Isaacson: Jobs' Petulance Not Separate from His Passion for the Product

A who's who Silicon Valley crowd packed the Computer History Museum to listen to acclaimed author talk about a friend, boss and icon.

After weeks on tour to promote the biography, Steve Jobs, author Walter Isaacson made it back to Silicon Valley—the place where it all began.

"Where's ?" Isaacson said from the stage as he squinted in search of Jobs' former partner and co-founder of Apple. "I'll just look at him and if he nods, then I'm doing okay."

From Jobs' childhood in Mountain View, the creation of the first Apple computer , the growth of the Apple Corporation in Cupertino, and and sanctuary in Palo Alto, Isaacson–carefully and with vivid description–weaved together the story, success and misperceptions, about Jobs during the talk at CHM on Dec. 13. and the book was released Oct. 24.

"If people are reading only one book this year, you know which one it is," said John Hollar, the chief executive officer of the and moderator, in his introduction.

Isaacson, who had complete editorial control over the book–except for when he felt the "wrath" of Jobs about the original cover design–didn't want to write a "how to" book about Jobs that is, how to become successful like him. Instead, he wanted to write about him "as flesh and blood, as a human being."

Like when the Apple Computer Board of Director removed Jobs from the Macintosh division and subsequently ousted him in 1985.

"He felt abandoned," Isaacson said, adding that Jobs could describe every single day of that last week of May. "He really took it hard."

But Isaacson felt that Jobs' personality continued to be the greatest misperception about him.

"His insatiable petulance was connected to his passion and perfectionism," he said unapologetically in an attempt to shed light on a man he found to be "compelling."

Isaacson recognized Jobs' "bratty temperament" intimidated some; however many more remained loyal and continued on as part of the creative teams that have revolutionized so many industries.

"The petulance that was read into his character from the very beginning ... was not separate from his passion for the product," he said.

The allure for the man behind the product brought hundreds from all over the Bay Area to CHM Tuesday.

"We are here for Steve Jobs, the legend," said Juilee Bhadkamkar, a Fremont resident, about the iconic figure who she noted impacted six industries—computing, technology, telecommunications, entertainment, music and retail. "His life has always been very fascinating from the time that he was born."

Her husband, Raviraj Mahatme, added that he used to be an Apple skeptic; however he converted when he got his first iPhone. "Now I know why people go crazy."

In the audience sat many who had previously worked with or knew Jobs. They understood his hippie and rebellious side, and how that brushed up against the businessman and the technologist.

The former President and CEO of 3Com Bill Krause shared two stories that he thought encapsulated Jobs' character. Krause remembered that in 1982 they called Jobs over to 3Com for a demonstration of their ethernet cables. The cable at the time connected to a jack on the television.

When Jobs arrived, he said, "who is the brain dead idiot that invented this sh*t. It should plug right into the telephone jack."

"That's one side of his personality," the Los Altos resident told Mountain View Patch.

The other, he continued, showed a softer side. A few years later in 1984, the pair sat on a flight to San Francisco from Boston and Jobs mentioned that he should've gone east to Paris to see his then-girlfriend.

"'Why don't you go,'" Krause asked Jobs who replied. "'Because I made a commitment to speak at a San Jose elementary school and I don't want to let them down.'"

When measuring the impact Jobs has had on the world, Isaacson didn't think it fair to compare Jobs to philanthropists like Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie or Andrew Mellon.

"In the end the iPad may change education as much as any Carnegie school," he said.

And that's how Isaacson, the storyteller, concludes the book, the talk and "how all this is woven together."

"Steve's greatest legacy is Apple, the company," he said. "It truly transformed industry after industry by having good ideas and driving the technology behind it."

"I guarantee that even a century from now, Apple will still exist at the intersection of humanity and technology."

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