He changed the world but he also had extremely smelly feet. He was simultaneously a genius, and a tyrant. His temper was legendary, but his foresight could be exceptional. And if he could change one thing, it would be to have been as successful at fatherhood as he was at the technology business.
The real Steve Jobs, uncensored and finally on-the-record, is revealed today, less than three weeks after his death. The hotly-anticipated, authorised biography will detail the life, times and legacy of the man who co-founded Apple and went on to be regarded as the greatest entrepreneur of his generation.
Researched during his final battle with cancer, the book – titled simply Steve Jobs – offers a mixture of high and lowbrow revelations about his public and private journey. Although the biographer Walter Isaacson was granted roughly 40 interviews with his subject, early indications suggest that he resisted temptation to repay that loyalty by producing a sterile hagiography.
Instead, readers who (on pre-orders alone) are already set to make Isaacson’s hardback book this year’s best-selling title, will enjoy a wide-ranging selection of fresh information about what made the famously reclusive Steve Jobs tick.
For technology watchers, there is at least one scoop: Apple’s product developers are working on their first-ever television set. The “integrated” device, Jobs claimed, will revolutionise the TV market the way the iPod changed music. “It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices,” he said. “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
Fans were also offered intriguing titbits about the Apple co-founder’s private life. Born in 1955, and later adopted, he struggled with personal hygiene. During his first job, at Atari, co-workers called him “a goddamn hippie with BO” and forced him to work night shifts.
Later, he grew long hair, experimented with LSD and decided that eating a fruitarian diet would allow him to get away with bathing just once a week.
Jobs spent his final days contemplating God. “Maybe it’s because I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear,” he said. “But sometimes I think it’s just like an on-off switch. Click and you’re gone. And that’s why I don’t like putting on-off switches on Apple devices.”
Core issues: Revelations
* For years, Jobs, who was adopted, patronised a restaurant near San José – not realising it was owned by his biological father. They eventually met. “I had been to that restaurant a few times, and I remember meeting the owner. He was Syrian. Balding. We shook hands.” But they never formed a close relationship. “I was a wealthy man by then, and I didn’t trust him not to blackmail me or go to the press.”
* The first time Bill Gates came to visit, Jobs kept him waiting for half an hour. Their relationship soured. “This machine is crap,” said the Microsoft founder about Job’s latest device.
* In 1982, Jobs began dating Joan Baez. One day, he told the folk singer about a Ralph Lauren dress which would be “perfect” for her. “I said to myself, far out, terrific, I’m with one of the world’s richest men and he wants me to have this beautiful dress,” Baez recalled. Jobs drove to the shop and showed her the frock. “You ought to buy it,” he said. Baez replied that she couldn’t afford it, and they left.
Guy Adams, The Independent