Steve Jobs: A Biography

Hardcover | October 24, 2011

byWalter Isaacson

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From the author of the bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, this is the exclusive, New York Times bestselling biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

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From the Publisher

From the author of the bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, this is the exclusive, New York Times bestselling biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, c...

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, D.C., wi...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:656 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.9 inPublished:October 24, 2011Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1451648537

ISBN - 13:9781451648539

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Customer Reviews of Steve Jobs: A Biography

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Apple is awesome This is a pretty good book, but apple is more than just Steve Jobs. Lots of people contributed to the iphone
Date published: 2015-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable read. A great insight into the real man. The man and the company ... What we thought we knew and suspected!
Date published: 2015-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Steve Jobs Amazing Insightful and very well written. Enjoyed the historical knowledge of St eve's personal life.
Date published: 2015-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Must read for any tech enthusiast If you are interested in technology and entrepreneurship, I really recommend this book. It was a long read, but all required to understand the development of Apple and their products.
Date published: 2014-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Steve Jobs A very compelling biography of one of the most important personalities of this century. The innovations brought to the world by this man have changed the way we relate to one another and to all of the things we consider entertainment. There are few aspects of living that are not influenced by Jobs and his developments, these are well chronicled in this book
Date published: 2014-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good Read the book and loved it
Date published: 2014-05-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Story & Portrayal I purposely waited to read this as I did not want to be influenced by sentiment after his death & I'm glad I did. It gave me a better perspective on his true genius. As an Apple disciple for the past 10 years, I can only hope that Apple continues Steve's pursuit of perfection rather than profit in the years to come. Sure he may have been an A-hole at times but who isn't. He seemed to reconcile with those closest before he died & all who worked with him felt he brought out the best in them so, it couldn't be all bad. RIP Steve Jobs & great portrayal Walter Isaacson.
Date published: 2014-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Story & Portrayal I purposely waited to read this as I did not want to be influenced by sentiment after his death & I'm glad I did. It gave me a better perspective on his true genius. As an Apple disciple for the past 10 years, I can only hope that Apple continues Steve's pursuit of perfection rather than profit in the years to come. Sure he may have been an A-hole at times but who isn't. He seemed to reconcile with those closest before he died & all who worked with him felt he brought out the best in them so, it couldn't be all bad. RIP Steve Jobs & great portrayal Walter Isaacson.
Date published: 2014-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This book is a complete and detailed account of one of the most creative geniuses that ever traversed the planet. Entertaining and inspirational.
Date published: 2014-04-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book It's a privilege to read such an honest biography
Date published: 2014-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Steve Jobs An amazing story , somewhat inspiring ,very easy to read. Enjoyed every page if it
Date published: 2014-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great man Wholly one of tech industry. Too bad people like him instinct. We need more of them.
Date published: 2014-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great man This is an excellent book. If you love Apple products, it provides an excellent history of the development of Apple. If you love interesting biographies, this may also appeal. Steve Jobs was a very complicated and interesting person and Isaacson does an excellent job of providing a well-rounded picture of who he was. Highly recommend, thoroughly enjoyed it!
Date published: 2014-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great man Fascinating. I could not put it down.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great man Interesting insight into a man that uses resources available, and is able to bring these parts together to bring visionary products to the market. The book was both interesting and insightful.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great man Good read on lessons on life. I would recommend this book to all.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great man I thoroughly enjoyed this account of Steve Jobs' life. It was interesting to read about what kind of person cN change the world the way he has.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great man Eye opening and insightful. Isaacson gives the reader a very well written look into the life of the most famous tech person in history. A recommended read for any Apple lover.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great man I enjoyed this marvelous well written book. It was most interesting biography I've ever read. There were definitely 2 sides of Steve Job that aren't recognized until you read this biography. He was definitely a very caring person.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great man A fine example of what a person can accomplish if he possesses the wisdom and the ability to look ahead into the future. His vision was so forward thinking. A must read for youngsters with an idea and a dream.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jobs Changed the World! I am not a tecno-geek but I could not help but loving this bio of Steve Jobs and the rise of Apple. The man was an artist who believed that technology and humanity could merge into beautifully designed products. The book despite its many pages is a page-turner as we see the development of Apple's beloved product line. It will be interesting to see Apple's future growth without Jobs. Hopefully it will continue to live up to the legacy he left behind,
