While everybody else is waiting in line to buy Steve Jobs's biography, you can get a pretty good idea of the major points from Sunday's night's interview with author Walter Isaacson. After Jobs tapped the Aspen Institute CEO and former Time editor to author the book, Isaacson interviewed Jobs more than 40 times and was one of the last people to see Jobs alive. In a long sit-down with 60 Minutes's Steve Kroft, Isaacson shares some stories covered in the book as well as some that have never been told. It's worth watching the whole thing, if you have time. And if you are actually waiting in line and reading this on an iPhone, stop. You can already download the full book on Amazon.
We've embedded the full Isaacson interview at the bottom of this post, as well as the 60 Minutes Overtime web-exclusives on Jobs's family life and his thoughts on his rivals. The kicker that you ought not wait the full 30-minutes to learn, however, is how Steve Jobs's ambiguous thoughts on the afterlife came to influence the design of Apple's products. That's why there's not an off switch.
Steve Jobs lived in a "reality distortion field:"
Jobs had within him sort of this conflict--but he doesn't quite see it as a conflict--between being hippie-ish and anti-materialistic but wanting to sell things like Wozniak's board. And I think that's exactly what Silicon Valley was all about in these days. Let's do a start-up in our parents garage. [So we don't have to work for somebody else, Kroft says.] Right. And Steve Jobs isn't all that eager to be an employee of Hewlett-Packard.
So distorted, sometimes, Jobs didn't think the rules applied to him:
He had a great Mercedes sports coupe with no license plate on it, that was his affectation. He always believed-- I said, "Why don't you have a license plate?" He said, "Well, I don't want people following me." I said, "Well not having a license plate is probably more noticeable." He said, "Yah, you're probably right. You know why I don't have a license plate?" I said, "Why?" He said, "Because I don't have a license plate." I think he felt the normal rules just shouldn't apply to him. And he had his little every day acts of rebellion that were showing: Hey, I'm a little bit different.
Jobs personally helped come up with the "Think Different" ad campaign:
Steve Jobs helped write that himself. He edited it-- he put in, "They changed the world." By the end, Jobs Along four with or five other people had written this not as ad copy but as a manifesto.
Being rich and conspicuous wasn't Jobs's style:
His house in Palo Alto is a house normal street with a normal sidewalk, no big winding driveway, no big security fences… You could walk into the garden in the back gate and open the back door to the kitchen which used to not be locked. It was a normal family home and he said, "I wanted to live in a normal place where the kids could walk, the kids could go to over other people's houses, and I did not want to live that nutso lavish lifestyle that other people do when they get rich."
Jobs actually met his biological father without knowing it:
So Mona goes to the coffee shop and meets this guy, Mr. Jindala who's running it, who says, among other things when she asks, how sorry he is but then he says that he had another child and Mona said what happened to him and he said, "I don't know we'll never hear from him again." And then he says, "I wish you could've seen me when I was running a bigger restaurant. I used to run one of the best restaurants in Silicon Valley. Everybody used to come there. Even Steve Jobs used to eat there." And Mona's sort of taken aback and bites her tongue and doesn't say "Steve Jobs is your son." But she looks shocked and he says, "Yeah he was a great tipper."
How the afterlife informed Apple's design:
I remember sitting in his back yard in his garden one day, and he started talking about God. He said, "Sometimes I don't. It's 50-50. But ever since I've had cancer I've been thinking about it more, and I find myself believing a bit more. Maybe that's because I want to believe in an afterlife, that when you die it doesn't just all disappear. The wisdom you've accumulated, somehow it just lives on." But then he paused for a second and he said, "Yeah but sometimes I think it's like an on-off switch. Click, and you're gone," he said. Paused again and said, "And that's why I don't put on-off switches on Apple devices."
Part I: Steve Jobs's early life and the founding of Apple
Part II: Jobs's battle with cancer and thoughts on death
The Jobs family photo album:
Jobs talks about his rivals: