Book Summary: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Are you looking for a book summary of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson? You have come to the right place.

I jotted down a few key insights from Walter Isaacson’s book after reading it.

You do not have to read the entire book if you don’t have time. This book summary provides an overview of everything you can learn from it.

Let’s get started without further ado.

In this Steve Jobs: Find out how Apple’s Steve Jobs became a worldwide technology icon book summary, I’m going to cover the following topics:

What is the book Steve Jobs About?

Steve Jobs, the eccentric founder of Apple and an innovative entrepreneur, chronicles his audacious and adventurous life in this book. He describes the man’s successful ventures as well as the battles he fought along the way in his memoir, Steve Jobs, which details Jobs’s earliest experiences with spirituality and LSD, as well as his pinnacle as a worldwide tech icon.

One of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes is:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Who is the Author of the book Steve Jobs?

Walter Isaacson is a writer and biographer from the United States. In addition to serving as editor of TIME magazine, he was the CEO and chairman of the CNN news network. The author of best-selling biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson is also the author of American Sketches (2003).

Who is the book Steve Jobs For?

It is not for everyone to read the book Steve Jobs. If you are one of the following types of people, it may be right for you:

  • Anyone interested in entrepreneur Steve Jobs’ tumultuous career path
  • Anyone interested in Apple’s massive success
  • Anyone who is inspired by the designers of our everyday technology gadget

Steve Jobs Book Summary


Our contemporary, computer-mediated world could not exist without Steve Jobs.

In addition to being a perfectionist, Jobs was also a visionary who sought to change the world through technology.

As you learn in this best-selling biography, Jobs’s perfectionism and intensity propelled him to achieve great things, but they also caused friction and conflict. While Jobs might claim that he was simply trying to push people to do their best, his behavior was often viewed as brattish – even though his behavior was sometimes seen as brattish by employees and collaborators alike.

One of the most influential tech icons of our time details his fascinating life in the following chapters, as well as the story of a teenage prank that eventually resulted in one of the world’s most valuable technology companies.

Lesson 1: Jobs was instilled with a love of engineering and design by his handyman father and prankster best friend

Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble gave birth to a boy on February 24, 1955.

Jandali and Schieble would not raise their child. Schieble, whose strict Catholic family would disown her if she had a child with a Muslim man, gave the child up for adoption because she came from such a strict family.

Paul and Clara Jobs, who live in Silicon Valley, adopted the child and named him Steven.

Paul tried to pass on his love of mechanics to Steve at an early age, and Steve remembers being impressed by Paul’s focus on quality. Steve would assist Paul in building a cabinet, for example, if the family needed one.

A smart yet inexpensive Eichler house – an “everyman’s” modern home with floor-to-ceiling glass and an open layout – also sparked Steve’s obsession with clean, elegant design.

In 1971, combining both interests, they developed their first product: the “Blue Box.” With the device, users could make long-distance 

Jobs learned a lot about computers from Wozniak, who was five years older and a talented computer technician.

Jobs and Wozniak were young boys who enjoyed playing pranks. Also, they were fascinated by electronics and enjoyed seeing what they could create.

The pair combined both interests in 1971 and developed their first product: the “Blue Box,” which enabled users to make free long-distance calls.

Jobs took $40 worth of parts and sold the device for $150 using Wozniak’s design.

With Wozniak’s engineering skills and Jobs’s vision, they sold almost 100 boxes, giving them a taste of what they could do.

Lesson 2: Jobs was shaped by spirituality, LSD, and the arts to form his aesthetic sense and extreme focus

Geek and hippie cultures began overlapping in the late 1960s.

So it was perhaps inevitable that he would immerse himself in the counterculture and start experimenting with LSD in addition to his passion for math, science, and electronics.

During his first year at Reed College, Jobs became very serious about meditating and experimenting with LSD with friends.

By showing him there is “another side to the coin,” Jobs felt that his experiences with drugs reaffirmed his sense of what was important in life. For Jobs, this meant realizing it was more important to create great things than to do anything else.

Jobs even travelled to India, where he spent seven months exploring Eastern spirituality. Zen Buddhism influenced his minimalist aesthetic approach and introduced him to intuition as an important aspect of his personality.