Date published: 2013-10-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Driven, Passionate, Obsessed As a dedicated, avid and long-time Apple user, I felt obliged to read this bio-retrospective of the man responsible for facilitating so much of my personal and professional electronic communications world. Unlike his products, which are intuitive and user-friendly, this intimate reveal of Steve Jobs provides a unique and often difficult-to-fathom glimpse into the compellingly private, emotionally complex existence of the man behind a global icon. Like so many truly renowned 'artists', defined so often by their proximity to madness, Steve Jobs: A Biography allows readers to feel the madness, the passion, the internalized fermenting turmoil that might just have been Apple's catalyst to becoming a global game changer in the fiercely unemotional industry of electronic communications ... and quite likely contributed to this great visionary's ultimate demise. His vision will likely never be replicated, but this must read, well-told page-turner should do much to keep a light on his legacy and never-ending spirit and drive to achieve simplicity in perfection.
Date published: 2013-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Definitive Biography of Steve Jobs The best biographies plunge us into the life and times of the subject with the page-turning aspects of a novel. They convey the facts of a subject’s life in a compelling narrative, and with extraordinarily famous people, in such a way that we hardly notice we already know many of the details. Steve Jobs is very much one of those extraordinarily famous people. We already know much of the chronology and the accomplishments of his life, and from media we already have a strong sense of his personality. All the more remarkable then, that noted biographer Walter Isaacson has delivered such a fascinating, compelling and moving portrait. Jobs asked Isaacson to write the book - he had already written excellent biographies on Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Henry Kissinger - and Isaacson has used his considerable biographical skills to produce a fascinating, compelling and moving picture. Unlike many authorized biographies it faced no revisions or restrictions by Mr. Jobs. What you see is what you get, and what you get is a truly remarkable tale of a truly remarkable visionary, innovator, and business leader. The book unfolds chronologically, and from an early age Jobs is shown to have smarts, moxy, and unusual personality traits. His string of business successes (Apple, NeXT, Pixar), and his string of product successes (MacIntosh, iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad) is legendary, but only time will tell if he accomplished his primary goal - to build a company that would last, a company that would reinvent itself and remain an innovative leader. Jobs’ odd traits permeate the pages, but Isaacson is non-judgemental, and the book never descends into the voyeuristic sideshow that is a hallmark of so many lesser biographers. For one of the most successful business leaders in history, Jobs also had an unusual indifference to money. When Apple purchased a plane for his use, it was not ostentation, but rather an attempt to give some balance to Jobs’ work and family life. A small detail in a grand life story, but like so many details Isaacson includes, a telling one. The jet, modeled after one owned by his close friend and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, was modified to Jobs’ exacting design standards - the same standards he applied to Apple products. Ellison offers a telling comment about the jet’s completion. “I look at his airplane and mine, and everything he changed was better.” Not more bigger, not faster, not more gold plating ... just “better”, through design. Isaacson’s biography will seem to the new, fresh minds of future generations even more remarkable than it does to us today. It is rare to have an authoritative and unvarnished biography of such a luminary, and it is difficult to imagine any other biographers adding to what Isaacson has written. Unsurprisingly, Steve Jobs is the best selling biography in history. A biography - the biography - that will be read for decades to come.
Date published: 2013-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Reading The Book opens with the quote, "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." This about sums up Steve Jobs. He was crazy and he changed the world. He was mean and he was a genius. He brought about the personal computer revolution and he gave the world products we could love. The biography tells it like it is - no holds barred; it tells the good and the bad side of Steve Jobs and there were a lot of both. The book is a history of Apple as much as it is a biography of Steve Jobs and makes for very interesting reading.
Date published: 2012-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I was really amazed by the live of Jobs. his drive, tenacity, and vision was really unique. Too bad he's gone and I hope Apple continues to give innovative products. RIP Steve.
