This is all I will give you from the recent book "Steve Jobs." You can read the rest of the story of 500 pages or so, about Jobs and the famous Apple producs, for yourself.
THE LIFE OF STEVE JOBS
by Walter Isaacson
THE REALITY DISTORTION FIELD
Playing by His Own Set of Rules
The original Mac team in 1984: George Crow, Joanna Hoffman,
Burrell Smith, Andy Hertzfeld, Bill Atkinson, and Jerry Manock
When Andy Hertzfeld joined the Macintosh team, he got a briefing
from Bud Tribble, the other software designer, about the huge
amount of work that still needed to be done. Jobs wanted it
finished by January 1982, less than a year away. "That's crazy,"
Hertzfeld said. "There's no way." Tribble said that Jobs would
not accept any contrary facts. "The best way to describe the
situation is a term from Star Trek," Tribble explained. "Steve
has a reality distortion field." When Hertzfeld looked puzzled,
Tribble elaborated. "In his presence, reality is malleable. He
can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when
he's not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic
Tribble recalled that he adopted the phrase from the "Menagerie"
episodes oú Star Trek, "in which the aliens create their own new
world through sheer mental force." He meant the phrase to be a
compliment as well as a caution: "It was dangerous to get caught
in Steve's distortion field, but it was what led him to actually
be able to change reality."
At first Hertzfeld thought that Tribble was exaggerating, but
after two weeks of working with Jobs, he became a keen observer
of the phenomenon. "The reality distortion field was a
confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style,
indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the
purpose at hand," he said.
There was little that could shield you from the force, Hertzfeld
discovered. "Amazingly, the reality distortion field seemed to be
effective even if you were acutely aware of it. We would often
discuss potential techniques for grounding it, but after a while
most of us gave up, accepting it as a force of nature." After
Jobs decreed that the sodas in the office refrigerator be
replaced by Odwalla organic orange and carrot juices, someone on
the team had T-shirts made. "Reality Distortion Field," they said
on the front, and on the back, "It's in the juice!"
To some people, calling it a reality distortion field was just a
clever way to say that Jobs tended to lie. But it was in fact a
more complex form of dissembling. He would assert something-be it
a fact about world history or a recounting of who suggested an
idea at a meetingwithout even considering the truth. It came from
willfully defying reality, not only to others but to himself. "He
can deceive himself," said Bill Atkinson, "It allowed him to con
people into believing his vision, because he has personally
embraced and internalized it."
A lot of people distort reality, of course. When Jobs did so, it
was often a tactic for accomplishing something. Wozniak, who was
as congenitally honest as Jobs was tactical, marveled at how
effective it could be. "His reality distortion is when he has an
illogical vision of the future, such as telling me that I could
design the Breakout game in just a few days. You realize that it
can't be true, but he somehow makes it true."
When members of the Mac team got ensnared in his reality distor-
tion field, they were almost hypnotized. "He reminded me of
Rasputin," said Debi Coleman. "He laser-beamed in on you and
didn't blink. It didn't matter if he was serving purple Kool-Aid.
You drank it." But like Wozniak, she believed that the reality
distortion field was empowering: It enabled Jobs to inspire his
team to change the course of computer history with a fraction of
the resources of Xerox or IBM. "It was a self-fulfilling
distortion," she claimed. "You did the impossible, because you
didn't realize it was impossible."
At the root of the reality distortion was Jobs's belief that the
rules didn't apply to him. He had some evidence for this; in his
childhood, he had often been able to bend reality to his desires.
Rebelliousness and willfulness were ingrained in his character.