He developed a specific focus as a result of his interest in LSD and spirituality, which he called “Jobs’ distortion field”: if he decided something should happen, he would simply make it happen by bending reality to the will of his mind.

Jobs’s passion for the arts also played a role in shaping his minimalist aesthetic. Apple’s products should be simple and clean, Jobs insisted over and over again.

During his college years, he formed this ideal. Jobs was permitted to continue taking classes after he dropped out of college, which he did solely for his own enrichment. Calligraphy was one of those classes, which he later used to create the Apple Mac’s graphical user interface.

Lesson 3: They got their name from an apple farm; hard work, counterculture vision, and a counterculture vision made them a company

It seems an odd combination: a spiritually-minded LSD enthusiast and the staid computer industry. However, in the early 1970s, computers were beginning to be seen as a symbol of individual expression.

In addition to being immersed in drugs and Zen, Jobs dreamed of starting his own business. Around the same time, Steve Wozniak created the modern personal computer with an idea he came up with.

Wozniak joined the Homebrew Computer Club in the early days of the Silicon Valley technology revolution, where computer “nerds” exchanged ideas and an overarching philosophy said counterculture and technology were a perfect match.

Wozniak came up with the idea here. There were several, separate hardware components required for computers to work at the time, making them difficult to manage and use. Wozniak envisioned a device with a keyboard, screen and computer integrated into one unit.

It was Wozniak’s initial plan to give his design away for free, since this was the Homebrew ethic. Wozniak’s invention, Jobs said, should be profitable for them.

Apple Computer was founded by Wozniak and Jobs in 1976 with just $1,300 in start-up capital.

After visiting an apple farm, Jobs came up with the name “Apple” because it was fun, simple, and familiar.

A month was spent building 100 computers by hand by Wozniak and Jobs. All of the items were sold to a local computer dealer, while the rest were sold to friends and other customers.

The Apple I, Apple’s first computer, reached profitability after only 30 days.

Lesson 4: Jobs was an uncompromising perfectionist who was driven by a controlling and temperamental personality

Jobs was an erratic, even quirky individual according to those who knew him. He would throw temper tantrums and verbally attack people if they didn’t meet his high standards.

What made Jobs so controlling and temperamental?

A perfectionist by nature, he was unforgiving. Jobs wanted an Apple II that was fully integrated and had a beautifully designed interface. Although his drive led to the success of the Apple II when it was released in 1977, it also sapped the company’s energy and will.

Jobs would call poor work “shit,” and would get furious if he noticed even the smallest error.

Jobs only became more erratic as Apple grew as a company. In the end, Scott was appointed as Apple’s president, whose primary responsibility was to keep a tighter rein on Jobs.

There were some thornier issues that Scott had to deal with that other employees didn’t have the energy to handle. Jobs found it hard to relinquish any control over Apple, resulting in disagreements and even tears.

Scott’s attempt to limit his perfectionism was particularly frustrating to Job. Scott, on the other hand, did not want Jobs’ perfectionism to overpower pragmatism.

While Jobs spent days deciding whether the corners of the Apple II case should be rounded or not, Scott stepped in when he felt none of the 2,000 shades of beige would be good enough. Scott focused on getting the case manufactured and sold.

Lesson 5: Steve Jobs put the Macintosh on a pedestal, but his vitriol pushed him down

Six million Apple II computers were sold, and the Apple II is considered the spark that sparked the personal computer industry.

Apple II was Wozniak’s creation, not Jobs’, so it wasn’t a complete success.

Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs, set out to create a machine that would “make a dent in the universe.” Motivated by this ambition, Jobs started developing the Macintosh, the successor to the Apple II.

Apple’s Macintosh, however, was not entirely Jobs’s work, as Jef Raskin, an expert in human-computer interfaces, originally developed it. In response, Jobs developed a machine with a powerful microprocessor that could handle sophisticated graphics, and which could be controlled largely with a mouse.

Ridley Scott directed the TV commercial – now known as the “1984” ad – that made the Macintosh a sensational success. As a result of the Macintosh launch’s popularity, Jobs as well as the product suffered a sort of publicity chain reaction.

With his craftiness, Jobs was able to land high-profile interviews with several prominent magazines by tricking journalists into thinking they were receiving an “exclusive.”