Date published: 2012-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Modern day Edison I was very interested to know more about the legendary Steve Jobs - I knew he had started up Apple but that was about it. It was a real eye-opener to realize just how eccentric and manic he was with his co-workers. This biography is brtually honest at times and pulls no punches with Jobs and his antics. Keep in mind, however, that Jobs is visualizing something very specific and, more importantly, something no one has thought of yet (but he knows). That would be very frustrating for anyone - constantly waiting for people to catch up to your vision. Nonetheless, Jobs had his faults and this bio describes them in great detail. If you are interested in technology, computers and the recent history of both or if you want to learn about the origins of a man who is both regarded as an extremely succesful businessman and ingenious innovator, you will want to pick this up. At almost 700 pages, it is no lightweight but the author keeps the story going at a fairly brisk rate that you will get through this with minimal difficulty. Apple forever....
Date published: 2012-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book I absolutely enjoyed this book from start to finish. Was looking forward to it for some time and was not deceived. Being a big Apple fan and working in the marketing industry, it has always blows my mind as to how Apple has been able to gain and maintain such market share. This book will take your though the life of a genius that did so much to transform the world we live in.
Date published: 2012-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! I never would have touched a computer if it weren't for Apple. Although I always loved the company and its products, I didn't follow the history or Jobs. But upon his passing, I had to read this book and so glad I did. I look at all the Apple products now a little differently and with greater respect!
Date published: 2011-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! It was a great read. I learned a lot about Jobs that I didn't know, even though I started working in the tech industry in the late 80s. He was a unique individual with passion and drive. What I liked most is that he didn't start out wanting to make money, he just wanted to change the world. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2011-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For anyone running or thinking of opening a business a must read! A fine example of product trumping profit. If the product is great the profit will follow. The courage to go with your convictions when all around you tell you you are wrong. A testament to passion at all costs. My only disappointment is that I wish we learned even more about what made Steve Jobs tick - the man behind the man/persona. A worthwhile read about a truly historical figure. (composed on an iPad)
Date published: 2011-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling This was a great read of Steve's personal work life. It does not go into any real depth on his family life or intimate interactions with his friends. For me it was a great read and one I found difficult to put down until I finished it. I was left with an admiration for his work ethic and his need to bring great products with great design to the customer. Makes me want to go out and get a Mac, the only Apple product I do not own yet :)
Date published: 2011-11-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing Isaacson received the exclusive chance of interviewing Jobs and the dozens of people closest to him. But at the end of the 600-some pages, offers up little analysis or depth into the real Steve Jobs. What made him tick? What gave him the razor sharp business acumen to predict consumer trends? Why WAS he so mean and pathological? Isaacson dances around main issues plenty of times and certainly offers some juicy anecdotal tales and guesses from friends and colleagues, but in the end, he himself never forms a composite answer. This biography reads like an never-ending interview as the interviewer moves from one quote to another and one source to another. That may have been fine as an interview piece for TIME (for which he used to write) but it's hardly enough for a lasting memoir. What upsets me the most is the fact that Jobs allowed Isaacson this rare chance into his personal circle so that he can understand Jobs like nobody can ever before. All this in order for Isaacson to write a biography that JOBS' CHILDREN CAN READ AND GET TO KNOW THEIR FATHER. Jobs himself admits that he's hardly the model father, more often than not neglecting their care for his companies, Pixar and Apple. This biography was suppose to be a chance for Jobs to show his children why he did the things he did and share his passion for his work. But Isaacson understands neither business nor Apple enough to fully capture this. Although the second half of the book is mostly about the growth of Apple in the last decade - relegating Jobs, the person, to a minute role in the book - Isaacson lacks the business capacity to fully analyze the full cause and effects of Apple's decisions, products and actions. So what you are left with is a hap hash mix of personal anecdotes on Jobs and rough dissections on Apple - not enough biography nor enough business case study. Even worse, what Isaacson wrote on the personality of Jobs is NOT a flattering one in the least. Even the most ardent Jobs/Apple fanatic will find it hard to like him after the picture Isaacson paints in his book. If the average reader is left wanting after reading this, I can only wonder what his children will think when they have a chance to read it.
Date published: 2011-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Book of this century. Steve Job is a character, truly change the human's habit and behaviour in this century, the whole world got influence by his innovation products, whether you like it or not, it happened! This book is a must read, really want to dig out the story of a legend. Chinese translation book also available in Asia the same day. Wow!
Date published: 2011-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just ordered! Just ordered via Steve Jobs' iPad! Can't wait to read the book!
Date published: 2011-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You changed our world, our life. iPhone 4S - iPhone for Steve. You are hero in our times.
Date published: 2011-10-06

