Much has been written about Steve Jobs since his death last month. Three things stand out: his sister’s eulogy, his Stanford commencement speech, and the Steve Jobs biography.
His sister’s eulogy was printed in the New York Times. Intimate, full of love, and very moving. Easy to see why she’s a college English professor.
This Youtube clip of Job’s 2005 Stanford Commencement speech has been viewed more than 6 million times. It’s a great commencement speech — very inspiring, as it should be. It’s so inspiring that I wondered how much help he got. According to Jobs’ biographer (see below), Jobs initially asked a noted speechwriter to help with the speech, but then wrote the speech himself. Jobs talks about death as a good thing, clearing out the old for the young. When I first heard the speech, I didn’t know the severity of the cancer that eventually killed him, so I viewed his discussion of death as an abstract concept, and not the cancer he lived with every day.
There’s the authorized Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. Jobs asked Isaacson to write his biography and placed no limits on who Isaacson could talk to or what he would write. Jobs only asked to redesign the cover. The book is well-written and balanced, showing Jobs both as a product genius and a jerk. Isaacson asked why Jobs wanted a biography; Jobs said he wanted his children to get to know him better through the biography. The products Jobs helped develop is amazing, spanning Apple, NeXT, Pixar, and Apple.
I especially enjoyed the comparison of Jobs and Bill Gates. They both were born in the same year (1955), dropped out of college, and founded notable technology companies. Jobs tightly controlled products, hardware, and software; Gates fostered PC clones. Jobs said that Microsoft copied the Apple user interface, while Gates said that Apple and Microsoft copied the Xerox user interface. Jobs is intuitive; Gates is analytic. Gates established a foundation to give away his money; Jobs kept his money invested in Apple and Disney.