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Biographer: Jobs brilliant, prickly, eccentric

Walter Isaacson was interviewed about the new book on 60 Minutes

By Joel Mathis
October 24, 2011 01:49 PM ET

Macworld - Steve Jobs was a brilliant-but-belligerent eccentric who transformed seven different industries, his biographer said in an interview that aired Sunday night on 60 Minutes.

"He's not warm and fuzzy, you know?" said Walter Isaacson, whose book, Steve Jobs, went on sale Monday. "He was very petulant, he was very brittle, he could be very, very mean to people at times, whether it was to a waitress in a restaurant or to a guy who had stayed up all night coding."

For the book, Isaacson interviewed Jobs--the late CEO and co-founder of Apple--more than 40 times before Jobs' death earlier this month at the age of 56. Sunday's television interview, along with the book, covered everything from Jobs' business acumen to personal anecdotes about Jobs' use of drugs and disdain for bathing as a young adult, as well his relationship with his biological parents. (See the video below to watch the first segment.)

Isaacson credited Jobs with transforming personal computing, animated movies, digital publishing, retail stores, music, telephones, and tablet computing. And Jobs' sometimes-abrasive personality gets some of the credit for those transformations, with 60 Minutes Steve Kroft correspondent saying that Apple's success was something "only a complete control freak could've pulled off."

"When he was creating the original Macintosh, Steve Jobs would come in and say, 'We have to have this done by next month.' People would say, 'No no, you can't actually write this much code by next month.' He would say, 'Yes, you can do it.'" Isaacson said. "In the end, he would not take 'No' for an answer. He would make the dent in the universe he wanted."

Jobs acknowledged his prickliness, in two hours of interview tapes Isaacson made available to 60 Minutes.

"I feel totally comfortable going, in front of everybody else, 'God, we really [expletive] up the engineering on this, didn't we?' That's the ante for being in the room," Jobs is heard telling Isaacson on one of the tapes. "We're brutally honest with each other, and all of them tell me they think I'm full of [expletive]. And I can tell anyone I think they're full of [expletive]. We had some rip-roaring arguments where we're yelling at each other."

Other revelations from the 60 Minutes segment and its online extras:

Despite his success, Jobs retained a counterculture distrust of wealth--or, at least, ostentatious displays of it--that was reflected in his dealings with fellow tech industry giant Bill Gates, and even other Apple employees who got rich.

Jobs noted that Gates had become one of the richest men in the world. "That was never really my goal. And in the end, I'm not sure that was his goal either."

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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