Steve Jobs: 10 Revealing Quotes from His Biography
Business + Economy

Steve Jobs: 10 Revealing Quotes from His Biography

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When Apple Computer’s co-founder Steve Jobs asked author Walter Isaacson to write his biography seven years ago, Isaacson found the request “presumptuous and premature, since Jobs was still a young man,” Isaacson explained in an interview on “60 Minutes” last night. The author, who had previously written best-selling books about Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger, and is also the CEO of the Aspen Institute, interviewed Jobs more than 40 times over two years about Jobs' work, family and the Apple cofounder's view of himself and the world. 

The publisher's note in  the 656-page book, entitled Steve Jobs, says, "[Jobs] asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged people he knew to speak honestly."  (Isaacson interviewed more than 100 people in addition to Jobs.) Nothing, though, speaks more loudly about Steve Jobs and his impact on the culture and economy, than Jobs himself.  Here are 10 standout quotes from the book – already guaranteed to be one of the year’s biggest hits: 

  • “I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics. Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
  • “I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost much. It was the original vision for Apple. That’s what we tried to do with the first Mac. That’s what we did with the iPod.”
  • “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay… The minute I dropped out I [began] dropping in on the [classes] that looked interesting… I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.”
  • “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important — creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”
  • “This whole vision of a personal computer just popped into my head. [In March 1975], I started to sketch out on paper what would later become known as the Apple I.”
  • “Even if we lose our money, we’ll have a company,” Jobs told Steve Wozniak early on, in the mid 1970s. “For once in our lives, we’ll have a company.”
  • [On choosing the name Apple Computer for their company]:  “I was on one of my fruitarian diets. I had just come back from the apple farm. It sounded fun, spirited, and not intimidating. Apple took the edge off the word ‘computer.’ Plus, it would get us ahead of Atari in the phone book.”
  • “My vision was to create the first fully packaged computer. We were no longer aiming for the handful of hobbyists who liked to assemble their own computers, who knew how to buy transformers and keyboards. For every one of them there were a thousand people who would want the machine to be ready to run.”
  • “When you open the box of an iPhone or iPad, we want that tactile experience to set the tone for how you perceive the product.”
  • “We are inventing the future,” [Jobs told a job applicant]. “Think about surfing on the front edge of a wave. It’s really exhilarating. Now think about dog-paddling at the tail end of that wave. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun. Come down here and make a dent in the universe.”