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March 5, 2024 65 mins

Robert sits down with Ed Zitron to discuss the early life of Steve Jobs, who started out setting off bombs in school and wound up founding

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Also media the phrase this man ruined the world. He
gets used a lot, particularly by me on this show
Behind the Bastards, which is the podcast you're listening to.
But today, folks, friends, Romans, countrymen, actually people in Rome

are not allowed to listen to this podcast based on
a recent ruling by the Italian Supreme Court. But the
guy we're talking about today is the man who ruined
the world and his name is Steve Jobs. Now is
that a hyperbolic statement? Am I just lying to you
in order to get people to listen to try to
oversell this podcast? Of course, because I'm a hack and

a fraud. But you know it's not a hack and
a fraud. Is our guest today, ed Zitron.

Speaker 2 (00:49):
Hello, and I am not a hack or a fraud.

Speaker 1 (00:52):
That's true, That's right. We are, however, the host of
a podcast called Better Offline.

Speaker 2 (00:58):
Also true, that's.

Speaker 3 (01:00):
Part of this very cool zone media network, this very network.

Speaker 2 (01:04):
I'm one of one of you.

Speaker 1 (01:05):
Now, yeah, and he us want to Better Offline. You
train your gimlet. I towards the tech industry, which dominates
to a significant extent both the US economy and all
of our lives, and provide I think a necessarily jaundiced
look at what's going on there. And when you were

talking about why is the tech industry the way that
it is? Why are tech founders the way that they
are the most influential person to answer that question is
Steve Jobs, right, Like, there's really no competition for that title.
He is the er founder in a lot of ways,
and I want to get into him today. How much

do you know about Steve Jobs?

Speaker 3 (01:50):

Speaker 1 (01:50):
What is your actual information on him as a human
being and not just as like a CEO a founder.

Speaker 2 (01:55):
As a human being. I know very I've not seen
the movies, I've not read the books. The idea of
Walter Isaacson telling me anything is kind of annoying as
a preface. Yes, but I do know that he was
a deadbeat dad.

Speaker 1 (02:08):
He is a deadbeat dad. We'll be talking a lot
about that. There's a There are two big movies about him.
There's the The Ashton Kutcher one which is not very good.

Speaker 3 (02:17):
What did you just how did you just pronounce that man?

Speaker 1 (02:20):
Ashton Aston? I hate him. I hate him, Sophie, I
hate him.

Speaker 2 (02:23):
Did you hear about the fashion social network that he
invests the end? Yes?

Speaker 1 (02:28):
I do, Yes, I do also, and when we do
our episode on him. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (02:32):
He also wrote a letter on behalf of his rapist seventy.

Speaker 1 (02:36):
Yeah, Danny Masterson horrible man, disgusting, and I'll say this,
he's a bad Steve Jobs. He's not good in the movie.
It's not a good movie.

Speaker 2 (02:45):

Speaker 1 (02:45):
Now, the worst sin is not him as Steve Jobs.
It's Josh gadd who I do not like very much
as Steve Wozniak.

Speaker 2 (02:54):
No, now, you can't have Josh Gadders was.

Speaker 1 (02:57):
No, there is as There is a much better movie.
And Seth Rogan plays Wosniak, and Rogan is great casting
for Wozniak. He is a really good was and that
is the better movie. Neither of them is accurate, though
neither of them is very accurate to the man's life.
We're going to try to do better here. One of
my sources for this episode is the book Becoming Steve

Jobs by journalist Brent Schlender. It is I don't love it.
It's slightly less dick righty than Walter Isaacson's biography, but
it's still a lot more dick righty than it ought
to be, which is why my favorite source on at
least the early life of Jobs and the founding of
Apple is the book Infinite Loop, which I think is
a far better work of journalism than either of those.

We also will talk a little bit about the Moritz book.

Speaker 2 (03:41):
The book by.

