Isaacson begins with Job’s humble origins in Silicon Valley, the early triumph at Apple, and the humiliating ouster from the firm he created. He then charts the even greater triumphs at Pixar and at a resurgent Apple, when Jobs returns, in the late nineteen-nineties, and our natural expectation is that Jobs will emerge wiser and gentler from his tumultuous journey. He never does. In the hospital at the end of his life, he runs through sixty-seven nurses before he finds three he likes. “At one point, the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated,” Isaacson writes:

Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked. . . . He also hated the oxygen monitor they put on his finger. He told them it was ugly and too complex.

Was Steve Jobs a Samuel Crompton or was he a Richard Roberts? In the eulogies that followed Jobs’s death, last month, he was repeatedly referred to as a large-scale visionary and inventor. But Isaacson’s biography suggests that he was much more of a tweaker. He borrowed the characteristic features of the Macintosh—the mouse and the icons on the screen—from the engineers at Xerox PARC, after his famous visit there, in 1979. The first portable digital music players came out in 1996. Apple introduced the iPod, in 2001, because Jobs looked at the existing music players on the market and concluded that they “truly sucked.” Smart phones started coming out in the nineteen-nineties. Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, more than a decade later, because, Isaacson writes, “he had noticed something odd about the cell phones on the market: They all stank, just like portable music players used to.” The idea for the iPad came from an engineer at Microsoft, who was married to a friend of the Jobs family, and who invited Jobs to his fiftieth-birthday party. As Jobs tells Isaacson:
史蒂夫 乔布斯是克伦普顿还是理查德罗伯茨?上个月,在乔布斯死后的各种悼词里,他被不停地称为一个远大的梦想家和创造者。但是艾萨克森的传记中暗示他不仅仅是一个“巧匠”。乔布斯在1979年那次著名的拜访后,从施乐PARC的工程师那里借来了Macintosh典型的特性——屏幕上的鼠标和图标。1996年,第一款便携式数字音乐播放器问世。2001年,苹果推出iPod,因为乔布斯看到市场上存在的音乐播放器后得出结论:它们“真是遭透了”。智能手机在1990年代开始暂露头角。2007年,乔布斯推出iPhone,迟到了十多年,是因为“他意识到市场上的手机有点不对劲:它们发陈旧乏味,就像便携式音乐播放器以前那样”,艾萨克森写道。iPad的创意来自微软的一个工程师,他与乔布斯家族的一个朋友结婚,邀请了乔布斯去他的50岁生日party。乔布斯告诉艾萨克森:

This guy badgered me about how Microsoft was going to completely change the world with this tablet PC software and eliminate all notebook computers, and Apple ought to license his Microsoft software. But he was doing the device all wrong. It had a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead. This dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it, and I was so sick of it that I came home and said, “Fuck this, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.”

Even within Apple, Jobs was known for taking credit for others’ ideas. Jonathan Ive, the designer behind the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone, tells Isaacson, “He will go through a process of looking at my ideas and say, ‘That’s no good. That’s not very good. I like that one.’ And later I will be sitting in the audience and he will be talking about it as if it was his idea.”
甚至在苹果内部,乔布斯剽窃别人的创意广为人知。Jonathan Ive是iMac,iPod和iPhone幕后的设计师,他告诉艾萨克森,“乔布斯会完整看一遍我创意的步骤,然后说这不好,那不好,我喜欢那样子。然后我就会坐在观众席上,而他(在台上)谈论这个创意,就好像是他自己提出的。”

Jobs’s sensibility was editorial, not inventive. His gift lay in taking what was in front of him—the tablet with stylus—and ruthlessly refining it. After looking at the first commercials for the iPad, he tracked down the copywriter, James Vincent, and told him, “Your commercials suck.”
乔布斯的才能是善于发现,而非发明。他的天赋在于将面前的事物——有触控笔的平板电脑——拿来然后无情地改造它。看到iPad的第一支广告之后,他找到创意人詹姆斯 文森特,告诉他“你的广告烂透了。”

“Well, what do you want?” Vincent shot back. “You’ve not been able to tell me what you want.”
“I don’t know,” Jobs said. “You have to bring me something new. Nothing you’ve shown me is even close.”
Vincent argued back and suddenly Jobs went ballistic. “He just started screaming at me,” Vincent recalled. Vincent could be volatile himself, and the volleys escalated.
When Vincent shouted, “You’ve got to tell me what you want,” Jobs shot back, “You’ve got to show me some stuff, and I’ll know it when I see it.”

I’ll know it when I see it. That was Jobs’s credo, and until he saw it his perfectionism kept him on edge. He looked at the title bars—the headers that run across the top of windows and documents—that his team of software developers had designed for the original Macintosh and decided he didn’t like them. He forced the developers to do another version, and then another, about twenty iterations in all, insisting on one tiny tweak after another, and when the developers protested that they had better things to do he shouted, “Can you imagine looking at that every day? It’s not just a little thing. It’s something we have to do right.”

The famous Apple “Think Different” campaign came from Jobs’s advertising team at TBWA\Chiat\Day. But it was Jobs who agonized over the slogan until it was right:
著名的苹果“Think Different”论战发生在乔布斯的广告队伍TBWA\Chiat\Day。在品牌口号确定之前,乔布斯精神上一直饱受折磨:

They debated the grammatical issue: If “different” was supposed to modify the verb “think”, it should be an adverb, as in “think differently.” But Jobs insisted that he wanted “different” to be used as a noun, as in “think victory” or “think beauty.” Also, it echoed colloquial use, as in “think big.” Jobs later explained, “We discussed whether it was correct before we ran it. It’s grammatical, if you think about what we’re trying to say. It’s not think the same, it’s think different. Think a little different, think a lot different, think different. ‘Think differently’ wouldn’t hit the meaning for me.”
他们争论着语法问题:假设"different"用来修饰动词"think",那么它应该作为副词,就像"think differently"。但是乔布斯坚持要用"different"作为一个名词,就像"向往胜利"或"向往美丽"。况且,这也符合口语用法,就像"大胆去想"。乔布斯随后解释道,在使用之前,我们讨论它是否符合语法规则。如果你想的是我们要说点什么,它就符合语法规则。不是墨守成规,是不同凡响。从些许不同到很独特再到非同反响。'想法不同'表达不出我想要的含义。"