Welcome to the Jungle: America After Vietnam
                                       AP US History 2007

John Wall

Author's Bio

Beginning his career reporting for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Jeffrey S. Young has worked for MacWorld, Forbes Magazine, and written numerous books and reports. One such report focused on Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, who provided evidence for the U.S. government in their trust-bust suit against Microsoft. Young is also a small time winemaker in northern California, where he lives with his wife Janey and his three children.

The Power of Personal Drive

     Jeffrey S. Young's biography of Steve Jobs explores one of American society's most successful and inspiring business figures. From Jobs's idiosyncrasies and strategies, to the sources of his inspiration, iCon: Steve Jobs-The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business utilizes interviews, essays, and the birth of computers to chronicle Jobs creation of Apple, NeXT, and Pixar, all the way up to his introduction of the iPod. "Humbled by failure...mellowed with age," and reinvigorated with his return to business, Jobs's story is truly inspiring. 1 The most interesting aspects of this biography explore the intricate business strategies and power plays between Disney's Michael Eisner and Pixar's Steve Jobs, and the motivation and extreme drive of Steve Jobs that allows him to survive in such a harsh business.
     The book begins with Jobs's childhood, with the first chapter appropriately labeled "Roots." Giving examples of Jobs's humble beginnings, Young chronicles his birth in the early 1950's and his adoption by Paul and Clara Jobs. Living in San Francisco, Jobs was "attracted by the practicality of electronic gadgets, using his youngster's imagination to see their nearly unlimited potential." 2 The family then moved to Palo Alto, the beginnings of Silicon Valley. "Steve's interest in electronics was patently obvious," as he could be seen walking and exploring his neighbors garages to stay in touch with the growing electronics movement. 3 Early trouble with authority led to Jobs's expulsion from his first elementary school. Moving to Los Altos, which is surrounded by Cupertino and Sunnyvale, an area "sown through with electrical engineers" and "an area of profusion of electronics companies," Jobs was back at home with his interest in computers. 4 It was in this new home that he met Steve Wozniak, the creator of the Apple I and II, and his first business partner. Entering Homestead High School in 1968, Jobs first became acquainted with Wozniak or "Woz," acknowledging that "Woz was 'the first person [Jobs] met who knew more electronics than" he did. 5Their first product, named the "blue box," was a device used to fool AT&T's long-distance switching equipment and allowed users to make calls all over the world, for free. After working briefly for Atari, Jobs went to India to realize what would be one of his life-long loves--the Zen way of life. When he returned to California, Jobs and "Woz" created their first real business, Apple, and designed their first computer, Apple I, and had small success. In late 1976 the new company was getting ready to premiere the Apple II. When it was released, it hit big, giving Apple its breakout in the business, which meant by 1979 over $7 million in private stock. Around this time, the Apple staff boomed to more than 1,000 members, and the company branched out into two sections--the LISA and Macintosh divisions, which would compete to produce the newest and most powerful computer on the market. However, Jobs's growing pride and ambition would prove to divide the company--between him and the rest of the employees.
     In the early 1980s, Jobs's lack in management brains began to hurt the company. Unfair salaries for competing employees, over-blown sales predictions, and arrogance tore the company apart. At this point in his life, Jobs was determined to run his company his way--a dictatorship, and constantly demanded respect and loyalty from his staff. He took credit for things the company accomplished that he hadn't even known about, and fired those who set him off the wrong way. By the spring of 1985, Jobs was removed from the company. He had suffered his first loss and humiliation in what seemed his life's work and goal. After being fully detached from the company, Jobs decided to reinvest and created a company called NeXT, which focused on educational science-based computers that would cater to the college markets. Funded by Ross Perot, a venture capitalist and nonconformist entrepreneur, the company began in 1985. Notoriously asked, "How much do you want?" 6 Jobs acquired millions from Perot and began advertising to giants IBM, Microsoft, and his old company, Apple. Again Jobs sacrificed quality for design, as his new computer was housed in a sleek black cube. Although NeXT was not as successful , it was during this time that Jobs created Pixar, originally a company focused on creating pixel image computers and selling to the medical community, "because of the need to store vast numbers of images."7 The company obtained major press coverage and an Oscar for their short film Tin Toy. It was time for Jobs to enter Hollywood. Given a deal for three films, all expenses paid, Pixar accepted and officially began their legendary association with Disney. Toy Story was decided to be the first feature film, and was determined to prevail. John Lasseter's extreme talent for computer animation, and Disney tradition and experience at his back, helped turn Toy Story into a huge blockbuster hit. NeXT also began negotiations with Apple, and after acquiring NeXT, they also rehired Jobs as CEO. By recreating