Isaacson on Jobs’ final words: “Steve left us with a mystery” (and other great quotes)


Steve Jobs’s authorized biographer Walter Isaacson and Fortune’s managing editor Andy Serwer on stage at NASDAQ | Photo: Tanner Curtis

In a series of tweetsFortune released some interesting new quotes by Steve Jobs’ authorized biographer Walter Isaacson, who sat down for a “breakfast conversation” with the magazine’s managing editor Andy Serwer.

“It’s good that we’ve made a big deal out of a creative business leader, rather than a celebrity,” Isaacson told Serwer, describing his rock star status as a cultural icon of our time. “There’s an emotional connection Steve Jobs made across the world – like a rock star or a prince”.

“Steve thought the digital hub had moved from the computer to the cloud,” Isaacson said. Over the years, Jobs changed as a manager in a way that “he didn’t become sweeter or kinder, he learned to channel his energy and passion.”


Walter Isaacson signing books in Times Square | Photo: Tanner Curtis

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Jobs viewed textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform…

The New York Times reveals yet another tidbit from the Steve Jobs bio: The next business he wanted to transform was the school textbook business.

He held meetings with major publishers about partnering with Apple, the book says. If textbooks were given away free on iPads he thought the publishers could get around the state certification of textbooks. Mr. Isaacson said Mr. Jobs believed that states would struggle with a weak economy for at least a decade. “We can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money,” he told Mr. Isaacson.

It isn’t exactly clear how the business model would work in this case but perhaps the fruits of that labor will be seen in coming months and years.

Perhaps more tantalizing, the Times teases that in his resignation meeting, Jobs also peppered Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller with questions about the data capacity of 4G cellular networks and what features should be in future phones. (FaceTime?!)

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Jobs told biographer that he cracked the code to building an HDTV

The Washington Post details an interesting revelation from Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson prior to his death earlier this month.

“He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,” Isaacson wrote.

Isaacson continued: “‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’”

That is particularly interesting when you consider that Apple has been rumored to be entering the TV business since the beginning of time. There has also been speculation that Apple’s Siri Voice control could play a big part in Apple’s HDTV venture.

Jobs’ passage could also relate to the current Apple TV model which Apple just makes the pass-through box, instead of Apple actually manufacturing the LCD TVs themselves. Obviously with iCloud only being released this month, there could be some Apple TV updates coming shortly.

Meanwhile, CBS posted another clip from the 60 Minutes interview with Isaacson in which Jobs himself reveals on tape the circumstances around meeting his biological father, below:

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Jobs told Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it”

Details from the upcoming Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson continue trickling in as big media got an early copy of the book. Both the Associated Press and the New York Times have published excerpts that offer a unique insight into the life of the famously private Silicon Valley luminary. According to a New York Times article from yesterday, after attempting to combat a cancerous tumor on his pancreas with a special vegan diet, Jobs then turned to the latest in modern medicine, which included an experimental gene therapy:

According to Mr. Isaacson, Mr. Jobs was one of 20 people in the world to have all the genes of his cancer tumor and his normal DNA sequenced. The price tag at the time: $100,000. The DNA sequencing that Mr. Jobs ultimately went through was done by a collaboration of teams at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT. The sequencing, Mr. Isaacson writes, allowed doctors to tailor drugs and target them to the defective molecular pathways. A doctor told Mr. Jobs that the pioneering treatments of the kind he was undergoing would soon make most types of cancer a manageable chronic disease. Later, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it.

A 60 Minutes preview with Walter Isaacson also touched on Jobs’ cancer treatment, with the biographer revealing that Apple’s late CEO in hindsight was regretful for going with a special diet rather than chose to operate on it sooner. Another interesting tidbit from the New York Times article: Apple’s co-founder began designing his own luxury yacht back in 2009. This is a surprise since Jobs was many things, but not the kind of guy who would display his wealth:

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