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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

As part of the Sneaky Peeky Sundays here with The Book Worm, here's a page from the biography of the late Steve Jobs...The book is called 'Steve Jobs' by author Walter Isaacson.

'...operator, hard-core electronics guy," Jobs recalled. "He would bring me stuff to play with." As we walked up to Lang's old house, Jobs pointed to the driveway. "He took a carbon microphone and a battery and a speaker, and he put it on this driveway. He had me talk into the carbon mike and it amplified out of the speaker." Jobs had been taught by his father that microphones always require an electronic amplifier. "So I raced home, and I told my dad that he was wrong."

"No, it needs an amplifier," his father assured him. When Steve protested otherwise, his father said he was crazy. "It can't work without an amplifier. There's some trick."

"I kept telling no to my dad, telling him he had to see it, and finally he actually walked down with me and saw it. And he said, "Well I'll be a bat out of hell."

Jobs recalled the incident vividly because it was his first realisation that his father did not know everything. Then a more disconcerting discovery began to dawn on him: He was smarter than his parents. He had always admired his father's competence and savvy. "He was not an educated man, but I had always thought he was pretty damn smart. He didn't read much, but he could do a lot. Almost everything mechanical, he could figure it out." Yet the carbon microphone incident, Jobs said, began a jarring process of realising that he was in fact more clever and quick than his parents. "It was a very big moment that's burned into my mind. When I realised that I was smarter than my parents, I felt tremendous shame for having thought that. I will never forget that moment." This discovery, he later told friends, along with the fact that he was adopted, made him feel apart - detached and separate - from both his family and the world.

Another layer of awareness occurred soon after. Not only did he discover that he was brighter than his parents, but he discovered that they knew this. Paul and Clara Jobs were loving parents, and they were willing to adapt their lives to suit a son who was very smart - and also willful. They would go to great lengths to accommodate him. And soon Steve discovered this fact as well. "Both my parents got me. They felt a lot of responsibility once they sensed that I was special. They found ways to keep feeding me stuff and putting me in better schools. They were willing to defer to my needs."

- Debolina Raja Gupta