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Excerpt 1 His personality was reflected in the products he created. Just as the core of Apple’s philosophy, from the original Macintosh in 1984 to the iPad a generation later, was the end-to-end integration of hardware and software, so too was it the case with Steve Jobs: His passions, perfectionism, demons, desires, artistry, devilry, and obsession for control were integrally connected to his approach to business and the products that resulted. The unified field theory that ties together Jobs’s personality and products begins with his most salient trait: his intensity. His silences could be as searing as his rants; he had taught himself to stare without blinking. Sometimes this intensity was charming, in a geeky way, such as when he was explaining the profundity of Bob Dylan’s music or why whatever product he was unveiling at that moment was the most amazing thing that Apple had ever made. At other times it could be terrifying, such as when he was fulminating about Google or Microsoft ripping off Apple. This intensity encouraged a binary view of the world. Colleagues referred to the hero/shithead dichotomy. You were either one or the other, sometimes on the same day. The same was true of products, ideas, even food: Something was either “the best thing ever,” or it was shitty, brain-dead, inedible. As a result, any perceived flaw could set off a rant. The finish on a piece of metal, the curve of the head of a screw, the shade of blue on a box, the intuitiveness of a navigation screen—he would declare them to “completely suck” until that moment when he suddenly pronounced them “absolutely perfect.” He thought of himself as an artist, which he was, and he indulged in the temperament of one. His quest for perfection led to his compulsion for Apple to have end-to-end control of every product that it made. He got hives, or worse, when contemplating great Apple software running on another company’s crappy hardware, and he likewise was allergic to the thought of unapproved apps or content polluting the perfection of an Apple device. This ability to integrate hardware and software and content into one unified system enabled him to impose simplicity. The astronomer Johannes Kepler declared that “nature loves simplicity and unity.” So did Steve Jobs. Excerpt 2 For Jobs, belief in an integrated approach was a matter of righteousness. “We do these things not because we are control freaks,” he explained. “We do them because we want to make great products, because we care about the user, and because we like to take responsibility for the entire experience rather than turn out the crap that other people make.” He also believed he was doing people a service: “They’re busy doing whatever they do best, and they want us to do what we do best. Their lives are crowded; they have other things to do than think about how to integrate their computers and devices.” This approach sometimes went against Apple’s short-term business interests. But in a world filled with junky devices, inscrutable error messages, and annoying interfaces, it led to astonishing products marked by beguiling user experiences. Using an Apple product could be as sublime as walking in one of the Zen gardens of Kyoto that Jobs loved, and neither experience was created by worshipping at the altar of openness or by letting a thousand flowers bloom. Sometimes it’s nice to be in the hands of a control freak. Jobs’s intensity was also evident in his ability to focus. He would set priorities, aim his laser attention on them, and filter out distractions. If something engaged him—the user interface for the original Macintosh, the design of the iPod and iPhone, getting music companies into the iTunes Store—he was relentless. But if he did not want to deal with something—a legal annoyance, a business issue, his cancer diagnosis, a family tug—he would resolutely ignore it. That focus allowed him to say no. He got Apple back on track by cutting all except a few core products. He made devices simpler by eliminating buttons, software simpler by eliminating features, and interfaces simpler by eliminating options. He attributed his ability to focus and his love of simplicity to his Zen training. It honed his appreciation for intuition, showed him how to filter out anything that was distracting or unnecessary, and nurtured in him an aesthetic based on minimalism. Unfortunately his Zen training never quite produced in him a Zen-like calm or inner serenity, and that too is part of his legacy. He was often tightly coiled and impatient, traits he made no effort to hide. Most people have a regulator between their mind and mouth that modulates their brutish sentiments and spikiest impulses. Not Jobs. He made a point of being brutally honest. “My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it,” he said. This made him charismatic and inspiring, yet also, to use the technical term, an asshole at times. Andy Hertzfeld once told me, “The one question I’d truly love Steve to answer is, ‘Why are you sometimes so mean?’” Even his family members wondered whether he simply lacked the filter that restrains people from venting their wounding thoughts or willfully bypassed it. Jobs claimed it was the former. “This is who I am, and you can’t expect me to be someone I’m not,” he replied when I asked him the question. But I think he actually could have controlled himself, if he had wanted. When he hurt people, it was not because he was lacking in emotional awareness. Quite the contrary: He