Speaker 1 (03:42):
Schlender, Becoming Steve Jobs has a forward or a preface.
It has both a forward and a preface, which I
find frustrating. But it's the forward or whatever is written
by Mark Andresen right today. Andrewesen is the CEO massive
venture capital guy, one of the big hypemen and investors
behind the AI revolution, and it addition to believing that
AI will literally become a god, he writes this quote,

if you pulled the thousands of founders, you'd find that
ninety nine point nine percent of them never met Steve.
You'd also find that a fairly large number of them
entered the tech industry after Steve passed away. But overwhelmingly,
if you ask them who their hero is, who they
have tried to learn the most from about how to
build a company and how to have an impact on
the world, Steve is number one on that list by
a very wide margin. I see Steve's influence in everything

they do. It's in their behavior in the polish and
flare of their pitches, it's in the design of their slides.
It's in the use of the word beautiful. Before Steve,
no startup ever use the word beautiful. Now everything has
to be beautiful. Every product needs to be fantastic out
of the gate. Every product has to live up to
its promise and bring delight to the lives of its users.

Speaker 2 (04:45):
So he just fucking lied about everything he's ever invested in.
One of the things that Mark Andresen is responsible for
is the churn investment in startups, pumping him with money
to provide as much service as necessary to capture market
share so that they can destroy incumbents. That doesn't mean

perfect Christ, this man invested in Facebook.

Speaker 1 (05:08):
A lot of what he's saying is nonsense. They're like,
I would say close to zero percent of tech products
instantly delight users upon release, and in fact the norm
is for them to be fucked up and for like
customers to be beta testers. Right, Like that is more
mostly how the industry works. But what Andresen is right
about there where there is a legitimate insight, there is
in his statement about jobs's influence on how founders see themselves,

right yes, the men and women who run the tech
industry today do not just admire Jobs, they want to
be him. And that's a problem because he was a
terrible person. So the story of Steve Jobs starts with
his biological parents, and I'm going to use some very
clinical terms for them for reasons that I think are appropriate.
The man who is effectively his sperm donor is Abdulphata Jandali,

who generally went by John Jendali, was a Syrian man
whose family were outrageously wealthy. How wealthy, Isaacson notes that
his father, Steve's grandfather, pretty much controlled the price of
wheat in Syria. So John becomes a teaching assistant at
the University of Wisconsin and he falls in love with
Joanne Schleebel, in whose womb the clump of cells that

would become Steve Jobs just stated. Joanne's family were German immigrants,
and her father was a rich entrepreneur who was also
kind of a piece of shit. He forbade his adult
daughter from marrying anyone who was not Catholic. He threatened
to cut Joanne off, which caused a problem because she
was already pregnant with Steve. Now Joanne's father was dying

but not fast enough, and she wasn't willing to risk
being cut out of the will. So in fifty five
she travels to San Francisco and she spends time with
a doctor whose specialty was women who wanted to have babies,
but not raise them. Right, they're going to give the
baby up for adoption, you know. And Joanne's requirement because
she's able to list some pretty strict requirements for who's

going to adopt her kid, and one of the things
she says is she wants them to be Catholics and
they have to be college graduates. Now, the first couple
that was going to take Steve they drop out, right like,
they agree to take him and then they back out.
They give him up basically right. I don't think we
know why. But the doctor kind of has to find

a family at the last minute who's going to take Steve,
and he goes with the family that Joanne is not
happy with because they are not college graduate Catholics. And
in fact, the guy who's going to become Steve Jobs's
father is a high school dropout, blue collar mechanic, and
the guy who's going to be his mother is a
high school graduate bookkeeper. Their names are Paul and Clara Jobs.

Isaacson writes of them. When Joanne found out that her
baby had been placed with a couple who had not
even graduated high school, she refused to sign the adoption papers.
The standoff lasted weeks, even after the baby had settled
into the Job's household. Eventually, Joanne relented with the stipulation
that the couple promise, indeed sign up pledge to fund
a savings account to pay for the boys college education.