As a result, Jobs became wealthy and famous with the Macintosh. Having achieved celebrity status, he was able to book Ella Fitzgerald to perform at his extravagant 30th birthday party.

Apple employees continued to be oppressed by his perfectionism. When he thought people didn’t care about perfection, he constantly called them “assholes.”.

Because of Jobs’ brattish behavior, the company had a showdown with him. The Apple board of directors decided to let him go in 1985.

Lesson 6: Although Jobs failed with NeXT, he had success with Pixar, a company leading the way in animated films

Jobs realized he could now indulge both his good and bad sides after being fired from Apple – by indulging both sides of himself.

First, he created a computer called NeXT geared toward the educational market.

Jobs indulged his love for design while working on the NeXT project. He spent $100,000 on the logo, and insisted on a cube-shaped computer case for NeXT.

Jobs’ perfectionism, however, made the computer hard to manufacture and engineer.

As a result of Jobs’ uncompromising vision, NeXT was doomed. In the end, the project ran out of money, the machine was released several years late, and it was way too expensive for the end user. In the larger computing industry, NeXT barely made a ripple because of its high price and small software library.

Jobs purchased a majority stake in Pixar during the same period. The chairman of Apple, Jobs, loved being a part of a venture that combined technology and art perfectly.

Jobs lost money on both Pixar and NeXT by 1988.

Tin Toy, a film that showcased Pixar’s unique vision for computer animation, was released after years of financial struggle. In 1988, Tin Toy won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Jobs saw Pixar, a company that made cutting-edge, potentially lucrative animated films, as the company he should focus on instead of software and hardware products, which were losing money.

Toy Story, Pixar’s first feature film, was produced by Disney in partnership with Pixar. Toy Story was the top-grossing movie of 1996.

Lesson 7: Steve Jobs made amends in his personal life away from Apple, reconnecting with his biological family

During the 12 years Jobs spent away from Apple, he also developed as a person.

Jobs became curious about his roots in 1986, after his adoptive mother died, and searched for his biological mother.

Upon finding Joanne Schieble, he found her to be emotional and apologetic for having given Jobs up for adoption.

A sister, Mona Simpson, was also a surprise to Jobs. Simpson and he were both artistic and strong-willed, and they eventually became friends.

Jobs met Laurene Powell at the same time. With the blessing of Jobs’s old Zen master, the couple married in 1991. The couple’s first child, Reed Paul Jobs, was born in 1991. In addition to Erin and Eve, the couple had two more children.

Having been estranged from Lisa Brennan, Jobs also tried to spend more time with her with Powell’s encouragement.

Lisa eventually moved in with Jobs and Powell and lived with them until she went to college at Harvard.

Lisa grew up to be as temperamental as Jobs, and since neither was good at apologizing for their actions, they could go months without speaking to each other.

In a broad sense, Jobs’ behavior in his private life mirrored his behavior at work. It was either extreme passion or extreme cold, which matched his personality.

Lesson 8: Amidst Apple’s declining fortunes, Jobs returned as its CEO

Apple began to fail as a company following the dismissal of Jobs.

Gil Amelio became CEO in 1996 in order to stop this decline. Meleio realized Apple needed to partner with a company that had new ideas to get back on track.

Thus, Amelio acquired NeXT’s software in 1997, effectively appointing Jobs as Apple’s advisor.

Jobs grabbed all the control he could once he was at Apple again. By hiring his favorite NeXT employees for Apple’s top positions, he quietly built his power base.

Amelio was not going to be Apple’s savior during this period, Apple’s board realized. But Jobs might be able to restore the company’s fortunes.

The board of directors offered Jobs the position of CEO at Apple. However, he declined. In its place, he insisted on staying on as an advisor, and helped lead the search for a new CEO.

Jobs used his position as advisor to gain influence within Apple. Even the board resigned – the very same board that recommended he take over the CEO role – as he felt they were hindering his progress in transforming the company.

Jobs also managed to establish a partnership with Microsoft, resulting in the development of Microsoft Office for the Mac, which ended a decade of legal battles and skyrocketed Apple’s stock price.

As CEO, Jobs refocused the company on making fewer products after much hesitation.

One billion four hundred million dollars was lost by Apple in 1997. The company made a profit of $309 million in 1998, Jobs’s first full year as CEO. The company had been saved by Jobs.

