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.”
Apple was already one of the hottest tech firms in the country. Everyone in the Valley wanted a piece of it. So Steve Jobs proposed a deal: he would allow Xerox to buy a hundred thousand shares of his company for a million dollars—its highly anticipated I.P.O. was just a year away—if parc would “open its kimono.” A lot of haggling ensued. Jobs was the fox, after all, and parc was the henhouse. What would he be allowed to see? What wouldn’t he be allowed to see? Some at parc thought that the whole idea was lunacy, but, in the end, Xerox went ahead with it. One parc scientist recalls Jobs as “rambunctious”—a fresh-cheeked, caffeinated version of today’s austere digital emperor. He was given a couple of tours, and he ended up standing in front of a Xerox Alto, parc’s prized personal computer.
In February of 2009, Steven Rattner was selected by the Obama Administration to oversee the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. It was not a popular choice. Rattner was a Wall Street financier with no expertise in the automobile business. But, as Rattner makes clear in “Overhaul,” his account of the experience, the critics misunderstood his role.
Why the revolution will not be tweeted.
It was a dazzling feat of wartime espionage. But does it argue for or against spying?
How different are dogfighting and football?
Atticus Finch and the limits of Southern liberalism.
Banks, battles, and the psychology of overconfidence.