Steve Jobs vets his life story

Classy author, Walter Isaacson, is putting the finishing flourish on Steve’s first authorised biography. There were whispers of this book in The New York Times as early as February, 2010. [1] Within ten days, The Huffington Post ran a competition inviting entrants to design the cover. One reader suggested that the book’s title be iSaySo. [2] The publisher, Simon and Schuster, decided upon iSteve – close enough. 

Forbes said that iSteve, “was a remarkably tasteless title…If, as they say, there’s a fine line between stupid and clever, that title was getting very close to it.” [3] The rich man’s magazine may have a point. How did Simon & Schuster's publicity department miss that Steve Wozniak's 2007 bio was similarly entitled iWoz? Nevertheless, iSteve climbed to Amazon's top 50 best-seller list before it was even finished.

Walter, his wife, and his daughter felt the title was “too cutesy”. The author pushed his publisher to rename it simply “Steve Jobs”.  [4] The new title is commonly described as more elegant - using one of Steve’s favourite Jobsian adjectives.

Cnet claimed the original title was a lazy. [5] It could be argued that the safer revision was even lazier. Anyway, Cnet’s critique was surprisingly courageous considering Simon & Schuster is a unit of CBS, whose “Interactive unit” publishes Cnet.

Huffington Post is taking a poll as which title is best. Currently 60/40 in favour of new title, Steve Jobs. [6]  “You had me at Steve”, swooned one doe-eyed Apple Insider commentator. [7]

The difference between authorised and un-authori­zed is often just a different flavour of embellishment. Steve has never been happy with the un-authorised bios. One month before John Wiley & Sons released their un-authorised biography, iCon, all the publisher's books were pulled from the shelves of Apple stores. John Wiley probably had two reactions: Big friggin' deal - no one goes to an Apple store to buy a book anyway; and thanks for the free publicity, Steve. The book’s co-author, Jeffery Young was less than casual about Steve's tantrum. ''This guy is out of control. I'm just a little guy. I'm just one of many guys Steve has destroyed over the years." [8]

Author Leander Kahney took out a million dollar defamation insurance policy just in case Steve didn't like his biography, Inside Steve’s Brain. [9] Considering Steve’s reputation, you can understand why Leander covered his ass.  

There’s no doubt Steve will vet every word of iSteve (and possibly trademark anything he can get legally get away with). The hagiography is bound to be a beautifully-crafted iYawn

Steve has previously demonstrated, not only his desire to rewrite his own history, but also rewrite the history The United States of America so that it can dovetail nicely with his own view of himself. One of the coolest myths about Steve is the idea that he was a child of the sixties zeitgeist. Unfortunately for him, he actually grew up in the tacky seventies - a fact that can't be refuted no matter how many Bob Dylan albums he owns. Nonetheless, in an interview in the documentary, Triumph of The Nerds, Steve never lets an irksome fact get in the way of a good story:
"Remember that the Sixties happened in the early seventies, right, so you have to remember that and that's sort of when I came of age. So I saw a lot of this and to me the spark of that was that there was something beyond sort of what you see every day. It's the same thing that causes people to want to be poets instead of bankers. And I think that's a wonderful thing. And I think that that same spirit can be put into products, and those products can be manufactured and given to people and they can sense that spirit."

"The sixties happened in the early seventies"? Really, Steve? I wonder if your biographer will agree with your reinvention?

Who is the man Steve trusts with his legacy? Walter is a Harvard Man and a Rhodes Scholar. He once ran TIME Magazine and CNN. He’s been honoured with diplomatic appointments by both George.W. [10] and Hillary Clinton [11]. Obama has asked him to chair the Broadcasting Board of Governors.[12] The company-man plays by the rules and never paints outside the numbers. Whereas Steve is the original entrepreneur who doesn’t care what you or I think.  Both men have only one thing in common: neither has changed their company website photo since the '90s.

Walter has already written biographies about Kissinger, Ben Franklin, and Steve's hero, Einstein. The opening lines of Wally’s bestselling biography of Franklin demonstrates that Steve’s story is something he has visited before:

His arrival in Philadelphia is one of the most famous scenes in autobiographical literature: the bedraggled 17-year-old runaway, cheeky, yet with a pretence of humility straggling off the boat and buying three puffy rolls as he wanders up Market Street. [13]

Perhaps iSteve will be Memoir 1.0. It may be more prudent to wait another six months for Memoir 2.0 - thinner and lighter.

[1] Stone, B. (2010, February 15) Jobs Is Said to Assist With Book on His Life. New York Times.

[2] Bosker, B. (2010, February 25) Steve Jobs’ Biography: Design the Cover of Steve Jobs’ Book [Blog]. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

[3]Caulfield, B. (2011, July 5) Truly Terrible Title Of Authorized Steve Jobs Biography Changed [blog]. From Shiny Objects. Retrieved from:

[4]Elmer-DeWitt, P. (2011, July 5) Steve Jobs' bio gets a new title [blog]. From Apple 2.0. Retrieved from:

[5]  Westaway, L. (2011, July 6) Steve Jobs' biography renamed from iSteve to something less cheesy [blog]. From Crave at Retrieved from:

[6] Huffington Post (2011, June 6) Steve Jobs Biography Renamed: 'iSteve' Becomes 'Steve Jobs . Retrieved from:

[7] Apple Insider (2011, July 7) Authorized Steve Jobs biography gets 'more elegant' title. Retrieved from:

[8] Hafner, K. (2005, April 30) Steve Jobs's Review of His Biography: Ban It. New York Times.

[9] Kearney, L. (2010, Februray 15) Steve Jobs Is Collaborating On Authorized Biography — Report. Retrieved from:

[10] Elmer-DeWitt, P. (2011, April 10) The man who won Steve Jobs' trust [blog]. From Apple 2.0. CNNMoney. Retrieved from:

[11] U.S Department of State (2010, April 27) Closing Remarks at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from:

[12] Whitehouse Press Release. (2009, November 11) President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts.

[13] Isaacson, W. (2004) Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. New York: Simon & Schuster.


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