Jobs Could Be 'Petulant, Brittle, Mean': Biographer

Walter Isaacson talks about his book on '60 Minutes'

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 24, 2011 7:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – Walter Isaacson’s highly anticipated biography of Steve Jobs is out today, and the author was on 60 Minutes last night for a lengthy interview about the book and its subject. Highlights, via Mashable and BusinessWeek:

  • Jobs admired Facebook: “We talk about social networks in the plural, but I don’t see anybody other than Facebook out there,” Jobs said in one interview with Isaacson. “Just Facebook, they’re dominating this. … I admire Mark Zuckerberg. I only know him a little bit, but I admire him for not selling out, for wanting to make a company. I admire that, a lot.”
  • Google and Microsoft, not so much: “Microsoft never had the humanities and the liberal arts in the DNA; it was pure technology company, and they just didn’t get it,” Jobs said. “Google’s the same way. They just don’t get it.”

  • He was inspired by Bay Area counter-culture: “He was sort of a hippie-ish rebel kid,” Isaacson said. While working for Atari, Jobs was put on the night shift because his colleagues didn’t like working with him—he never bathed, and went barefoot.
  • He resisted authority: According to Isaacson, Jobs felt normal rules didn’t apply to him; for example, he wouldn’t put a license plate on his Mercedes sports coupe.
  • He struggled with the idea of God: He started believing in God’s existence “a bit more” toward the end of his life, Jobs told Isaacson, and added that he wanted to “believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear.” Other times, he viewed life as more of "an on-off switch. Click and you’re gone. And that’s why I don’t like putting on-off switches on Apple devices," Jobs explained.
  • It’s not all good stuff: “He could be very, very mean to people at times,” says Isaacson, who calls Jobs “petulant” and “brittle.” When asked by his biographer why he hadn’t been nicer to people in certain situations, Jobs said, “I really wanna be with people who demand perfection.”
Click for the full video and transcript of the segment.

People walk past a screen showing the cover of the book "Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson at a book shop in Hong Kong Monday, Oct. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A customer walks past some books " Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson at a book shop in Hong Kong Monday, Oct. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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