could size people up, understand their inner thoughts, and know how to relate to them, cajole them, or hurt them at will. The nasty edge to his personality was not necessary. It hindered him more than it helped him. But it did, at times, serve a purpose. Polite and velvety leaders, who take care to avoid bruising others, are generally not as effective at forcing change. Dozens of the colleagues whom Jobs most abused ended their litany of horror stories by saying that he got them to do things they never dreamed possible. Excerpt 3 The saga of Steve Jobs is the Silicon Valley creation myth writ large: launching a startup in his parents’ garage and building it into the world’s most valuable company. He didn’t invent many things outright, but he was a master at putting together ideas, art, and technology in ways that invented the future. He designed the Mac after appreciating the power of graphical interfaces in a way that Xerox was unable to do, and he created the iPod after grasping the joy of having a thousand songs in your pocket in a way that Sony, which had all the assets and heritage, never could accomplish. Some leaders push innovations by being good at the big picture. Others do so by mastering details. Jobs did both, relentlessly. As a result he launched a series of products over three decades that transformed whole industries. Was he smart? No, not exceptionally. Instead, he was a genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. He was, indeed, an example of what the mathematician Mark Kac called a magician genius, someone whose insights come out of the blue and require intuition more than mere mental processing power. Like a pathfinder, he could absorb information, sniff the winds, and sense what lay ahead. Steve Jobs thus became the greatest business executive of our era, the one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford. More than anyone else of his time, he made products that were completely innovative, combining the power of poetry and processors. With a ferocity that could make working with him as unsettling as it was inspiring, he also built the world’s most creative company. And he was able to infuse into its DNA the design sensibilities, perfectionism, and imagination that make it likely to be, even decades from now, the company that thrives best at the intersection of artistry and technology. Excerpt 4 The difference that Jony has made, not only at Apple but in the world, is huge. He is a wickedly intelligent person in all ways. He understands business concepts, marketing concepts. He picks stuff up just like that, click. He understands what we do at our core better than anyone. If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it’s Jony. Jony and I think up most of the products together and then pull others in and say, “Hey, what do you think about this?” He gets the big picture as well as the most infinitesimal details about each product. And he understands that Apple is a product company. He’s not just a designer. That’s why he works directly for me. He has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me. There’s no one who can tell him what to do, or to butt out. That’s the way I set it up. Excerpt 5 When Jobs gathered his top management for a pep talk just after he became iCEO in September 1997, sitting in the audience was a sensitive and passionate thirty-year-old Brit who was head of the company’s design team. Jonathan Ive, known to all as Jony, was planning to quit. He was sick of the company’s focus on profit maximization rather than product design. Jobs’s talk led him to reconsider. “I remember very clearly Steve announcing that our goal is not just to make money but to make great products,” Ive recalled. “The decisions you make based on that philosophy are fundamentally different from the ones we had been making at Apple.” Ive and Jobs would soon forge a bond that would lead to the greatest industrial design collaboration of their era. Ive grew up in Chingford, a town on the northeast edge of London. His father was a silversmith who taught at the local college. “He’s a fantastic craftsman,” Ive recalled. “His Christmas gift to me would be one day of his time in his college workshop, during the Christmas break when no one else was there, helping me make whatever I dreamed up.” The only condition was that Jony had to draw by hand what they planned to make. “I always understood the beauty of things made by hand. I came to realize that what was really important was the care that was put into it. What I really despise is when I sense some carelessness in a product.” Ive enrolled in Newcastle Polytechnic and spent his spare time and summers working at a design consultancy. One of his creations was a pen with a little ball on top that was fun to fiddle with. It helped give the owner a playful emotional connection to the pen. For his thesis he designed a microphone and earpiece—in purest white plastic—to communicate with hearing-impaired kids. His flat was filled with foam models he had made to help him perfect the design. He also designed an ATM machine and a curved phone, both of which won awards from the Royal Society of Arts. Unlike some designers, he didn’t just make beautiful sketches; he also focused on how the engineering and inner components would work. He had an epiphany in college when he was able to design on a Macintosh. “I discovered the Mac and felt I had a connection with the people who were making this product,” he recalled. “I suddenly understood what a company was, or was supposed to be.”