He had the sense that he was special, a chosen one, an
enlightened one. "He thinks there are a few people who are
special-people like Einstein and Gandhi and the gurus he met in
India-and he's one of them," said Hertzfeld. "He told Chrisann
this. Once he even hinted to me that he was enlightened. It's
almost like Nietzsche." Jobs never studied Nietzsche, but the
philosopher's concept of the will to power and the special nature
of the Uberman came naturally to him. As Nietzsche wrote in Thus
Spoke Zarathustra, "The spirit now wills his own will, and he who
had been lost to the world now conquers the world." If reality
did not comport with his will, he would ignore it, as he had done
with the birth of his daughter and would do years later, when
first diagnosed with cancer. Even in small everyday rebellions,
such as not putting a license plate on his car and parking it in
handicapped spaces, he acted as if he were not subject to the
strictures around him.
Another key aspect of Jobs's worldview was his binary way of
categorizing things. People were either "enlightened" or "an
asshole." Their work was either "the best" or "totally shitty."
Bill Atkinson, the Mac designer who fell on the good side of
these dichotomies, described what it was like:
"It was difficult working under Steve, because there was a great
polarity between gods and shitheads. If you were a god, you were
up on a pedestal and could do no wrong. Those of us who were
considered to be gods, as I was, knew that we were actually
mortal and made bad engineering decisions and farted like any
person, so we were always afraid that we would get knocked off
our pedestal. The ones who were shitheads, who were brilliant
engineers working very hard, felt there was no way they could get
appreciated and rise above their status."
But these categories were not immutable, for Jobs could rapidly
reverse himself. When briefing Hertzfeld about the reality
distortion field, Tribble specifically warned him about Jobs's
tendency to resemble high-voltage alternating current. "Just
because he tells you that something is awful or great, it doesn't
necessarily mean he'll feel that way tomorrow," Tribble
explained. "If you tell him a new idea, he'll usually tell you
that he thinks it's stupid. But then, if he actually likes it,
exactly one week later, he'll come back to you and propose your
idea to you, as if he thought of it."
The audacity of this pirouette technique would have dazzled
Diaghilev. "If one line of argument failed to persuade, he would
deftly switch to another," Hertzfeld said. "Sometimes, he would
throw you off balance by suddenly adopting your position as his
own, without acknowledging that he ever thought differently."
That happened repeatedly to Bruce Horn, the programmer who, with
Tesler, had been lured from Xerox PARC. "One week I'd tell him
about an idea that I had, and he would say it was crazy,"
recalled Horn. "The next week, he'd come and say, `Hey I have
this great idea'-and it would be my idea! You'd call him on it
and say, `Steve, I told you that a week ago,' and he'd say,
`Yeah, yeah, yeah' and just move right along."
It was as if Jobs's brain circuits were missing a device that
would modulate the extreme spikes of impulsive opinions that
popped into his mind. So in dealing with him, the Mac team
adopted an audio concept called a "low pass filter." In
processing his input, they learned to reduce the amplitude of his
high-frequency signals. That served to smooth out the data set
and provide a less jittery moving average of his evolving
attitudes. "After a few cycles of him taking alternating extreme
positions," said Hertzfeld, "we would learn to low pass filter
his signals and not react to the extremes."
Was Jobs's unfiltered behavior caused by a lack of emotional
sensitivity? No. Almost the opposite. He was very emotionally
attuned, able to read people and know their psychological
strengths and vulnerabilities. He could stun an unsuspecting
victim with an emotional towel-snap, perfectly aimed. He
intuitively knew when someone was faking it or truly knew
something. This made him masterful at cajoling, stroking,
persuading, flattering, and intimidating people. "He had the
uncanny capacity to know exactly what your weak point is, know
what will make you feel small, to make you cringe," Joanna
Hoffman said. "It's a common trait in people who are charismatic
and know how to manipulate people. Knowing that he can crush you
makes you feel weakened and eager for his approval, so then he
can elevate you and put you on a pedestal and own you."
