. They bought houses, Rolls Royces. Their wives started having plastic surgery. Steve said “I’m not going to let this money ruin my life.”
- Steve’s daughter Lisa, who he had ignored for a decade, moved in with his family as a teenager.
- Steve’s pancreatic cancer was discovered accidentally, in a scan for kidney stones. He refused an operation in favour of alternative therapies. Nine months after the diagnosis, by the time he went forward with the operation, the cancer had spread.
- Over the next few years, Steve continued to receive secret cancer treatments even though he told people he was cured.
- Steve’s public explanation for his weight loss, a “hormone imbalance,” had a tiny kernel of truth to it, but only a kernel.
- In March 2009, when Steve got a liver transplant in Memphis, the doctors saw that the cancer had spread.
- Getting sick focused Steve. He focused on doing only what he wanted to do in the time he had left. He no longer traveled the world. He focused on his family, the things he wanted to do at home. He wanted to make the iPad. He wanted to make an awesome television. “You’re born alone, and you’re going to die alone,” he said. “What exactly is it you have to lose?”
- In one of their interviews, in Steve’s garden in Palo Alto, Isaacson asked Steve whether he believed in God. Isaacson paraphrases Steve as saying, “Sometimes I believe in God, sometimes I don’t. But ever since I got cancer, I find myself believing a bit more.” Steve went on to explain that this increased faith was in part a hope that when he died, it wouldn’t all just end, that there would be some sort of after-life. “But sometimes I think it’s like an on-off switch,” he continued. “It just turns off and you’re done.” And that’s why he didn’t put “off” switches on Apple devices.
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