I found it fascinating that these two men, both ‘Rock Stars’ in their time, were so different yet have so much in common. In the last 100 years Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs impacted the world like few others.
This past week I finished reading Walter Isaacson’s outstanding 2007 biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe. I picked it up because two years ago I had read Isaacson’s brilliant 2011 biography, Steve Jobs. Both are excellent and well worth the time it takes to read these hefty (550-650 page) books.
Einstein and Jobs – though their accomplishments provided for opportunities to live very well, they chose to live simply. Each freely said what was on their mind. Both were nonconformists, a strength that produced thinking outside the box, leading to their great accomplishments. And both were in many ways deficient in social relationships with others.
Einstein’s mind and curiosity led him to envision and understand the universe like none before him. I found Isaacson’s biography fascinating although there were several times where he lost me when he got a little too detailed discussing the fabric of spacetime, Quantum Mechanics and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. There were parts that I just had to slog through, but I’m glad I did. Some of the science sunk in, but much of it did not.
Isaacson states on Einstein’s first trip to America, the man who arranged the trip and accompanied him on the boat declared, “During the crossing, Einstein explained his theory to me every day, and by the time we arrived I was fully convinced that he really understands it.”
Nevertheless, most of the book painted a picture of not only a brilliant man, as Isaacson shares, “colleagues, they saw his kindly side. He was gentle and generous…He had deep friendships lasting for decades…he was not only respected and revered by his colleagues, he was loved.”
Steve Jobs is more a man of my time and life experience. For most of us in today’s society, his genius has touched our lives personally. Reading his biography was an immense pleasure from start to finish.
Here are the four areas where he has changed our lives:
Computers – Jobs changed personal computing by pushing for a user friendly interface with graphics and a mouse. If you are old enough to remember the computers before the Mac, you know the drastic change this brought to computing.
Music – With the iPod and iTunes, Jobs changed the way the world gets and listens to music.
Phones – Bringing beauty and simplicity, Jobs not only changed our phones but pushed personal computing to be completely mobile.
Animation – Jobs bought Pixar and allowed John Lasseter to change the face of animation forever. Jobs wasn’t in any way the creative force behind Pixar but he saved the company and made Toy Story and the many amazing animated films to follow possible. (For a truly wonderful book to follow up on this subject, check out The Pixar Touch by David A. Price)
Steve Jobs didn’t create any of these products or industries, but his stubbornness and drive for excellence pretty much forced all these products/industries on us and the world is forever changed because of him.
To his credit, Jobs allowed this ‘official’ biography to be produced with full access to him and those surrounding him, giving a sweeping understanding of the man’s genius as well as his flawed personality.
Einstein’s genius, his life and the changes in many areas of his thinking are fascinating to read. And the story of Steve Jobs, his genius for understanding and changing our lives is mesmerizing.
One last interesting note – Steve Jobs was born February 24, 1955. Less than two months later Einstein died on April 18. Their lives barely overlapped and yet, in my opinion, they are joined by their genius and the impact their lives have had on the world.
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein