Steve Jobs authorised his biography for his children

6 October, 2011 - Killian Bell
Steve Jobs biography jacket

While many of us are very familiar with Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO, not many people know the real Steve Jobs – the man appears when Steve isn’t surrounding by the walls of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.

Steve was famous for being an incredibly private individual. While he took great pride and joy out of revealing his incredible adventures to the world, his personal life remained personal. But on October 24, we will discover more about the man we all admire, thanks to the biography by Water Isaacson.

The title is simply entitled ‘Steve Jobs’, and it was initially scheduled to launch on November 21. However, following the tragic news of Steve’s passing yesterday, the book’s publishers, Simon & Schuster, have brought its release forward. Not only that, but Isaacson has released a short passage from the book, which will be published in this week’s Time Magazine:

In the early summer of 2004, I got a phone call from him. He had been scattershot friendly to me over the years, with occasional bursts of intensity, especially when he was launching a new product that he wanted on the cover of Time or featured on CNN, places where I’d worked. But now that I was no longer at either of those places, I hadn’t heard from him much. We talked a bit about the Aspen Institute, which I had recently joined, and I invited him to speak at our summer campus in Colorado. He’d be happy to come, he said, but not to be onstage. He wanted, instead, to take a walk so we could talk.

That seemed a bit odd. I didn’t yet know that taking a long walk was his preferred way to have a serious conversation. It turned out that he wanted me to write a biography of him. I had recently published one on Benjamin Franklin and was writing one about Albert Einstein, and my initial reaction was to wonder, half jokingly, whether he saw himself as the natural successor in that sequence. Because I assumed that he was still in the middle of an oscillating career that had many more ups and downs left, I demurred. Not now, I said. Maybe in a decade or two, when you retire.

But I later realized that he had called me just before he was going to be operated on for cancer for the first time. As I watched him battle that disease, with an awesome intensity combined with an astonishing emotional romanticism, I came to find him deeply compelling, and I realized how much his personality was ingrained in the products he created. His passions, demons, desires, artistry, devilry and obsession for control were integrally connected to his approach to business, so I decided to try to write his tale as a case study in creativity.

So, contrary to my initial thoughts when I first heard about the biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve wasn’t hounded by publishers desperate to get the first glimpse into his private life year after year. He requested the book himself.

Why? Because of his children. While Steve was busy focusing his efforts on changing the world, he says he wasn’t always there for them. He wants them to remember him, and to remember why he wasn’t always there.

Isaacson revealed this in another excerpt from his Time Magazine piece, which was obtained by 9to5Mac:

A few weeks ago, I visited Jobs for the last time in his Palo Alto, Calif., home. He had moved to a downstairs bedroom because he was too weak to go up and down stairs. He was curled up in some pain, but his mind was still sharp and his humor vibrant. We talked about his childhood, and he gave me some pictures of his father and family to use in my biography. As a writer, I was used to being detached, but I was hit by a wave of sadness as I tried to say goodbye. In order to mask my emotion, I asked the one question that was still puzzling me: Why had he been so eager, during close to 50 interviews and conversations over the course of two years, to open up so much for a book when he was usually so private? “I wanted my kids to know me,” he said. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

About the author

Killian Bell is a freelance journalist based in Worcestershire UK. In addition to writing about all things Apple, he's one of the co-founders of the football site TitleTalk. You can follow him on and Twitter.