A new biography portrays Steve Jobs as a skeptic all his life –
giving up religion because he was troubled by starving children,
calling executives who took over Apple “corrupt” and delaying
cancer surgery in favor of cleansings and herbal medicine.
“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, to be published Monday, also
says Jobs came up with the company’s name while he was on a diet of
fruits and vegetables, and as a teenager perfected staring at
people without blinking.
The Associated Press purchased a copy of the book Thursday.
The book delves into Jobs’ decision to delay surgery for nine
months after learning in October 2003 that he had a neuroendocrine
tumor – a relatively rare type of pancreatic cancer that normally
grows more slowly and is therefore more treatable.
Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies and
other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic. He
went to a clinic that advised juice fasts, bowel cleansings and
other unproved approaches before having surgery in 2004.
Isaacson, quoting Jobs, writes in the book: “‘I really didn’t
want them to open up my body, so I tried to see if a few other
things would work,’ he told me years later with a hint of
Jobs died Oct. 5, at age 56, after a battle with cancer.
The book also provides insight into the unraveling of Jobs’
relationship with Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and an
Apple board member from 2006 to 2009. Schmidt had quit Apple’s
board as Google and Apple went head-to-head in smartphones, Apple
with its iPhone and Google with its Android software.
Isaacson wrote that Jobs was livid in January 2010 when HTC
introduced an Android phone that boasted many of the touch and
other popular features of the iPhone. Apple sued, and Jobs told
Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google’s actions amounted
to “grand theft.”
“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will
spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this
wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a
stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
Jobs used an expletive to describe Android and Google Docs,
Google’s Internet-based word processing program. In a subsequent
meeting with Schmidt at a Palo Alto, Calif., cafe, Jobs told
Schmidt that he wasn’t interested in settling the lawsuit, the book
“I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t
want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our
ideas in Android, that’s all I want.” The meeting, Isaacson wrote,
The book is clearly designed to evoke the Apple style. Its cover
features the title and author’s name starkly printed in black and
gray type against a white background, along with a black-and-white
photo of Jobs, thumb and forefinger to his chin.
The biography, for which Jobs granted more than three dozen
interviews, is also a look into the thoughts of a man who was
famously secret, guarding details of his life as he did Apple’s
products, and generating plenty of psychoanalysis from a
Jobs resigned as Apple’s CEO on Aug. 24, six weeks before he
Doctors said Thursday that it was not clear whether the delayed
treatment made a difference in Jobs’ chances for survival.
“People live with these cancers for far longer than nine months
before they’re even diagnosed,” so it’s not known how quickly one
can prove fatal, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical
officer of the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Michael Pishvaian, a pancreatic cancer expert at Georgetown
University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, said people
often are in denial after a cancer diagnosis, and some take a long
time to accept recommended treatments.
“We’ve had many patients who have had bad outcomes when they
have delayed treatment. Nine months is certainly a significant
period of time to delay,” he said.
Fortune magazine reported in 2008 that Jobs tried alternative
treatments because he was suspicious of mainstream medicine.
The book says Jobs gave up Christianity at age 13 when he saw
starving children on the cover of Life magazine. He asked whether
his Sunday school pastor knew what would happen to them.
Jobs never went back to church, though he did study Zen Buddhism
Jobs calls the crop of executives brought in to run Apple after
his ouster in 1985 “corrupt people” with “corrupt values” who cared
only about making money. Jobs himself is described as caring far
more about product than profit.
He told Issacson they cared only about making money “for
themselves mainly, and also for Apple -rather than making great
Jobs returned to the company in 1997. After that, he introduced
the candy-colored iMac computer, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad,
and turned Apple into the most valuable company in America by
market value for a time.
The book says that, while some Apple board members were happy
that Hewlett-Packard gave up trying to compete with Apple’s iPad,
Jobs did not think it was cause for celebration.
“Hewlett and Packard built a great company, and they thought
they had left it in good hands,” Jobs told Isaacson. “But now it’s
being dismembered and destroyed.”
“I hope I’ve left a stronger legacy so that will never happen at
Apple,” he added.
Advance sales of the book have topped best-seller lists. Much of
the biography adds to what was already known, or speculated, about
Jobs. While Isaacson is not the first to tell Jobs’ story, he had
unprecedented access. Their last interview was weeks before Jobs
Jobs reveals in the book that he didn’t want to go to college,
and the only school he applied to was Reed, a costly private
college in Portland, Ore. Once accepted, his parents tried to talk
him out of attending Reed, but he told them he wouldn’t go to
college if they didn’t let him go there. Jobs wound up attending
but dropped out after less than a year and never went back.
Jobs told Isaacson that he tried various diets, including one of
fruits and vegetables. On the naming of Apple, he said he was “on
one of my fruitarian diets.” He said he had just come back from an
apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not
Jobs’ eye for simple, clean design was evident early. The case
of the Apple II computer had originally included a Plexiglas cover,
metal straps and a roll-top door. Jobs, though, wanted something
elegant that would make Apple stand out.
He told Isaacson he was struck by Cuisinart food processors
while browsing at a department store and decided he wanted a case
made of molded plastic.
He called Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, his “spiritual
partner” at Apple. He told Isaacson that Ive had “more operation
power” at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself – that there’s no
one at the company who can tell Ive what to do. That, says Jobs, is
“the way I set it up.”
Jobs was never a typical CEO. Apple’s first president, Mike
Scott, was hired mainly to manage Jobs, then 22. One of his first
projects, according to the book, was getting Jobs to bathe more
often. It didn’t work.
Jobs’ dabbling in LSD and other aspects of 1960s counterculture
has been well documented. In the book, Jobs says LSD “reinforced my
sense of what was important – creating great things instead of
making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of
human consciousness as much as I could.”
He also revealed that the Beatles were one of his favorite
bands, and one of his wishes was to get the band on iTunes, Apple’s
revolutionary online music store, before he died. The Beatles’
music went on sale on iTunes in late 2010.
The book was originally called “iSteve” and scheduled to come
out in March. The release date was moved up to November, then,
after Jobs’ death, to Monday. It is published by Simon &
Schuster and will sell for $35.
Isaacson will appear Sunday on “60 Minutes.” CBS News, which
airs the program, released excerpts of the book Thursday.
Ortutay reported from New York. AP Technology Writer Peter
Svensson contributed to this story from New York. AP Chief Medical
Writer Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee also contributed to this