public interest and regaining trust both inside and outside of the company, Jobs's hiring brought enthusiasm to the Apple faithful and potential buyers. The combination of his success with Pixar and his reemergence into the world of Apple satisfied Jobs's ambition while bringing him back to earth in terms of reality and his limits in both business and life. In November 1995, Pixar went public, making many of its members millionaires, Jobs in particular a billionaire. "Toy Story took in 350 million worldwide, and another 100 million in video rentals," bringing in the highest-grossing release of the year. 8 Although terms that negotiated the deal between Pixar and Disney had left Pixar on the short end of the deal, the film's success put Jobs into the position to cut a much fairer deal for the next two films agreed upon to be created by Pixar and produced by Disney. A box-office smash, Toy Story gave Jobs the upper hand in negotiations, which he used to obtain a cut in the profits earned from consumer items (toys, movie rentals and clothing, etc.), as well as sole creative control for the next films. He obtained 50% of the box office revenues, when most producers obtained only 15%. Jobs's ability to negotiate and push relentlessly is one of his strongest traits, which has allowed him to survive in the harsh reality of Hollywood and big business. A Bug's Life was released in 1998, more popular than Toy Story, and further established Pixar as a credible up-n-comer in the world of movies, and the leader in computer animation.
     In 2001, Monsters, Inc. was released, propelling Pixar into previously unseen glory. It earned three Oscar nominations, completely pushing Pixar into the spotlight a favorite of critics and the public alike. Pixar had sought out to replace Disney as the most successful animation studio. Instead, Pixar announced it's earnings at $2.5 billion, making it the most successful Hollywood studio of all time. Jobs had conquered movies and computers, and was determined to overcome one of his favorite industries and form of entertainment--music. Playing on the internet's success, Jobs explored at first PDAs, and then handheld MP3 players. Investing in SoundJam MP, researched MP3.com, Napster, and other music internet inventions, Jobs experienced an epiphany. Naming the program iTunes, a SoundJam like program freely to download music and songs to their portable MP3 players such as the popular Rio, a portable player by Rio Audio. With great industrial design and creativity, iTunes proved to be yet another success for Apple and paved the road for the iPod. Hiring a Santa Clara, California based company named Portal Player, Jobs invested in a on the new Apple MP3 device. The exquisite design--the circular scrolling device, the simplistic buttons and display--revolved around Jobs's enthusiasm for industrial design. This time around, however, the quality of the product was not marred by the design. Created in less than a year, the iPod fueled Jobs desire to make his mark on the music business. He gained support from artists such as Dr. Dre, Smash Mouth, and many other famous musicians. With a strong tie between iPod and iTunes, Jobs stated that "with iPod, listening to music will never be the same again." 9 In October 2001, Apple introduced its most successful product ever, the iPod, which has transformed the company's output from computers to entertainment in general. Although they took a moderately successful start, it was the iTunes Music Store that would prove to create the Apple monopoly over the MP3 craze. Trying to maintain the legitimacy of the MP3 industry, Jobs miraculously obtained signatures from the five major music companies, which gave iTunes permission to sell music and albums from those companies on iTunes. The iTunes Music Store had 85 million songs in stock and was Fortune magazine's "Product of the Year" for 2003. As the three tied together--the iPod, iTunes, and the iTunes Music Store--sales for the iPod skyrocketed nationwide. The popular neon billboards, with people dancing in their own unique way to songs uploaded on their iPods appeared on street corners everywhere. With the music industry in the palm of his hand, and more advanced iPod versions released frequently, Jobs shook the nation with his iPod mania.
     Jeffrey S. Young credits Jobs's success to his overwhelming drive, charisma, and ability to connect everyday people to electronics. "He was a person who, more than any other, had made technology seem freighted with promise for every person." 10 With a combination of Jobs' signature phrases and a brief history, Young's thesis focuses on both Jobs' personal and business maturity. Centered on Jobs's famous speech in 2000 at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Young shows the change in Jobs's reputation from the Apple faithful and longtime friends, to his own self-respect. Originally a know-it-all rich playboy, Jobs is transformed into a family-man who understands the needs of the industry and the needs of his own company. This book isn't about Jobs's success, but the events in his life that molded his personality into a well-rounded, extremely successful businessman.
     In this book, the author's assumptions and point of view are explained through numerous small comments. One such is during a description of Jobs elementary pranks, when Young states that Jobs's "sense of pride and satisfaction in giving pain offers another clue to what Steve would become."11 This statement over exemplifies Jobs' satisfaction in being a rascal into a cruel state of mind that would be forced onto others. His bias--a disrespect for Jobs character and personality, but a severe respect for Jobs business prowess and fierce determination--outline Young's views on the reasons for many of Jobs's business and life decisions. He repeatedly condemns Jobs's arrogance in the face of failure, which isn't necessary in the narration. His own personal thoughts on Jobs are expressed through his comments on how Jobs' certain quality or idiosyncrasy will greatly benefit him in the future, or doom him. Because of his bias, the author sometimes becomes sidetracked and loses touch with his purpose: to detail Jobs' decisions in life and how his personality dictated them.
