Letters to Steve: Steve Jobs fan mail gets a Kindle Book treatment

The title says it all: “Letters to Steve: Inside the E-mail Inbox of Apple’s Steve Jobs“. A new book penned by CNN technology writer Mark Milian takes a look at the hundreds of emails between Jobs and the people that discovered his publicly available email address. It also includes never-before-published e-mails exclusive to the book, which is available starting today for $2.99 on Amazon.

This book is based on interviews with many of the customers and fans Jobs communicated with. These tales reveal the intricacies of how Jobs portrayed himself as likable and accessible through direct interaction with fans. He handled customer-service inquiries himself and carefully revealed hints about upcoming Apple products, guaranteeing headlines on blogs. However, some of these letters, when analyzed, provide a glimpse into his “reality distortion field,” in which he lobs insults, bends the truth and uses misdirection in order to manipulate anyone on the receiving end.

To accompany the release of the book, CNN is running a three-part series on their website. The first part in that series was published today and details Jobs’ emails related to customer service. Here’s an excerpt where customer  Scott Steckley recalls receiving a phone call from Jobs after emailing him regarding a long wait for his Mac repair:

“Hi Scott, this is Steve,” Steckley recalled hearing from the other end of the phone.

“Steve Jobs?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Jobs said. “I just wanted to apologize for your incredibly long wait. It’s really nobody’s fault. It’s just one of those things.”

“Yeah, I understand.”

Then Jobs explained that he expedited the repair. “I also wanted to thank you for your support of Apple,” Jobs said. “I see how much equipment you own. It really makes my day to see someone who enjoys our products so much and who supports us in the good times and bad.”

This next one has been posted before but is still entertaining:
Read more

Gassée: Thank God Apple chose Steve Jobs’s NeXT over my BeOS

Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple’s former head of Macintosh product development between 1981-1990, has commented on Apple’s crucial choice of Steve Jobs’s NeXTSTEP as their operating system back in 1996 instead of BeOS, his own creation. Much of NeXTSTEP code would make possible Mac OS X, later adapted for Apple’s mobile devices.

Speaking at a Churchill Club “Steve Jobs’ Legacy” talk event (which is fantastic the whole way through – above) in San Jose yesterday, Gassée remarked (at about an hour in):

Thank god that didn’t happen, because I hated Apple’s management.

BeOS was pretty good, mind you. Positioned as a multimedia platform, BeOS benefited from symmetric multiprocessing, pervasive multithreading, preemptive multitasking and BFS, a custom 64-bit journaling file system known as BFS. It too was developed on the principles of clarity and an uncluttered design.

So why did Apple side with NeXT and acquired the company on February 4, 1997 for  $429 million? In hindsight, even though beOS was pretty good, it was the aquisition of Jobs that was worth to Apple more than the NeXTSTEP software. Or, as Gassée put it, “Jobs’s acquisition of Apple”.

Read more

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

Read more

Bill Gates on Jobs bio quotes “he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things” [Video]

Gates defends himself slightly but seems smart enough (and secure enough) not to handle the tough words head on.

“Well, Steve and I worked together, creating the Mac. We had more people on it, did the key software for it.”

“So, over the course of the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things. I mean, he faced several times at Apple the fact that their products were so premium priced they literally might not stay in the marketplace. So, the fact that we were succeeding with high-volume products, including a range of prices, because of the way we worked with multiple companies, its tough.”

“At various times, he felt beleaguered. He felt like he was the good guy and we were the bad guys. You know, very understandable. I respect Steve, we got to work together. We spurred each other on, even as competitors. None of that bothers me at all.”

It is getting harder and harder to hate Bill.

Read more

Former Compaq Chairman, and current Mac user, reveals that Jobs asked Compaq to license the Mac OS in 1999

Among other interesting tidbits on Steve Jobs, technology investment pioneer Ben Rosen reveals that the new Apple CEO invited the then Compaq Chairman and CEO to Silicon Valley in 1999 to inquire about licensing Mac OS X:

After we finished with the amenities and reminiscences, we got to the purpose of the meeting. Steve wanted Compaq to offer the Apple operating system on its PC line, adding to the Microsoft OS that had always been our sole OS. At the time, Compaq was the world’s largest manufacturer of PCs. Our adopting the Apple OS would be seen as a feather in Apple’s cap (and a pretty visible slap at Microsoft). The catching up with Steve was fun, the food was great, but the OS idea never gained traction. Upon further analysis, it didn’t make sense for either Compaq or Apple. Compaq wasn’t about to declare war on Microsoft, our partner from our birth in 1982, and Steve had second thoughts about licensing their crown jewels.

What’s interesting here is this is a year after the introduction of the iMac and more than a year after Jobs had terminated Mac Clone licensing deals with Power Computing, Motorola and others. This was something else entirely.

This is also around the time OS X was being tested (the server version which was a NeXT port was released that same year). From the Intel transition announcement (4:40 above) we know Apple always had an Intel version of the Mac OS X being built alongside the PowerPC version (codenamed Marklar) but it now appears that Apple was seriously considering licensing the Intel version alongside the PowerPC version when the Mac OS X client was released way back at the turn of the decade.

Imagine an alternative universe where Compaq Macs competed with Apple’s Macs through the last decade. Weird.

Also, Rosen has a warm email contact with Steve Jobs where he reveals that though he was a Compaq CEO and Chariman for 20 years, he’s back to using a Mac as of 2007, below:

Read more

Steve Jobs’ harsh words for Bill Gates and his biological father

Before Steve Jobs’ biography drops Monday, many news outlets have already gotten their hands on excerpts from the book. Huffington Post has posted tonight some excerpts from the biography regarding Steve Jobs’ harsh comments on Bill Gates. Steve said:

“He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”

Bill said regarding Steve:

“He really never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works.”

Steve said:

“Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

When it comes to Steve Jobs’ biological father, who we profiled a few months ago, Steve also harshly said..

Read more