Gruber: Walter Isaacson blew it with biography of Steve Jobs

Apple CEO Steve Jobs “understood technology but was not an engineer,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball, discussing “Walter Isaacson’s flawed Jobs biography.”

Jobs “had profoundly exquisite taste but was not a designer,” Gruber writes. “What it was that Jobs actually did is much of the mystery of his life and his work, and Isaacson, frustratingly, had seemingly little interest in that, or any recognition that there even was any sort of mystery as to just what Jobs’s gifts really were.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Malcolm Gladwell gets Steve Jobs wrong – November 14, 2011
Open thread: What did you think of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography? – November 10, 2011


  1. Edison’s products tended to be rather lacklustre or behind-the-curve, rather than ahead of it. Other people made light-bulbs, and generators and phonographs as good as his. His company was late in changing from cylinders to discs, and VERY late adopting electric recording and “lateral” recording grooves, as opposed to vertical. He refused to have jazz on his records for a long time. That’s why his belated attempt to catch-up – Edison lateral discs – are so exceedingly rare.. He was no visionary, although he often bullied other pioneers out of the way and claimed the discovery! Steve Jobs could look into the future, and was far brighter.

  2. Just finished the Isaacson book last night. What a horrible book. The author did not understand Jobs at all. There is not description of the genius, the love, the passion, the purity, the quest the Steve made of his life. What is there is a cataloging of a person seen as having a Narcissistic Personality Disorder and not much more.

    Everyone has many facets to them. There is only one dark vision of Jobs in this book.

    Isaacson really seemed to relate to Bill Gates though.

    Someone needs to rewrite the book so the reader can understand events from Steve’s perspective and to convey an understand of the just unbelievable progress he was able to make in building technology for mankind. Apple kept bringing amazing new products and the rest could not even copy it very well. Why is that?

    1. Agreed, a sad and superficial effort by Isaacson. But, judging by the fifth grade reading level, perhaps all he was capable of, Here’s hoping that someday an author with more intelligence, empathy and insight will take on the challenge of authoring the definitive bio.

  3. SJ understood technology, had an eye for and understood design esthetics, and understood the need for a simplified human interface and how to accomplish it. Lastly he knew how (had the wisdom to) to marry these 3 aspects into one. This is why he is called a true “Visionary Genius!” This does not fit into any one category but stands alone on its own above the shoulders of all. Name an inventor, designer, or engineer -and there will be very very few who accomplished what SJ did so eloquently in marrying different facets into one.

  4. I thought the book was great.

    Sure it had some dark parts in regards to jobs but most geniuses have a dark side.

    Stuff about apple is cool but i can find that all over this book got into steve’s life and I liked that.

    1. I’m not at all surprised that you would like the book. Having read quite a few of your comments here, I have a strong impression that you knew and understood very little of Steve Jobs and his work. This book really was written by and for people like you.

      1. Ive been more about technology than any one person over the years.

        I agree the book was written for people who did not already know much about Steve, i only took the time to learn anything about him in the last couple of years.

        The bio is possibly the most ive read about any one person.

  5. The biography was a great, well-written perspective on the life of Steve Jobs. But Steve was way too complex for one book or one man’s perspective. That is why none of the seeming endless yet not nearly enough articles, interviews, stories told after Steve’s death were redundant- there is still so much that hasn’t been revealed. Trying to analyze genius is like trying to analyze sex or music- even the geniuses can’t do it. “We just want to make great products.” Right…

  6. I found the biography pretty straightforward with not a lot of surprises. So I would agree it’s tame. But I also think the author captured the guts of what Steve Jobs did. Remember too that it’s a biography–it’s about the man Steve Jobs, and not necessarily just about his work.

    1. You’re kidding, right? Both Gladwell and Gruber read the book, and you’d know that had you read either article.

      Responding to quotes in a headline of an article will always end badly for you.

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