And this is a messy situation. I've heard it said
that like his adoptive mother says like she wouldn't let
herself love him for the first like six months or
whatever that she had him. I think she's being a
little facetious there, but just because she doesn't know if
she's going to have to give him up right And
to be again perfectly clear, I've never heard any allegation,
including from Steve. Everyone seems to agree his adoptive parents

are deeply loving parents who dote on him rights. He
is the best case scenario for a child who was
adopted right where he is taken in very early by
parents who devote themselves to him, but there's going to
be a long debate over like how the fact that
he is given up both by his birth parents and
by this first couple that's going to adopt him, how

that influences him, right. And it's kind of complicated by
the fact that I think Isaacson is more sympathetic of
his his birth mother and father than I am. He'll
point out that like his birth mother, she's hoping to
take Steve back after her dad dies. She and Gendali Mary,
which is like, I think that's worse, right, Like that
you're not even committing to adopt it. You're trying to

give it up for a little while and then rip
it away from the family. That's that's like, that's bad, right,
That's pretty bad. And like, you have choice here. This
isn't a situation in which she had no agency. She
could have chose to like defy her father for her child,
and she she didn't, And I think that's like a mark.

That's bad. I would say, you know, yes, that's that's
where I land on this. I will say, as a result,
I think this kind of works out better for Steve
because Paul and Clara are devoted in stable parents and
Joanne and John Gendali are not right. They have one
more kid together, but then they divorce, so I don't know.
I feel like it's one of those situations where like,

the people who wind up raising him are the people
who are willing to commit to making him their priority,
and so, you know, as a parent should do, as
a parent should do. There's an interesting aside here, which
is that Steve's biological sister, who he's going to meet
like as a mature adult much later in life, winds
up being the author, Mona Simpson, which is interesting, like

she's like a fairly prominent author, and when I read
this that, like novelist Mona Simpson was his biological sister,
I was like, Oh, that's the name of Homer Simpson's mom.
And I was just going to bring this up as
a weird coincidence because I'm a Simpsons fan. But it
turns out Mona Simpson was married to the Simpson writer
who created the character that's Homer Simpson's mom, and the
character is literally named after her.

Speaker 2 (10:42):
So there you God, yeah, that's kind of weird. These
are the real conspiracy theories. Yeah, yeah, this is the
actual shit that should be on above top se crew.

Speaker 1 (10:52):
Yeah, and there's this is a weird aside. There's a
bizarre number of people with names that are famous for
other reasons. Now in the Steve Job story that we'll
be getting into, it doesn't mean anything, but it's peculiar.
And this is the first.

Speaker 2 (11:07):
Place behind the boss that's promis Yeah, exactly. So.

Speaker 1 (11:12):
Steve is born February twenty fourth, nineteen fifty five, and
when he is adopted, he is eventually named Stephen Paul
Jobs by his adopted parents. Paul and Clara are kind
of lower middle class. I think probably by the time
he's in his late teens, they're like solidly middle class.
His dad is initially like a repoman for a finance company,

and the family lives in a suburb of Mountain View
because it's a lot more affordable than nearby Palo Alto,
right to make additional money. Paul, who is a very
gifted mechanic. Right, he's not a tech guy, he's not
an electronics guy, but he's great with cars. And one
of the things he commits to do because they promised
to start a college fund for Steve, he has a

side gig spends most of Steve's like childhood buying old cars,
fixing them up and selling them for a profit to
like fund Steve's college fund. Right, he also builds.

Speaker 2 (12:04):
This is while entrepreneur is actually used to be.

