A couple weeks ago while on the flight back from Savannah I borrowed the current number one best seller, Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson from my niece Amy and finished it last night. While reading the book I would often think back to the huge bulky desktop computers we had at work in the early eighties compared to today’s sleeker more user friendly versions.
Early on Steve met up with electronics geek and future Apple partner Steve Wozniak (Woz). While working at Atari Steve’s boss gave him the assignment of developing a single player version of pong where instead of competing against an opponent the player would volley the ball into a brick wall that would lose a brick when hit.
Steve’s boss said there would be a bonus if less than fifty chips were used in the process so Steve recruited his friend Woz to develop the game with the fewest number of chips possible. Woz used less than fifty chips and Steve received the bonus but never shared it with Woz. This incident seemed to set a precedent for Steve’s future business dealings and from that time forward he would do whatever needed to be done to be successful often taking others ideas and saying they were his own.
With Steve there was no middle ground, either things were great or they were crap. If he said something was crap it would hopefully motivate his employees to try to find a better way to do things, if not he would get rid of them. People who worked for him were either Gods or Shitheads, he wouldn’t tolerate any less than the best working for him.
Words that come to mind to describe his management style were obnoxious, controlling, manipulative, ruthless and driven. His overbearing style led to many troubled relationships with friends and competitors and of course led to his ouster from Apple for a period of time.
The book is approximately 600 pages and it goes into a lot of detail, but I really enjoyed reading it and I am interested to see if Amy likes it as much as I did.