News Column

Steve Jobs Biography Pulls Back Web of Privacy

Oct. 21, 2011

Rachel Metz, The Associated Press

Steve Jobs had a disdain for people who put profit first. In an upcoming authorized biography of the late Apple CEO, he calls the crop of executives brought in to run Apple after his ouster in 1985 "corrupt people" with "corrupt values" who cared only about making money.

Jobs was often bullied in school, according to Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, which will be published Monday by Simon & Schuster. The Associated Press purchased a copy Thursday. Advance sales of the biography have topped best-seller lists since Jobs died at age 56 on Oct. 5 after a long battle with cancer.

As a teenager, Jobs exhibited some odd behaviors -- he began to try various diets, eating just fruits and vegetables for a time, and perfected staring at others without blinking. Later, on the naming of Apple, Jobs told Isaacson he was "on one of my fruitarian diets." He'd just come back from an apple farm, and he thought the name sounded "fun, spirited and not intimidating."

Much of the book adds detail to what's already known, or at least speculated, about Jobs. While Isaacson isn't the first to tell Jobs' story, he had unprecedented access to the man who fiercely guarded his own, and his company's, privacy. Isaacson interviewed Jobs more than 40 times, including a few weeks before his death.

Jobs reveals in the book that he didn't want to go to college, and the only school he applied to was costly private college Reed in Portland, Ore. Once accepted, his parents tried to talk him out of attending, but he told them he wouldn't go to college at all if they didn't let him go there.

Jobs dropped out of the school after less than a year and never went back.

His pre-Apple job as a technician at Atari paid $5 per hour. He saw a classified ad, went to visit the company and informed them he wouldn't leave unless they hired him.

Jobs, who spent years studying Zen Buddhism, never went back to church after he saw a photo of starving children on the cover of Life and asked his Sunday school pastor if God knew what would happen to them. He was 13 at the time.

Jobs' eye for simple, clean design was evident early on. The case of the Apple II computer had originally included a Plexiglas cover, metal straps and a roll-top door. Jobs, though, wanted something elegant and decided he wanted a case made of molded plastic.

He called Jonathan Ive, Apple's design chief, his "spiritual partner" at Apple. He told Isaacson that Ive had "more operation power" at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself -- that there's no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do. That, says Jobs, is "the way I set it up."

Jobs was never a typical CEO. Apple's first CEO, Mike Scott, was hired mainly to manage Jobs, then 22. One of his first projects: getting Jobs to bathe more often. It didn't really work.

In the early 1990s, after Jobs was ousted from Apple, he watched the company's gradual decline from afar. He was angered by the new crop of people brought in the run Apple, and he called them "corrupt."

He told Issacson they cared only about making money "for themselves mainly, and also for Apple -- rather than making great products."


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Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2011