Subscribe to The Atlantic and get 2 free issues

And Then Steve Said, 'Let There Be an iPhone'

An excerpt from Vogelstein's new book Dogfight, inside the making of the iPhone—a story of clashing egos, technical risks, secrecy and a big bet by Steve Jobs and Apple about where the company's future would lie:

"Grignon and his team could only ensure a good signal, and then pray. They had AT&T, the iPhone’s wireless carrier, bring in a portable cell tower, so they knew reception would be strong. Then, with Jobs’s approval, they preprogrammed the phone’s display to always show five bars of signal strength regardless of its true strength. The chances of the radio’s crashing during the few minutes that Jobs would use it to make a call were small, but the chances of its crashing at some point during the 90-minute presentation were high. 'If the radio crashed and restarted, as we suspected it might, we didn’t want people in the audience to see that,' Grignon says. 'So we just hard-coded it to always show five bars.'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 5, 2013
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6009 words)

Inside Apple's Plans for Its Futuristic, $5 Billion Headquarters

Steve Jobs had grand plans for Apple's new headquarters, but now there are questions over whether the company should be going through with them:

"Apple hasn’t announced any major changes to Jobs’s vision, so some of the sought-after $1 billion savings will likely come by rolling back his sky-high requirements for fit and finish. Rather than cement floors, Jobs wanted to use a stone-infused alternative such as terrazzo, buffed to a sheen normally reserved for museums and high-end residences. Jobs insisted that the tiny gaps where walls and other surfaces come together be no more than 1/32 of an inch across, vs. the typical ⅛ inch in most U.S. construction. Rather than a lightweight, sound-absorbing acoustical tile, Jobs even wanted the ceilings to be polished concrete. Contractors would typically erect molds with crude scaffolds to pour the cement in place, but that leaves unsightly ruts where the scaffolding puts extra pressure on the surfaces. According to two people who’ve seen the plans, Apple will instead cast the ceilings in molds on the floor and lift them into place, a far more expensive approach that left one person involved in the project speechless."
PUBLISHED: April 4, 2013
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2750 words)

Tim Cook's Freshman Year: The Apple CEO Speaks

Cook reflects on his early days with Apple, how the company has changed in the past year, and what Steve Jobs told him before he died:

"So we started talking about what it meant. Again, this is when I am thinking, and I’m certain he’s thinking, that this is going to go on for a long, long period where he’s the chairman and I am CEO. So I’m trying to understand—how does he see this working? He had obviously thought very deeply about it.

"And as a part of this, I asked him about different scenarios to understand how he wanted to be involved as chairman. He said, 'I want to make this clear. I saw what happened when Walt Disney passed away. People looked around, and they kept asking what Walt would have done.' He goes, 'The business was paralyzed, and people just sat around in meetings and talked about what Walt would have done.' He goes, 'I never want you to ask what I would have done. Just do what’s right.' He was very clear."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 6, 2012
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8482 words)

The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale?

Entrepreneurs continue to reflect on the lessons of Steve Jobs—is his story ultimately a cautionary tale about a person obsessed with the wrong things in life?

"Soon after Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, he decided that a shipping company wasn’t delivering spare parts fast enough. The shipper said it couldn’t do better, and it didn’t have to: Apple had signed a contract granting it the business at the current pace. As Walter Isaacson describes in his best-selling biography, Steve Jobs, the recently recrowned chief executive had a simple response: Break the contract. When an Apple manager warned him that this decision would probably mean a lawsuit, Jobs responded, 'Just tell them if they fuck with us, they’ll never get another fucking dime from this company, ever.'

"The shipper did sue. The manager quit Apple. (Jobs 'would have fired me anyway,; he later told Isaacson.) The legal imbroglio took a year and presumably a significant amount of money to resolve. But meanwhile, Apple hired a new shipper that met the expectations of the company’s uncompromising CEO.

"What lesson should we draw from this anecdote? After all, we turn to the lives of successful people for inspiration and instruction. But the lesson here might make us uncomfortable: Violate any norm of social or business interaction that stands between you and what you want."
AUTHOR:Ben Austen
PUBLISHED: July 23, 2012
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4710 words)

How Tim Cook is Changing Apple

Nearly one year after taking over for Steve Jobs, a report card for the new CEO. The company has never been more efficient, or fun, but some are wondering about the future of the products:

"The ultimate 'tell' of tectonic changes at Apple will be the quality of its products. Those looking for deficiencies have found them in Siri, a less-than-perfect product that Apple released with the rare beta label in late 2011, a signal that the service shouldn't be viewed as fully baked. Siri's response time has been slow, meaning the servers and software powering it are inadequate. 'People are embarrassed by Siri,' says one former insider. 'Steve would have lost his mind over Siri.'

"Obviously, no one can say for sure how Steve Jobs would have reacted to anything that's going on at Apple, and Cook seems increasingly comfortable leading the company where he thinks it should be going. Jobs was opposed to dividends and stock buybacks, for example. Yet Cook repeatedly prepared investors for a coming dividend by stating publicly that he had no 'religious' opinion about them. Apple announced on March 19 that it would begin paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share and buy back $10 billion worth of stock."
PUBLISHED: May 24, 2012
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2939 words)

Apple's War on Android

Steve Jobs pledged to go "thermonuclear" in Apple's battle against Google's Android and device manufacturers like Samsung who he claimed ripped off the iPhone and iPad designs. But bringing a patent fight to court comes with significant risks:

"Several Asian manufacturers were noodling around with similar-looking rectangular smartphones before the iPhone came to market. Tipping its hat to a fellow Korean manufacturer, Samsung notes that in 2006, nearly a year before the iPhone appeared, LG Electronics (066570) announced the round-cornered LG Chocolate, with 'virtually all of the [design] features Apple claims' to have patented. In December 2006, before Apple released images of the iPhone, Samsung itself filed a design patent in Korea for a similar rectangular phone called the F700. Smartphone and tablet-computer design was 'naturally evolving' in the direction Apple claims it has exclusive rights to use, according to Samsung. If true, that matters because basic patent law states that if an idea is 'obvious' to an 'ordinary observer' at the time of its invention, it doesn’t deserve patent protection. By attacking Samsung, Apple has inadvertently put its own patents into play."
PUBLISHED: March 29, 2012
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4578 words)

The Book of Jobs

A review of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs, and a different perspective on the dark side of Steve:

"Sometimes the repetition serves a purpose: The drug LSD, referred to 33 times, is clearly important to Jobs. (The FBI thought the same, according to documents released this month.) 'How many of you have taken LSD?' Jobs taunts an audience of Stanford business school students. 'Are you a virgin? How many times have you taken LSD?' he demands of an Apple interviewee. Bill Gates would 'be a broader guy if he had dropped acid.' Tripping was 'one of the two or three most important things he’d done in his life.' People who had never dropped acid 'would never fully understand him.' The generations that followed his own were more 'materialistic' and less 'idealistic' for not having tripped; also, they all looked like 'virgins.' In the binary world within Steve’s reality, having consumed LSD was the key determinant of whether a colleague or employee was deemed 'enlightened' or 'an asshole.'

"To iSummarize: Steve Jobs had a litmus test for evaluating workers: It was a lot like a literal litmus test."
AUTHOR:Moe Tkacik
PUBLISHED: Feb. 22, 2012
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3705 words)

The Tweaker

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.”
PUBLISHED: Nov. 14, 2011
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2986 words)

A Sister's Eulogy for Steve Jobs

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people. Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 30, 2011
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2383 words)