Lesson 9: B The iMac and the first Apple Store were astronomically successful due to old ideas and visionary design

Jony Ive became Apple’s second-most powerful designer when Jobs discovered his visionary talent. As a result, the two companies began a partnership that would become the most important industrial design collaboration in its era.

Jobs and Ive first collaborated on the iMac, a desktop computer that sells for around $1,200 and is geared towards everyday consumers.

Ive and Jobs challenged the conventional notion of what computers should look like with the iMac. The pair chose a blue, translucent case to reflect their desire to make the computer perfect from the inside out. This design also gave it a playful appearance.

Apple’s iMac was the fastest-selling computer in its history when it was introduced in May 1998.

Jobs worried, however, that Apple’s unique products would be diluted by generic products available in technology megastores. The Apple Store was created so that the company could control the entire retail process.

Among the first tasks was to build a prototype store, furnish it to perfection and obsess over every detail of the general aesthetic and service experience. From the moment customers enter the store to the moment they check out, there is a sense of minimalism.

Apple opened its first store in May 2001. Jobs’ careful design had taken retailing and brand recognition to a whole new level.

Lesson 10: Jobs wanted total control of the digital experience, so he created the iPod, iPhone, and iPad

Jobs came up with a new, grand strategy after a successful launch of the Apple Store and the iMac. His vision was to establish a digital lifestyle centered around a personal computer.

Digital hubs are what he called this strategy.

From music players to video cameras, the personal computer was envisioned as a kind of control center.

In order to realize Jobs’ vision, he decided that the next Apple product would be a portable music player.

Apple released the iPod in 2001, a streamlined device that featured a large screen and new hard drive technology along with the now-famous click wheel.

While critics doubted people would spend $399 on a music player, iPod sales made Apple half of its revenue by 2007.

Next, Apple had to design a cell phone.

The first iPhone was released by Apple in 2007. iPhone was made possible by two technologies: the touch screen that could process multiple inputs simultaneously, and the Gorilla Glass cover.

Once again, critics argued that no one would be willing to pay $500 for a cell phone – but Jobs proved them wrong again. Over half of the profits generated by the global cell phone market were generated by sales of iPhones by the end of 2010.

Jobs’s strategy culminated with the introduction of the iPad, a tablet computer.

The iPad was officially launched by Apple in January 2010. Within nine months, Apple had sold over 15 million iPads.

Steve Jobs’s bold digital hub strategy had succeeded in transforming the consumer technology industry with the release of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Lesson 11: Despite all the conventional wisdom, Jobs died of cancer in 2011 before he had the chance to receive treatment.

In October 2003, Job discovered he had cancer during a routine urological examination.

Sadly, Jobs approached his cancer the same way he approached a design problem: he ignored all conventional wisdom and devised his own method of combating it.

In lieu of surgery, he tried to cure himself through acupuncture and vegan diets for nine months. After some time, Jobs’ cancerous tumor grew, and invasive surgery was required to remove it.

Even when the cancer came back in 2008, he again insisted on following a strict diet of fruits and vegetables, which resulted in him losing over 40 pounds.

Eventually, Jobs was convinced that he needed a liver transplant; however, afterward, his health took a serious hit from which he would never recover.

In 2011, Jobs passed away. A legacy has been left behind in one of the world’s most valuable tech companies.

Jobs accomplished everything in his life as a result of his incredible intensity, and he said before he died, “I’ve had a very fortunate life, and a very lucky career.”

Steve Jobs’ personality was highly reflected in Apple’s products, which were tightly integrated systems of hardware and software.

Although Microsoft’s open-source strategy – allowing its Windows operating system to be licensed – allowed them to dominate the operating system industry for years, Jobs’s model proved more advantageous in the long run since it provided a seamless, elegant end-to-end user experience.

Steve Jobs was able to witness Apple finally surpass Microsoft as the most valuable technology company in the world shortly before he passed away.

Final Summary   

In Silicon Valley, Jobs grew up at the intersection of arts, technology, drugs, and geekiness. His friendship there would have a profound impact on technology as well as the birth of Apple. Jobs has helped change how we relate to technology with his clean designs and user-friendly interfaces.

Further Reading

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