Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Steve Jobs, tweaker?

If Walter Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs is as balanced as Malcolm Gladwell makes it sound, it should be a pretty good read.
In the nineteen-eighties, Jobs reacted the same way when Microsoft came out with Windows. It used the same graphical user interface--icons and mouse--as the Macintosh. Jobs was outraged and summoned Gates from Seattle to Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters. “They met in Jobs’s conference room, where Gates found himself surrounded by ten Apple employees who were eager to watch their boss assail him,” Isaacson writes. “Jobs didn’t disappoint his troops. ‘You’re ripping us off!’ he shouted. ‘I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!’ ”

Gates looked back at Jobs calmly. Everyone knew where the windows and the icons came from. “Well, Steve,” Gates responded. “I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”
Gladwell's theme is that Jobs was a "tweaker" who perfected what other people came up with. As someone with a fundamentally uncreative, editorial personality, I can relate.

(Isaacson's bio of Kissinger suggests he has little fear of offending a living subject, and he plainly knew that was not going to be a problem for him by the time his book was published. Will read it when the library lets me have it.)

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