Steve Jobs’ sudden resignation is a shock, but might be the perfect point to take a second and look at the good, bad and as he might put it, “insanely great” parts of his life so far.
Foreword (It’s long. You can skip this if you want.)
The timeline itself is made from a half dozen books, which I’ve listed below, and several websites. I’m sure there are some errors and missing parts, because the books often contradict each other. Also, I consider this timeline/biography to be in Alpha, so let me know if there’s a mistake and send me a good piece of source material and I’ll make corrections. Also, images are very welcome. Here’s the bio in a single page.
When Bill Gates went into retirement, we threw him a week-long celebration and wished him well on his journey through philanthropy at his foundation. The comings and goings of Steve Jobs have been less ceremonious. He’s been sick and Apple’s tried to down play that and his importance to the company so the company, his life’s work, can go on after he retires. And having to do it without much fanfare so the company doesn’t seem too reliant on him. Look: Last Monday the first press release came out in months with a Steve quote in it, and he was seen on campus. But no one at Cupertino is making a big deal of it. Here’s the thing: None of us really want to believe that he’s not important. It’s total bullshit to think that, if you look at his life and where his work fits in history. I mean, this is the co-founder of Apple getting sick, and slowly leaving behind his 30 year legacy in computing to the next generation. That deserves more respect, as it did in the case of Gates stepping down. Not many news pieces were written in this context.
As I was doing some background reporting, digging up pieces I hoped would give stronger context to the current events, I realized there wasn’t a good reference
for all the little stories collected from the Valley and beyond about Steve Jobs’ life. The best information comes from books and quotes in magazine articles here and there, not the web. And so, it was hard to find a frame of reference online that would give better context to all that was happening today.
So I started collecting a lot of it here, and found it enjoyable to document this notable life, rather than tear it down one hospital or liver transplant rumor at a time. In some ways, it dissolved away some of the guilt I felt about writing about tracking someone’s health as if it were merely a piece of news. And so I kept going, until it was a somewhat presentable record of what we know about Jobs. From what I’ve seen, it’s the most complete online.
Before we go, I’d like to eschew the custom of linking to sources at the end and place them here because all these books are pretty amazing and worth checking out if you have the inclination. The three notables are Owen Linzmayer’s Apple Confidential 2.0 which has exactly levels of detail in regard to dates, times, etc, although less on Jobs personal life. And VC and former Time Valley reporter Michael Moritz’s out of print The Little Kingdom, which is out of print and I paid handsomely for on ebay. Lastly, Andy Hertzfeld, one of the creators of the Mac, created Revolution in the Valley (also available in website form at folklore. org), a telling of maybe 100 personal anecdotes from the development of the Mac. It will make you think you were there. I’m not done with the pile below, but I’ll keep updating this timeline as more bits come up.