More details are emerging about the life of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs from Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography. Here are five more revelations from the book, which weighs in at over 630 pages.
1) The Apple TV: Jobs had plans to reform the broadcast industry in the same he upended the world of music and publishing. Jobs told the author, “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use.” Isaacson went on: “‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’”
2) Ties to Bill Clinton: There’s already been a lot of news about Jobs’s ties with the Obama administration, but Jobs was also on the figurative speed dial of former President Bill Clinton.
According to Isaacson, Jobs and his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, used to let the Clintons stay at their home in Woodside, Calif., when they visited their daughter, Chelsea, at Stanford University. Once, Powell Jobs noticed that one of the paintings in the home had been removed ahead of a visit. When she asked the Secret Service about the missing painting, she was told that the art had been removed because it showed a dress on a hanger. “Given the issue of the blue dress in the Lewinsky matter, they had decided to hide it,” Isaacson wrote.
In a late-night phone call with Clinton, the president reportedly asked Jobs how he should deal with the “Lewinsky issue.”
“I don’t know if you did it, but if so, you’ve got to tell the country,” Jobs said. Silence greeted him on the other end of the line.
3) Jobs unknowingly met his biological father: Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, Jobs’s biological father, told the Wall Street Journal after Jobs’s death that the two men never reunited, but the book does reveal that the men unknowingly met while Jandali was running a Silicon Valley restaurant. Jobs later found out that Jandali was his biological father through his sister, Mona Simpson. Simpson, who had occasional contact with her estranged father, said Jandali once told her that Jobs ate at the restaurant — not knowing that Jobs was his biological son.
Jobs was surprised when he learned of Jandali’s identity after the fact, but told Simpson that he didn’t want to reunite with Jandali.
4) Shunned Christianity at a young age: Jobs gave up Christianity at the age of 13, the book reveals, after seeing starving children on the cover of Life magazine when he was 13 years old. After asking his pastor if God knew about those children, Jobs never went back to church. He studied Zen Buddhism later in life.
5) His legacy at Apple: Jobs made sure that Jony Ive, Apple’s chief designer, would still have more power than anyone else at the company after his death. Jobs told Isaacson that Ive has more “operation power” than anyone else at Apple, and that Jobs set it up to stay that way. He called Ive his “spiritual partner.”
Despite solidifying Ive’s place at the company, Jobs told the team at Apple that they shouldn’t trip themselves up asking what he, Jobs, would have wanted them to do. In an interview with All Things Digital’s Walt Mossberg, Apple board member and former Vice President Al Gore said that Jobs had learned from his work with Disney that companies stall when they get caught up in those hypotheticals.