In late 1972, there was a fundamental shift happening in American campus life. The nation’s involvement in the Vietnam War, and the draft that accompanied it, was winding down. Political activism at colleges receded and in many late-night dorm conversations was replaced by an interest in pathways to personal fulfillment. Jobs found himself deeply influenced by a variety of books on spirituality and enlightenment, most notably Be Here Now, a guide to meditation and the wonders of psychedelic drugs by Baba Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert. “It was profound,” Jobs said. “It transformed me and many of my friends.” The closest of those friends wasRead More →

Friedland found Jobs fascinating as well. “He was always walking around barefoot,” he later told a reporter. “The thing that struck me was his intensity. Whatever he was interested in he would generally carry to an irrational extreme.” Jobs had honed his trick of using stares and silences to master other people. “One of his numbers was to stare at the person he was talking to. He would stare into their fucking eyeballs, ask some question, and would want a response without the other person averting their eyes.” According to Kottke, some of Jobs’s personality traits—including a few that lasted throughout his career—were borrowed fromRead More →

Jobs’s engagement with Eastern spirituality, and especially Zen Buddhism, was not just some passing fancy or youthful dabbling. He embraced it with his typical intensity, and it became deeply ingrained in his personality. “Steve is very much Zen,” said Kottke. “It was a deep influence. You see it in his whole approach of stark, minimalist aesthetics, intense focus.” Jobs also became deeply influenced by the emphasis that Buddhism places on intuition. “I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis,” he later said. His intensity, however, made it difficult for him to achieve innerRead More →

On Sunday evenings Jobs and Friedland would go to the Hare Krishna temple on the western edge of Portland, often with Kottke and Holmes in tow. They would dance and sing songs at the top of their lungs. “We would work ourselves into an ecstatic frenzy,” Holmes recalled. “Robert would go insane and dance like crazy. Steve was more subdued, as if he was embarrassed to let loose.” Then they would be treated to paper plates piled high with vegetarian food. Friedland had stewardship of a 220-acre apple farm, about forty miles southwest of Portland, that was owned by an eccentric millionaire uncle from SwitzerlandRead More →

Many years later, after Friedland had become a billionaire copper and gold mining executive—working out of Vancouver, Singapore, and Mongolia—I met him for drinks in New York. That evening I emailed Jobs and mentioned my encounter. He telephoned me from California within an hour and warned me against listening to Friedland. He said that when Friedland was in trouble because of environmental abuses committed by some of his mines, he had tried to contact Jobs to intervene with Bill Clinton, but Jobs had not responded. “Robert always portrayed himself as a spiritual person, but he crossed the line from being charismatic to being a conRead More →

He didn’t actually want to leave Reed; he just wanted to quit paying tuition and taking classes that didn’t interest him. Remarkably, Reed tolerated that. “He had a very inquiring mind that was enormously attractive,” said the dean of students, Jack Dudman. “He refused to accept automatically received truths, and he wanted to examine everything himself.” Dudman allowed Jobs to audit classes and stay with friends in the dorms even after he stopped paying tuition. “The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting,” he said. Among themRead More →

Machines of Loving GraceIn San Francisco and the Santa Clara Valley during the late 1960s, various cultural currents flowed together. There was the technology revolution that began with the growth of military contractors and soon included electronics firms, microchip makers, video game designers, and computer companies. There was a hacker subculture—filled with wireheads, phreakers, cyberpunks, hobbyists, and just plain geeks—that included engineers who didn’t conform to the HP mold and their kids who weren’t attuned to the wavelengths of the subdivisions. There were quasi-academic groups doing studies on the effects of LSD; participants included Doug Engelbart of the Augmentation Research Center in Palo Alto, whoRead More →

years later revised his famous mBy far the most important example of this involved the choice of a disk drive for the Macintosh. Apple had a corporate division that built mass-storage devices, and it had developed a disk-drive system, code-named Twiggy, that could read and write onto those thin, delicate 5?-inch floppy disks that older readers (who also remember Twiggy the model) will recall. But by the time the Lisa was ready to ship in the spring of 1983, it was clear that the Twiggy was buggy. Because the Lisa also came with a hard-disk drive, this was not a complete disaster. But the MacRead More →

working prototype, just a crude model. Jobs thought it was great, but Belleville was appalled. There was no way, he thought, that Alps could have it ready for the Mac within a year. The final stop was the Sony factory, located in a drab suburb of Tokyo. To Jobs, it looked messy and inelegant. A lot of the work was done by hand. He hated it. Back at the hotel, Belleville argued for going with the Sony disk drive. It was ready to use. Jobs disagreed. He decided that they would work with Alps to produce their own drive, and he ordered Belleville to ceaseRead More →

Veterans of the Mac team had learned that they could stand up to Jobs. If they knew what they were talking about, he would tolerate the pushback, even admire it. By 1983 those most familiar with his reality distortion field had discovered something further: They could, if necessary, just quietly disregard what he decreed. If they turned out to be right, he would appreciate their renegade attitude and willingness to ignore authority. After all, that’s what he did. cultural mix that the catalog sought to celebrate. “Steve is right at the nexus of the counterculture and technology,” he said. “He got the notion of toolsRead More →