It’s time for much deeper insights into the character of Steve Jobs

“I’m angry about it, really,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “The treatment around Steve Jobs, in books, in movies and on TV seems to depict him as part-genius, part-ogre, and seldom looks at him as Steve Jobs: Human.”

“The questions I have is if the angry, vengeful, prickly and really rather two-dimensional character that so many seem to portray Steve Jobs to have been would really have been capable of inspiring Woz to engineer the Apple 1?” Evans asks. “Would such a person really have persuaded the Macintosh team to risk their jobs under the pirate flag because doing so was ‘better than joining the navy?'”

“Could such a horrible (and the person so many of these so-called biographies describe is rather horrible) person have got his teams to make the iPhone? Pixar? Or even NeXT OS?” Evans writes. “I don’t think so… I believe it is way past time for people to be given a deeper and more nuanced glimpse into his humanity. I believe such insight will unlock other people’s talent, to the benefit of everybody.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, we continue to wait for the first, good Steve Jobs biography. While we wait, we do recommend one book that offers some good insights:

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Steve Wozniak with Gina Smith.

9 Comments

  1. Only met him briefly once & that does not make me an expert by any stretch.

    But reading from those who spent a lot of time around him makes it clear, he kept people on edge, challenged & probed ideas & people to get them to move beyond what many thought possible.

    That was interpreted by many to say he was overbearing, over demanding, rude, etc. I don’t see it that way.

    You don’t get creative answers by swaddling everyone in fluffy overstuffed chairs with all they can eat and free beer. You have to challenge them.

  2. “Most people that are able to make a sustained contribution over time rather than just a peak are very internally driven. You have to be because in the ebb and tide of people’s opinions and of fads there are going to be times when you are criticized. Criticism is very difficult, and when you are criticized you learn to pull back a little, and listen to your own drummer. To some extend that isolates you from the praise if you get that eventually to. The praise becomes a little less important to you, and the criticism becomes a little less important to you in the same measure. And you become more internally driven. That is why it’s hard doing interviews and being visible: As you are growing and changing, the more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you that it thinks you are, the harder it is to continue to be an artist. Which is why a lot of times, artists have to go, “Bye. I have to go. I’m going crazy and I’m getting out of here.” And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.”

    Source: Steve Jobs: The Unauthorized Autobiography

  3. 1 thing out of place. Steve J. did not inspire Woz to create the Apple I he’d did that on his own and when Jobs saw it he pushed Woz to sell rather than give away the Apple I. I believe he treated Woz quite a bit differently that the other people he pushed to do great things. He did treat Woz badly at times maybe even on the Apple II and onward but I think the Apple I was all Woz.

  4. I have found that being an ogre gets results. Shaming coders is particularly effective. I,e, in front of the team, hand the slow guy the code you give him a week to do, and let them know you did it over night.

    Being a nice guy just gets you screwed over. In pretty much every aspect of life.

    At the same time you should show appreciation for those who earn it.

  5. If Steve Jobs had been the comic-book-evil-genius of lore, Apple would not exist. That personality and management style burns the house down quickly. I agree with the author that there must be much more about him that we don’t know, and will probably never really know.

    1. Exactly, and this is why the hysteria over the current Apple CEO can’t ever subside, no matter who we replace him with. Because our understanding of things is based on comic books.

  6. He was both ! and then few shades of grey in between.

    His charisma was a huge balancing factor that i belive came too his rescue more often than not.

    Im looking forward to Lisa’s book, Small Fry ….. and hopefully more candid and honest books shineing more light on a facinating and complex individual.

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