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[personal profile] krpalmer
Just like many other people, I went out and bought the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Part of my motivation might have been noticing it had been heavily marked down at the local chain bookstore in the first days of release, and part of why that caught my attention might have been that the bookstore chain also promotes "electronic ink" book reader; while such readers aren't often called direct "iPad competitors" these days, I suppose I couldn't escape amused thoughts of "a nod to the competition." (However, the chain did happen to sell the reader business after I bought the book.)

Reading through the book, though, did sort of give me the feeling it could easily be used to support a "Jobs equalled jerk" viewpoint; the assorted small cruelties and other examples of bad behaviour on display, while they might have been different at different times (Jobs eventually seemed to realise his "mucusless" vegan diet didn't mean he didn't have to bathe), had a somehow cumulatively disheartening effect. If I brought away anything to balance against that, it was the feeling the book was Jobs's effort to declare he was intent on Apple continuing to succeed after him and had been working at that.

In some ways, the biography did leave me with the feeling I was already familiar with the details of its larger history. Right around when I bought it, I also dropped into a local remaindered bookstore and noticed copies of "Return to the Little Kingdom" by Michael Moritz, a book written in 1984 about Apple ("cross-cutting" between the prehistory and founding of the company and the final days of development of the first Macintosh) with a more recent afterword; reading through it after the biography struck me with how many of the anecdotes about Jobs (including the unflattering ones) were already present in capsule form in it. The biography may perhaps have left me with thoughts and questions about the larger history of personal computing it didn't answer, but perhaps it hadn't been meant to pose them in the first place. I suppose, though, I was amused to see a comment that there was an early thought of getting Tandy to license the Macintosh design, as the Radio Shack stores were thought to not be competing with Apple's target market. While the book never seemed to go into much detail about Apple's early computing competitors and their various fates, my family having used Radio Shack and Tandy's "proprietary" computers until we finally switched straight to a Macintosh perhaps leaves me intrigued by the juxtaposition. (For one thing, Steve Jobs fussed over a plastic case for Steve Wozniak's Apple II circuit board, and that's nowadays noted as adding to the "character" and "charm" of that computer, but Radio Shack also used a plastic case for the TRS-80, making it silver and black because that matched the surplus black and white TV set that was being modified into its included monitor, and its being "plastic" was said to just add to an impression of "trashiness"...)

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