Speaker 1 (12:07):
Yeah, yeah, he seems pretty cool. Yeah, and he is.
He is very much. He tries to inculcaid and Steve
a love for mechanical work, and it doesn't fully get over.
Steve's going to be reasonably competent with electronics, which his
dad doesn't like. Steve like learns how to fix cars
and stuff, but he never falls in love with it.
But he does like spending time with his dad and

his dad's workshop while his dad builds things. And what
does get transferred from Paul to Steve is the fact
that Paul isn't just someone who's good at fixing stuff.
He has an appreciation for the aesthetics of how things
are built. And Steve would later recall that, like his
dad builds most of the family furniture, and he's the
kind of guy who when he's making a bookcase, he

doesn't just put like a thin sheet of like board
like basically like like particle board at the back of
the bookcase. He uses like real wood for that too,
even though not really going to see it, because he's
one of those guys where he's like what it matters
how the whole thing is constructed, you know, And he's
going to one of the kind of the earliest lessons
Steve is going to learn is he's going to walk

him through like how cars are designed the way they are,
and like what stuff he appreciates about the industrial design
of cars, and Steve is going to be primarily an
aesthetics guy. When we talk about the stuff that Steve
Jobs was actually a genius at, it's understanding what people
want to hold in their hand, you know, Like that's
a thing that he was legitimately probably the best at

in the industry. Is like knowing people, this is what
people tactile in a tactile sense want, and he gets
that from his adopted father. Paul would note that he
wasn't really interested in getting his hands dirty, but yeah,
the two get a lot of bonding time in It's
pretty important to note the extent to which Paul gives
Steve kind of the skill that is going to be

like one of his primary assets when he's when he
gets into business. So it's a pretty good childhood that said,
he still deals with, you know, the fact that he
has adopted the fact that he was given up is
to some extent, kind of this cross he has to bear.
When Steve is six or seven, a girl on his
street finds out that he had been adopted and asks him, so,
does that mean your real parents didn't want you? Which

is the kind of like casually horrible thing children say.

Speaker 2 (14:17):
To each other.

Speaker 1 (14:18):
Right, Yeah, And Steve would later recall quote, lightning bolts
went off in my head. I remember running into the
house crying and my parents said, no, you have to understand.
They were very serious and looked me straight in the eye.
They said, we specifically picked you out. Both of my
parents said that and repeated it slowly to me, and
they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.

And this is like there's a lot of argument. A
lot of people who were friends with him and knew
him will say that, like the fact that he was
given up causes this deep insecurity in him, and it's
kind of the root of a lot of the unpleasantness
in his personality. A lot of like the cruel stuff
that he'll do, is this damage she suffers as a
result being given up Steve never really admitst that himself.

He doesn't seem to feel that was the case. And
while he's not the most reliable source on himself, I
do think that, like it's kind of worth noting his
attitude is that, like I'd ever felt abandoned, I felt
chosen right.

Speaker 2 (15:15):
Also, I would not be surprised if for the rest
of his life he thought of that girl who said
it knows her name, her social Security number, her address,
and she can't use iCloud.

Speaker 1 (15:26):
Yes, yeah, I think it's it's probable that like both
of those things are are factors, right, that he is
both because of how other people treat him as a
result of this, Like he grows up with a chip
on his shoulder, and also he grows up feeling special
because unlike most kids, his parents like specifically picked him
as an individual, Like didn't just decide to have a kid,

but like saw him before he was their kid and
chose him. And that has an impact on how he
feels about himself. Right that said, You're going to get
a lot of different accounts on this. One of his
old friends told Isaacson, I think his desire for complete
control of whatever he makes derives directly from his personality
and the fact that he was abandoned at birth. He

wants to control this environment, and he sees the product
as an extension of himself. Isaacson quotes another friend who
claims this made Jobs independent because he was quote in
a different world than he was born into. I don't
know how much you want to take all of that seriously.

Speaker 2 (16:22):
Yeah, that feels like fantasy foot bullshit, Like you just
kind of guessing because you'll never get You would have
never got the truth out of Jobs, and you're certainly
not going to get so many people have been both
scorned and made rich by him. It's almost impossible to
gauge it is.