     In turn, the book loses some respect due to a somewhat predictable course of action--slowing revealing Jobs's strongest traits and how they will affect him in life. The title itself is a mystery, is the author praising Jobs or calling him a con? And in making very critical and close observations of Jobs lesser important events--his observation of Eisner's fall in Disney--and lack of depth in his NeXT venture, Young shows a little off-track research and writing. Although one Disney executive though Jobs would be "a perfect guy to take over Disney," Young didn't need to explore Michael Eisner's flailing position in Disney to such an extent.12 The writing and vocabulary can also become tiresome and repetitive, the syntax repetitive, and content repetitive. Overall, the biography succeeds and is hard to put down--no book is perfect. TheRegister.com's Charles Arthur provided a criticism, claiming that although Jobs is an icon to businesses, his title does not hold weight with employees, whom he repeatedly criticized and pushed so that company employees were psychologically and mentally strong enough to deal with Jobs's intense determination. All in all, Arthur gives credit to Young for his description of the numerous strong qualities that Jobs has, "innate negotiating skills, and an ability to evaluate people in moments," but refers to a previous biography, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, by Alan Deutschman as a true representation of Jobs.13 Another website, Graphicdesign.com, praises Young for his examination of "Jobs' remarkable resurgence, one of the most amazing business comeback stories in recent years."14 However, this review does too much praising and too little criticizing. All in all, the book provides extensive information for those who previously knew little or nothing beforehand, and is an interesting read.
     According to Young, the combined effect of Apple's products has changed business, and cultural attitudes. Their buildings, constructed around both business and relaxation quarters, where they had video games, culture, and a largely successful production line, gave other companies the idea to create change in the workplace. Creating such mottos as "The Journey is the Reward," and "Beyond the Box," Apple has also changed the business state of mind by pushing the boundaries of simplicity and design to create hugely successful products. 15 The iPod, simple yet elegant, is a direct symbol of Apple's triumph in championing design while keeping the users at ease. Specifying that users must be able to listen to music in 3 clicks of the iPod, Jobs demanded usability and visible aesthetics. Apple's effect on the culture of California was startling. For the first time, through Apple's hands, an affordable, personal computer had been created. The company exuded a unique attitude, from its lax clothing requirements to its campaign. Examples include showing up to meetings in sandals and jeans, and working longer hours than they were paid for. Their unique campaigns can be seen through their 1984, short, but powerful commercial about the company, or their world-famous iPod billboards, "Because life is random." 16 Previously, the public had viewed computers as purely for business, as taken from the motives of such corporations as Microsoft and IBM. What was idea-changing about Apple was that the company had the most advanced user-interface throughout all of their computers; they were the first to utilize the drag-down menu and the icon structure and also had great design. Their business ethics--dominated by Jobs's Zen way of life--changed practices in other companies.
     Apple and Jobs owe their success to Jobs's ability to pull customers into the realm of Apple through user simplicity and applications. Creating appealing products that combine advanced technology and design, Apple has affected not only the business world but also the cultural world. Design has always been a factor in business, but in the monotone world of older electronics, the public saw electronics as ugly and clumsy, with an infinite number of wires and boards needed to perform simple actions. Apple changed all that, using the least number of electronics possible to perform more advanced actions, all keeping an elegant design and appealing structure. But most importantly, "it looked like a real product." 17 Not only has Apple molded the electronics industry, it continues to be a success because it has changed the system, continues to change it, and continues to bring the newest and most powerful products to the market.


1. Young, Jeffrey S. iCon: Steve Jobs-The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. 111 River Street: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005, 3. 2. Young, Jeffrey S. 10 3. Young, Jeffrey S. 10 4. Young, Jeffrey S. 15 5. Young, Jeffrey S. 15 6. Young, Jeffrey S. 133 7. Young, Jeffrey S. 162 8. Young, Jeffrey S. 249 9. Young, Jeffrey S. 284 10. Young, Jeffrey S. 3 11. Young, Jeffrey S. 10 12. Young, Jeffrey S. 314 13. Arthur Charles, theregister.com. 14. Graphicdesign.com. 15. Young, Jeffrey S. 3 16. Young, Jeffrey S. 327 17. Young, Jeffrey S. 41.

Copyright 2007 AP United States History. All Rights Reserved.