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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

It took me a few days less than three weeks to read the Book 44, the Steve Jobs biography, which continues my slow progress through this section of the library. Biographies are typically quite long books and most of them are not page turners that you can rattle through in a few days.

That doesn't mean to say I don't enjoy them though. I have got something from all the biographies I have read so far: Wainright, Marx and Jobs. Although I work in a similar industry to that of Jobs, he's the most different type of person to me than either of the other two, and therefore in many ways the most difficult to relate to. I am not and never would have been a high powered businessman, so in many ways I identify more with Marx and Wainwright's years of solitary industry than I do with Jobs's construction of a business empire.

Obviously though reading of the evolution of the several Apple devices which changed the world was personally interesting to me. I have never owned anything made by Apple, but I have used extensively some of the second wave of products that copy their ideas - Windows and Android largely. Jobs is a few years older than me but I can still understand the extent of what he achieved in the 1970s when he and Wozniak built the first apple machine in his dad's garage.

Interesting as this book is it's not really a full biography of Steve Jobs at all. It's much more a business biography. I know he spent most of his waking day at work but he still had a life outside the office and this is not the main focus of the book. It's very much a catalogue of the products and services which Steve Jobs developed rather than an account of his personal life. To some extent that's because it's a first biography which Jobs himself asked for, although refused to read. It would be interesting to read a more complete and independent biography that doesn't hold anything back.

I never met or even saw Jobs but I don't think I would have liked him as a boss, he's definitely not my type of employer. If I had to choose between him and Bill Gates as my boss (oh to have had that choice!) I would plump for Microsoft every day of the week. That's not to say though I am not in awe of what Jobs achieved - without even writing a line of code himself!

Next up for Book 45 is another biography, this one of Bobby Fisher the chess player.

As a (weak) Dorking Chess Club player myself I enjoy the game, and Fisher was one of the great characters in its history. He also lived in an interesting time during the Cold War when chess was a very competitive area between the two super powers. Reading about Fisher is going back to the "loners" like Marx and Wainright, rather than Alpha Males like Jobs.

Endgame is "only" 450 pages so it should be polished off in no time :>)

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