Publication date moved up for Steve Jobs biography by Aspen Institute's Isaacson

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenOctober 7, 2011
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Steve Jobs.

Now that Apple's visionary co-founder has left earth, this is the company he keeps.

Jobs is one of the most inspirational and impactful entrepreneurial spirits in American history.

He was a tech pioneer who helped usher in the era of personal computers in 1976 and stuck with it to revolutionize how media is experienced to this day. A college dropout, Jobs was among the most successful rebels of our time. Dead at 56, he commands the utmost respect from those with the stiffest of collars and from the protestors camped out on Wall Street who stopped booing CEOs to mourn the loss of the tech icon.

Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson knows Jobs better than most.
His book, titled “Steve Jobs,” from Simon & Schuster, was due to hit the shelves on Nov. 21 but it has now been moved up to Oct. 24.

In a short subscriber-only essay on this week, Isaacson wrote how he came to write the man's authorized biography:

"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," Isaacson wrote.

"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," Isaacson wrote.

Jobs knew he was dying.

Isaacson last interviewed Jobs about a month ago, just before, and right after, he resigned his post as CEO of Apple.

"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," Isaacson wrote. "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.'"

While we await the release of the biography, the world is mourning and celebrating Jobs' brilliance.

His commencement speech at Stanford in the summer of 2005 is the stuff of legend.

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish," Jobs said.

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