What’s in the Steve Jobs book

October 21, 2011, 10:22 AM UTC

The flood of revelations from the year’s hottest biography began four days early

Cover image: Simon & Schuster

The best-laid plans of authors and publishers often go awry when the bookstores get their copies.

Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs — the most hotly anticipated biography in years, at least in some circles — was supposed to have a dramatic worldwide laydown on Monday. But to the distress of Isaacson, Simon & Schuster and the dozens of publications that bought first or second serial rights, some reporters got their hands on the 630-page volume on Thursday. Result: The flood of revelations began four days early.

Our cheat-sheet, with links to the sources (ALERT — Multiple spoilers ahead):

● Steve Jobs refers to his biological parents as his “sperm and egg bank” (Associated Press)
● He had high praise for Paul Jobs’ work ethic. “He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.” (New York Times book review)
● He was bullied in school (AP) and learned to fight back verbally. “He could stun an unsuspecting victim with an emotional towel-snap, perfectly aimed,” writes Isaacson (NYT book review)
● He gave up Christianity at age 13 when he saw starving children on the cover of Life magazine. (AP)
● As a teenager, he loved King Lear, Moby Dick and the poetry of Dylan Thomas (Huffington Post)
● He was returning from an apple farm on one of his fruitarian diets when he chose the name of his company (AP)
● He told John Sculley (the former Pepsi exec who ousted Jobs) that if he hadn’t started Apple (AAPL) he might have been a poet in Paris (HuffPo)
● He calls the crop of executives brought in to run Apple after he left “corrupt people” with “corrupt values” (AP)
● He is contemptuous of the people at Microsoft (and, to some extent, Google), whom he sees as pure technologists, with no humanities and liberal arts in their DNA. “They just didn’t get it. Even when they saw the Mac they couldn’t even copy it well.” (60 Minutes Overtime, via CNET)
● He calls Apple’s design chief Jonathan Ive his “spiritual partner” and says that no one but Jobs had the authority to tell him what to do. (AP) “Most people in Steve’s life are replaceable,” says Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell. “But not Jony.” (Mercury News)
● In the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton sought advice from Jobs. “I don’t know if you did it,” he told the President, “but if so, you’ve got to tell the country.” (Washington Post)
● He told Barack Obama he was headed for a one-term presidency (Huffington Post)
● He offered to create Obama’s ad campaign but became annoyed because Obama’s strategist David Axelrod wasn’t sufficiently deferential (HuffPo)
● He joked that he had to hide the knives from his wife when Rupert Murdoch came to dinner (New York Times)
● He was “annoyed and depressed” by the iPad launch’s lukewarm reception — which included more than 800 e-mails from users (HuffPo)
● He was livid when Google (GOOG) copied the iPhone’s interface, calling it “grand theft” (AP)
● He swore to Isaacson he was going to destroy Android to his “last dying breath,” even if he had to spend Apple’s entire $40 billion cash hoard to do it (AP)
● Yet when asked for business advice from Google CEO Larry Page earlier this year, he obliged, telling him to focus on just five products. “Get rid of the rest, because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)
● He told Isaacson he had figured out how to make a TV that was “completely easy to use… It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.” (WashPost)
● He scrapped an early design for the new Cupertino campus because its shape reminded his teenage son of male genitalia (Merc)
● He once told John Sculley he thought he would die young (HuffPo)
● He came to regret having delayed surgery when his cancer was first diagnosed — turning instead to fruit juices, acupuncture and herbal cures, some of which he found on the Internet (NYT)
“The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body,” his wife told Isaacson. “It’s hard to push someone to do that.” (NYT)
● When he decided to fight his cancer with modern medicine, he spared no expense — including $100,000 to have the DNA of his tumor sequenced (NYT)
● Jobs began meeting last spring with the people he wanted to see before he died, including Bill Gates (NYT)
● Gates was fascinated with Jobs but found him “fundamentally odd” and “weirdly flawed as a human being” (HuffPo)
● Jobs was working on new Apple products until the day he died (PC Magazine)
● He told Isaacson, perhaps in jest, that his fear of death without an afterlife — “click and you’re gone” — was why he didn’t like putting on-off switches on Apple devices (60 Minutes via Andy Ihnatko)

UPDATE: CBS has posted Sunday’s 60 Minutes interview with Walter Isaacson plus two segments that weren’t in the broadcast. Click here.

Starting Monday, you will be able to buy Steve Jobs by Walter Isaascon in hardcover (list price: $35) at a bookstore near you or as a $16.99 e-book from Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore or Barnes & Noble.