Speaker 1 (16:39):
And it's like, yes, he is a control freak, but
most control freaks were not adopted, right, So I don't
know that we need to assume that's why, Right, you
could he could just as easily get it from the
fact that his parents. One thing you can criticize them
for is they're too doting on him, right, Like that
could just as easily be responsible for this kind of

trolling nature is the fact that he always has as
a child near total control of his environment because his
parents basically don't say no to the kid. Right, you know,
a couple of ways this could have gone. One of
the things that's a big influence on him is that
growing up where he did in California, most of his
neighbors are tech guys. Right. This is the tech industry
of the sixties the seventies, where the bulk of it

is centered around aerospace and defense. And several of these
guys take a shine to Steve and he'll go and
visit them as they're tinkering in their workshops and they're
tinkering Unlike his dad, who's like messing around with cars
and furniture, they're tinkering with like speakers, with electronics. Right.
So he learns a lot of lessons from them, and
at kind of one crucial point when he's a young kid,

he's talking to his dad about one of the projects
these guys has showed him, and his dad says, well,
that's not the way speakers work, and he like corrects
his father because he knows more about that stuff than
he does, and he kind of has this blinding realization,
which I do think maybe it's a little bit of narcissism.
He comes to this like blinding realization, Oh my God,
I'm smarter than my father, right, which.

Speaker 2 (18:07):
I don't know that he really is, but what an
insane thing to think.

Speaker 1 (18:11):
Yeah, yeah, it gets to this the way tech guys
think about intelligence, which is it is entirely based around
how good you are at like knowing how to do
the two things they care about, as opposed to like,
but but you can't do all this other stuff, right,
Is the fact that you're good at coding make you
smarter than a guy who's a heart surgeon or a
guy who's a really good automotive mechanic. Well, no, those

are different things, and they're all intelligences, you know. But
Steve is going to be like, well, because I understood
electronics better than my dad did, even though there was
a lot of shit he knew better than me, I
realized I'm smarter than.

Speaker 2 (18:44):
Him, right right? And because he did speak, Yeah.

Speaker 1 (18:48):
Because he knows speakers now, and he describes he feels
like shame for thinking this, and I'm I'm sure these
two things war for themselves in his young mind, but
it does kind of say a lot about him, and
that's how he interprets this. One's the that Steve does
understand at a pretty early age, his mom and dad
are kind of willing to roll over for him, you know,
and he is able to push them consciously for things

that he wants to get. He later recalls that they quote,
since I was special and were willing to defer to
my needs, and this feeling that he is special and
that the world and people around him will naturally ben
the need of his wishes. This is more critical, I
think than anything in creating Steve's conception of himself. Now,

while his parents coddled him, the rest of the world
is harsher to him. And the gap between those two realities,
the way his parents treat him and the way the
world is makes Steven a kind of a cry baby.
And I'm going to quote now from the book Infinite
Loop by Michael Malone. Steve was also a whiner when
he took swim classes at the Mountain View Dolphins Swim Club.
One of his classmates, Mark Wozniak, yet more evidence that

Silicon Valley has always been a very large small town,
would recall he was pretty much a cry baby. He'd
lose a race and go go off and cry. He
didn't quite fit in with everybody else. He wasn't one
of the guys. In fact, he was one of the
boys found in every class who get the stuffing knocked
out of them on a regular basis, And tears are
a constant thing in jobs relation with others. Every when

you read stories about him in the early days of Apple,
every like four pages he's weeping in a meeting because
somebody challenges him on something. He cries openly in business
meetings constantly. Anytime there's a fight and someone's like, Steve,
you're wrong, will start fucking crying.

Speaker 2 (20:33):
That is actually the best thing I've ever heard is
Steve Joe's weeping the weepy weep way You've.

Speaker 1 (20:40):
Got You've got two kinds of like big tech executives.
You've got Steve Jobs crying because someone disagreed with him
and then like going behind their back to get them fired.
And then you've got Steve Balmer, former CEO of Microsoft,
throwing chairs at people in staff meetings.

