Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a review

Steve Jobs


That was my first reaction when I finally finished all 656 pages of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2011, ISBN 978-1451648539), a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law. Despite the book’s length, it was a difficult one to put down.

I followed Steve Jobs long before I owned an Apple product. I was in college learning to use UNIX when Steve Jobs and NeXT released the first NeXT cube. With it’s distinct appearance and Mach microkernel, the NeXT workstation turned UNIX from a geeky operating system to a cool one. Even its trade publication, NeXTWORLD, was a hip coffee table magazine. I still have my collection of NeXTWORLD magazines. The NeXTSTEP operating system was groundbreaking, and it’s rapid development environment gained fans in unlikely places like Wall Street. Tim Berners-Lee used it to create the World Wide Web. (Did anyone else notice his appearance, along with a NeXT black cube, in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic games?)

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, he brought NeXTSTEP and his eye for product design with him. In 1998, the original Bondi Blue iMac was lampooned for its lack of legacy ports and floppy disk drives. But this reaction became part of a familiar pattern— Apple releases a product, its competitors immediately trash the product, then mimic the product within 6-12 months. With varying degrees of success, as Samsung has recently learned.

While Steve Jobs was a fascinating man, he certainly wasn’t a perfect one. With his obsessive work habits and penchant for tearing down his employees, he wasn’t the ideal manager or father.

On the one-year anniversary of his death, it’s worth reflecting that all of us desire to live more than 56 years. None of us know how much time we really have to make a dent in the universe. But whether you have ever owned an Apple product or watched a Pixar film, your life has been profoundly affected by the legacy of Steve Jobs.

Which is why you should read this important book.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. – Apple Inc.

We miss you, Steve.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a gift, but not from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Did you read Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson? What did you think?

Dallas Marks

Dallas Marks

I am an analytics and cloud architect, author, and trainer. An AWS certified blogger, SAP Mentor Alumni and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting.

3 thoughts on “Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a review

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful reflection today, Dallas.
    I used to be one that scorned Apple. As a system engineer, I always scoffed at the fact that I could not build my own Apple system, always of the opinion that I could do it better myself. I still build my own Windows computers.
    It took me several years, but once I really grasped the beauty of what Steve was doing by applying good design to both hardware and software that I really came to appreciate the brand. So, fanboi I’m not, late adopter maybe? I do certainly appreciate Steve’s particular dent in the universe.
    I guess my wish this year is that Steve made a big enough impact on Apple, that they are changed forever, and now have a culture of innovation and will keep reinventing the role of technology in our lives for many years to come.

  2. It’s a great book, even if you already knew all the stories like I did. I ‘read’ the audio book in my car for 3 weeks (it’s 24 hours long) and time flew by!

Comments are closed.