iCon: Steve Jobs – The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business

The story of Apple Computers Inc. (now Apple Inc.) is one that has a lesson for everyone. This book talks about Steve Paul Jobs, the iCEO of Apple Inc and how Steve Wozniak and he founded a computer company in 1976. It tells the story of a young enthusiastic team who started a revolution that stands in competition to the big fish in the ocean full of technological companies.


This book is unlike any other book written about Steve Jobs. For one, it is not written by Steve Jobs. Jeffery S. Young and William L Simon wrote this book. John Wiley & Sons published it on 2005.


Born in 1955, Steve Jobs was adopted by Paul and Clara. He went to Cupertino Junior High and enrolled in Reed College in 1972. He was a Physics major but dropped out from college after the first semester. He still attended classes about a subject that was interest to him, Calligraphy. Calligraphy is the art of producing decorative handwriting or lettering with a pen or brush. It was because of his learning from this class that the Macintosh OS, which Steve Jobs introduced in 1996, has multiple typefaces.


Steve Jobs was an employee at Atari, when he and Steve Wozniak decided to build a computer company. He left his job at Atari at the age of 21. Wozniak was 26. Jobs got the funding for Apple Computers Inc. from multimillionaire A.C. “Mike” Markkula, a funding of $250,000.


Apple-I went on sale in July 1976 for $666.66. Less than a year later, Apple introduced it’s next line of computers, the Apple-II (often written as Apple ][ ), the first Apple computer with color graphics. It was the first successful personal computer and largely responsible for providing Apple Inc. with a launch-pad that would make Apple Inc a flourishing business.


The book also talks about the origins of the Macintosh OS. It wasn’t until Steve Jobs was pushed from the Lisa project (that Jobs was working on since 1978), to the cost efficient new operating system, the Macintosh. In 1984, Apple launched the new operating system Macintosh. The launch of the Macintosh was legendary because of its super bowl commercial in 1984 that cost $1.5 million. It was truly a masterpiece and set the standard for what Apple does till date.


A turning point in Apple, as Young and Simon describe it, was the point when Jobs hired, then Pepsi executive, John Scully as the CEO of Apple in 1983. Jobs asked Scully a question that made Scully part ways from Pepsi-Cola and join a relatively new computer company. His question to Scully was “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world”. Scully joined Apple thereafter.


In 1985, much to his disbelief, Steve Jobs was removed from the chairmanship of the board. To many, being fired from a company that you started is something unimaginable. The authors have written about how Jobs transformed his disbelief and anger into motivation to create a new company called NeXT, which would be the core of the revolutionary operating system by Apple, Macintosh OS X. This book also sites examples, such as when Jobs wanted to acquire the animation company Pixar from George Lucas for $10 million. The price put down by Lucas for Pixar was $30 million, but Steve Jobs’s entrepreneur skills helped him buy Pixar at a good price. After the success of Pixar and the work in NeXt, Apple Computers acquired NextStep in 1996 for $429 million and with it, came Steve Jobs. He soon became Apple’s interim CEO as he was also the CEO of Pixar. In January 2000, he dropped the “interimfrom the name and became the iCEO of Apple Computers Inc.


The authors of the book have described the rise and fall of the CEO of Apple in a very ingenuous way of writing. Knowing the “hot tempered” personality of Steve Jobs, the authors have written about the positive aspects of it.


The title of the book, iCon, seems chimerically relevant. Not only does it follow the “iX” phenomenon by Apple, but also because in 2000, Steve Jobs announced that he is the iCEO of Apple Computers during the MacWorld conference that year.


Young and Simon have discussed enormously about the beginning of Apple and not much about the work Steve Jobs did when he was fired in 1985, from the company he founded. This is important because many people are not aware of the start of Pixar and NeXT Step as compared to Apple Computers.


Although the language used is fantastically straightforward, some of the chapters that talk about the “Rise Again” of Steve Jobs are not comprehensive enough. In any case, this book is a great read for those who wish to know about the rise and fall and rise again of an intellectual entrepreneur who thrives for excellence, this one is for you.


Sohrab Pawar



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