Saturday, November 26, 2011

Steve Jobs - My thoughts as I read

Books are piling up in my closet. I have many pending to be read. I finished with all those Nicolas Sparks mushy far-from-reality romances. I did lap up on treasure hunting thrillers.

I was reading short stories by Forsyth and abandoned it mid way to read Steve Jobs. The world mourned the death of Steve Jobs just few days ago. He was a saint to many people. I was not particularly inclined to him and my only association with Apple has been owning an iPod and a MAC on which I am typing now :). I chose an Android to an iPhone and have restricted from owning an iPad. The first time I heard about Jobs was sometime in 2005 just after his Stanford commencement speech. Few friends in college thought that I was too up-to-date and too technical to know who Steve Jobs was and when I asked who he was; I recall getting that dirty look. I dont know if I should be mortified to confess that I still have not viewed his commencement speech :-/ Few things make you unperturbed and ignorant for not any particular reason.

The second time I heard about Jobs was the very next year. I was in the Bay area on work; one Saturday decided to visit Hewlett and Packard's garage at their Palo Alto home. I stopped on one street and an American couple were unloading their groceries from their car. I approached them and asked for HP's garage. They gave me directions and added Steve Jobs apartment was 3 blocks away. I just nodded and left. I still didnt know why Steve Jobs was so important.

So now I am reading his biography; I am half way through; at the back of my mind I fail to fathom why he was treated like a saint after his death. Steve more than one way revolutionized the personal computer industry and made our lives so simpler.

When they sell their first PC Apple I; he realizes its presentation was as important as feature. He transforms an engineer's hobby to a business and thus his friend (Woz) had a conflict with his belief and Job's ambition.
He had a way to get people do so that he can get what he wanted. A time when he takes Woz's help to design a game in an optimal way; he intentionally hides the bonus he was being offered by Atari and just shares his base earnings.

Or the time when he flatly denies he fathered Lisa and got around with a statistics that any one among the 28% of the male population in USA could be her father; later agreeing for providing for her just before Apple went public!! His college friend Kottke at Reed who stood by Jobs was not provided any IPOs. So very untrustworthy, non ethical and a person who could steal credits as he famously quoted "Good artists copy, great artists steal" when he hijacked Xerox's PARC GUI design. Was it his heist or Xerox's stupidity?

What set him apart was his ingenuity to bring art and technology together. Technology should be aesthetic. How he could go at any lengths to dominate. He cried when Scott assigned him a employee #2 so that it keeps his ego under check and Jobs requested for #1. #1 went to Woz; Jobs wouldnt have any of it and finally asked for #0 but BoA wanted a positive integer for a payroll account; so he had to stick with #2 :)

Throughout; he tactically talked people into his job; used them and disposed them off. "All you did until now was shit, so why dont you work for me?" was what he said to a Xerox engineer. Thinking otherwise; if he had not got his way; we might not have products as its now. Like GUI, the mouse, the book sized laptops; which all others like Microsoft copied.

He did not ask to read the draft and wanted people to know the real him. Is this why he is regarded as great? I could see him more as a shrewd man who could stare anyone down to get things done his way. Maybe there is more to him.

I will be able to understand more once I am done with reading the book. 


  1. Laughing out loud @ Nicolas Sparks mushy far-from-reality romances!! Such apt observation! :D
    You have piqued my curiosity... looking forward to your rest of the views on his biography as I order my copy from Flipkart!

  2. your page will soon become AD place I guess. :)

    anyway I read that you read, I mean you are busy, still manage to read.... Congrats!

  3. That was such a sincere note from you Insi.I very much appreciate.Love to read more as you finish.

  4. Perhaps, we expect what we want from a Biography don't we?
    Perhaps we try to find the perfect being , and get disappointed often?

    Your thoughts on Job's will find me agreeing. He was an artist of sort who got what he wanted and used men the way he wanted.
    If there is something more only he could tell.

  5. To me, Steve is the guy who created Apple, the standard of excellence in computers. Nothing else matters. Like any other human being, he may have had his faults; so does Bill Gates. The drive for excellence is what sets apart the great from the mundane.

  6. I guess hard work pays off .. and indeed presentation is the biggest thing :)


  7. In a country where free enterprise rules supreme, and ethics sometimes goes fuzzy in the search for more and more profits, one is not surprised at the professional behaviour of Jobs.

    What amazes me is how well the biography was timed for release. Around the end. Outside the US , his machines were more wellknown than him. It was a surprise to then suddenly see this big outpouring on social networking sites, and the press , about the person.

    Makes you a bit skeptical.

  8. Insignia,
    Love your opposite thinking, especially when others are heaping rave reviews. Read somewhere being mentioned, 'why join the navy when you can be a pirate!'.

  9. Now i get your fb status 'perception will change forever'.Btw my brother-in-law gifted this book to his pregnant wife and insists that she reads it soon - i wonder why !!

  10. I guess he was more admired for his innovative ways. In my opinion, he was an excellent marketer who came up in life and used experience instead of fancy degrees. His knowledge was commendable. As a person, there are many deplorable streaks in his character some of which you pointed out. I can never understand why genius ought to be an excuse for treating people shoddily or being moody. Such people no matter how great immediately fall in my eyes. For his business acumen, hats off otherwise he was a flawed human being. I haven't yet had the urge to read his biography this far, but I did enjoy his Stanford address. That was inspiring!

  11. I came to know of him more thru' you. shall wait for more.:)

  12. what a coincidence... I was reading about steve job's life few hours ago...

  13. The man is something. No doubts about that. And he is but a man. A human being. With all frailties and such else. I simply admire his desire to tell the world his true side. His ugly side included. Those that do this are rare.

  14. Harish,



    I am still reading :) Quite a big book. Sure I will share my views :)


    I know not why you say that.
    Yes, I want to read even though I am busy


    Thank you, sure Melange :)


    Anil, honestly I didnt have any expectation.
    I was just curious to know why he is called a legend.

    :) More views later on my post


    Who says Bill Gates is God? Steve had his own way; contradicting his own views. He could create a reality distortion and people were wary of it.

    Gates had his head firmly on his shoulders :) More later.


    Well, Steve did not do any hard work; he made others slog and in the end all they got from him was "This looks like a piece of shit!" :)


    I totally agree with you. I am sure you were in USA in the 80s. Yeah; why are people trying to make a God out of him all of a sudden? He did well for himself and Apple, investors profited; but thats that! isnt it?

    Wan F,

    Oh yeah Wan. The Machintosh team was called Pirates and they even had a flag hoisted :)


    Haha; yes Kavita. I did not have any perception about Jobs. I wanted few others in my friend list to read that book :)

    About your bro-in-law asking his pregnant wife to read; hmmm no clue. There is nothing interesting of that sort in the book :)


    He was nasty, rude, selfish and self centered. He did not treat anybody in a nice way. As you said; being a genius does not mean you treat others shoddily.


    Sure Madam :)


    You are reading his biography I hope.


    I pointed that in my post. To show his side without filtering is a rare thing. You can see his arrogance even in this :)


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!