Ann Bowers became an expert at dealing with Jobs's perfectionism,
petulance, and prickliness. She had been the human resources
director at Intel, but had stepped aside after she married its
cofounder Bob Noyce. She joined Apple in 1980 and served as a
calming mother figure who would step in after one of Jobs's
tantrums. She would go to his office, shut the door, and gently
lecture him. "I know, I know," he would say. "Well, then, please
stop doing it," she would insist. Bowers recalled, "He would be
good for a while, and then a week or so later I would get a call
again." She realized that he could barely contain himself. "He
had these huge expectations, and if people didn't deliver, he
couldn't stand it. He couldn't control himself. I could
understand why Steve would get upset, and he was usually right,
but it had a hurtful effect. It created a fear factor. He was
self-aware, but that didn't always modify his behavior."
Jobs became close to Bowers and her husband, and he would drop in
at their Los Gatos Hills home unannounced. She would hear his
motorcycle in the distance and say, "I guess we have Steve for
dinner again." For a while she and Noyce were like a surrogate
family. "He was so bright and also so needy. He needed a
grown-up, a father figure, which Bob became, and I became like a
There were some upsides to Jobs's demanding and wounding
behavior. People who were not crushed ended up being stronger.
They did better work, out of both fear and an eagerness to
please. "His behavior can be emotionally draining, but if you
survive, it works," Hoffman said. You could also push back -
sometimes - and not only survive but thrive. That didn't always
work; Raskin tried it, succeeded for a while, and then was
destroyed. But if you were calmly confident, if Jobs sized you up
and decided that you knew what you were doing, he would respect
you. In both his personal and his professional life over the
years, his inner circle tended to include many more strong people
The Mac team knew that. Every year, beginning in 1981, it gave
out an award to the person who did the best job of standing up to
him. The award was partly a joke, but also partly real, and Jobs
knew about it and liked it. Joanna Hoffman won the first year.
From an Eastern European refugee family, she had a strong temper
and will. One day, for example, she discovered that Jobs had
changed her marketing projections in a way she found totally
reality-distorting. Furious, she marched to his office. "As I'm
climbing the stairs, I told his assistant I am going to take a
knife and stab it into his heart," she recounted. Al Eisenstat,
the corporate counsel, came running out to restrain her. "But
Steve heard me out and backed down."
Hoffman won the award again in 1982. "I remember being envious of
Joanna, because she would stand up to Steve and I didn't have the
nerve yet," said Debi Coleman, who joined the Mac team that year.
"Then, in 1983, I got the award. I had learned you had to stand
up for what you believe, which Steve respected. I started getting
promoted by him after that." Eventually she rose to become head
One day jobs barged into the cubicle of one of Atkinson's
engineers and uttered his usual "This is shit." As Atkinson
recalled, "The guy said, 'No it's not, it's actually the best
way,' and he explained to Steve the engineering trade-offs he'd
made." Jobs backed down. Atkinson taught his team to put Jobs's
words through a translator. "We learned to interpret `This is
shit' to actually be a question that means, 'Tell me why this is
the best way to do it.'" But the story had a coda, which Atkinson
also found instructive. Eventually the engineer found an even
better way to perform the function that Jobs had criticized. "He
did it better because Steve had challenged him," said Atkinson,
"which shows you can push back on him but should also listen, for
he's usually right."
Jobs's prickly behavior was partly driven by his perfectionism
and his impatience with those who made compromises in order to
get a product out on time and on budget. "He could not make
trade-offs well," said Atkinson. "If someone didn't care to make
their product perfect, they were a bozo." At the West Coast
Computer Faire in April 1981, for example, Adam Osborne released
the first truly portable personal computer. It was not great-it
had a five-inch screen and not much memory-but it worked well
enough. As Osborne famously declared, "Adequacy is sufficient.
All else is superfluous." Jobs found that approach to be morally
appalling, and he spent days making fun of Osborne. "This guy
just doesn't get it," Jobs repeatedly railed as he wandered the
Apple corridors. "He's not making art, he's making shit."
