by Jonathan Rothwell

[LINK] Gruber on Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs'

I still haven’t read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, and probably won’t for quite some time (mostly due to my own stinginess.) I have, however, been quietly anticipating Gruber’s review.

Frustratingly, it appears to reinforce the consensus: Isaacson’s biography is a thorough and reasonably well-rounded portrait of everything we already knew about Steve Jobs, not really providing any new information. This paragraph sums it up neatly:

Far less documented are the subsequent stages of Jobs’s career: the NeXT years and his return to Apple. As a counterpart to Jobs for those years, Isaacson repeatedly turned to Bill Gates.

Why Isaacson saw fit to mostly overlook these parts of Jobs’s career is puzzling. We do know that the NeXT years were ultimately critical for Apple: the Macintosh, the iPhone and the iPad now all run distributions of what is, essentially, NeXTSTEP 6. The few accounts that do exist of Jobs’s personality at NeXT seem to indicate a mellowing of his personality, and a man with clearer insights into the future of personal computing.

It just seems astonishing, with my historian’s hat on, that these crucially formative years for both Jobs and Apple are so sparsely documented. As far as I’m concerned, this represents an opportunity missed.