One day jobs came into the cubicle of Larry Kenyon, an engineer
who was working on the Macintosh operating system, and complained
that it was taking too long to boot up. Kenyon started to
explain, but Jobs cut him off. "If it could save a person's life,
would you find a way to shave ten seconds off the boot time?" he
asked. Kenyon allowed that he probably could. Jobs went to a
whiteboard and showed that if there were five million people
using the Mac, and it took ten seconds extra to turn it on every
day, that added up to three hundred million or so hours per year
that people would save, which was the equivalent of at least one
hundred lifetimes saved per year. "Larry was suitably impressed,
and a few weeks later he came back and it booted up twenty-eight
seconds faster," Atkinson recalled. "Steve had a way of
motivating by looking at the bigger picture."
The result was that the Macintosh team came to share Jobs's
passion for making a great product, not just a profitable one.
"Jobs thought of himself as an artist, and he encouraged the
design team to think of ourselves that way too," said Hertzfeld.
"The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of
money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little
greater." He once took the team to see an exhibit of Tiffany
glass at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan because he believed
they could learn from Louis Tiffany's example of creating great
art that could be mass-produced. Recalled Bud Tribble, "We said
to ourselves, 'Hey, if we're going to make things in our lives,
we might as well make them beautiful.'"
Was all of his stormy and abusive behavior necessary? Probably
not, nor was it justified. There were other ways to have
motivated his team. Even though the Macintosh would turn out to
be great, it was way behind schedule and way over budget because
of Jobs's impetuous interventions. There was also a cost in
brutalized human feelings, which caused much of the team to burn
out. "Steve's contributions could have been made without so many
stories about him terrorizing folks," Wozniak said. "I like being
more patient and not having so many conflicts. I think a company
can be a good family. If the Macintosh project had been run my
way, things probably would have been a mess. But I think if it
had been a mix of both our styles, it would have been better than
just the way Steve did it."
But even though Jobs's style could be demoralizing, it could also
be oddly inspiring. It infused Apple employees with an abiding
passion to create groundbreaking products and a belief that they
could accomplish what seemed impossible. They had T-shirts made
that read "90 hours a week and loving it!" Out of a fear of Jobs
mixed with an incredibly strong urge to impress him, they
exceeded their own expectations. "I've learned over the years
that when you have really good people you don't have to baby
them," Jobs later explained. "By expecting them to do great
things, you can get them to do great things. The original Mac
team taught me that A-plus players like to work together, and
they don't like it if you tolerate B work. Ask any member of that
Mac team. They will tell you it was worth the pain."
Most of them agree. "He would shout at a meeting, 'You asshole,
you never do anything right,'" Debi Coleman recalled. "It was
like an hourly occurrence. Yet I consider myself the absolute
luckiest person in the world to have worked with him."
YOU HAVE SEEN THE EARLY LIFE OF STEVE JOBS AND HOW THE
APPLE COMPUTER GOT GOING. YOU HAVE SEEN THE MEN AND
WOMEN THAT HE WAS FORTUNATE TO FIND AND TEAM UP WITH
HIM - PEOPLE THAT WERE BRILLIANT IN THEIR SKILL.
YOU HAVE SEEN THE RATHER "STRANGE" AND "ODD" AND
"DIFFICULT" STEVE JOBS IN HIS YOUTH (AS TIME WENT ON I
THINK HE MELLOWED OUT). I MUST SAY I PERSONALLY WOULD
NEVER HAVE GOTTEN ALONG WITH THE YOUNG STEVE JOBS, IN
FACT I WOULD HAVE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM. AND TO
PUT IT MORE BLUNTLY WOULD HAVE SAID HE NEEDED TO BE
KICKED BETWEEN THE LEGS WHERE IT HURTS.
BUT SO IT WAS WITH STEVE JOBS. HE WAS I SAY AGAIN
VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE MET AND TEAMED UP WITH BRILLIANT
COMPUTER MINDED PEOPLE, AND WITH THEM PRODUCE THE
MASTERFUL APPLE COMPUTER AND ALL THAT APPLE IS NOW