Speaker 2 (20:57):
How just I don't want to skip ahead too much much,
but like, how long did he cry for? Did he
cry throughout his whole career or was it just the beginning.

Speaker 1 (21:05):
I think it's just his first period of time at Apple, right,
because he's he's there for a while, he helps found it,
he against gets forced out, then he starts a couple
of companies, and we'll talk about all this later. I
don't think he's as much of a tears guy when
he comes back to lead out.

Speaker 2 (21:21):
That's a huge shame because I would have really loved
it if he were just constantly crying.

Speaker 1 (21:25):
He is well into his thirties, that guy, So we
can say Stacks now. His early memories. It's also worth
noting involve a fair amount of financial precarity, right, which
has a significant impact on him. Paul, when he's a
young kid, takes night classes to get a real estate
license in the hope of improving the family financial situation.

And then the bottom falls out of the market and
the job's family spends a year or so kind of
barely scraping by. His mom has to take on another job.
His family is to take out a second mortgage. There's
a moment when his fourth grade teacher asks him what
is it you don't understand about the universe, And his
response is, I don't understand why, all of a sudden,
my dad is so broke, and I identify with that.

I had a similar my dad took training to become
like an Oracle col database administrator, and like got a
new job in tech right as the tech industry collapsed
in the first dot com crash, and it like ruined
our family for a while. My mom had to take
on extra Like that's a traumatic thing for a kid, right,
realizing that your parents are just scrambling to get by,
and that's going to have an impact on how he

treats money, which is, by the way, like a dick.
He is like weirdly stingy, especially to like his own child.
But we'll get to that. This combination of financial distress,
of feeling like you's smarter than everyone, and of being
bullied leads to a kid who kind of compulsively acts
out and as an adult jobs Tells his biographer Isaacson, quote,

I had a good friend named Rick Farentino, and we'd
get into all kind sorts of trouble. We made little
posters announcing bring your pet to school day. It was
crazy with dogs chasing cats all over and the teachers
were beside themselves. Another time they convinced some kids to
tell them the accommodation numbers for their bike locks. Then
we went outside and switched all of the locks and
nobody could get their bikes. It took them until late

that night to straighten things out. When he was in
third grade, the pranks became a bit more dangerous. One time,
we set off an explosive under the chair of our teacher,
Miss Thurman. We gave her a nervous twitch. What the.

Speaker 2 (23:23):
Steve jumps the djoko?

Speaker 1 (23:25):
Yeah you would go to prison for that today, school
resource officer shoot you?

Speaker 2 (23:32):
Yeah, how fuck o, little man.

Speaker 1 (23:37):
It's the My dad would tell me stories of like, yeah,
we used to all have everyone had a pocket knife
in school, and like, you know, my family, who grew
up more in Oklahoma when in like the seventies, was like, yeah,
kids would take their rifles to school, like and they
keep them in their cars and shit during deer season.

Speaker 2 (23:53):
Would yeah, you don't.

Speaker 1 (23:54):
People just don't do that anymore.

Speaker 2 (23:56):
You'll go to dude too woke, Yeah, dude of woke.

Speaker 1 (24:01):
So this is all pretty I mean, I think that
is a little extreme even for the time, But neither
Paul or Clara ever disciplined Steve for this behavior. Paul
even tells his teachers, if you can't keep him interested,
it's your fault. Basically, if he's not challenged enough at school,
it's because you guys are doing a bad job as teachers.
And whatever he does is justified, which is maybe not

the best lesson to teach him.

Speaker 2 (24:24):
This is straight up what they told me with my
Bengal cats. Yeah, if they're two bits, like if they're
meowing all the time, it's because you're not entertaining them. Like,
that's right, Jesus.

Speaker 1 (24:34):
If only someone had given Steve one of those like
balls of yarn that you like, hang from the roof
so he can big wheel. Yeah, it's real that he can.
He can spin around. That's all he needed. Even when
Steve he gets kicked out of the first grade at
one point, and he's still not punished for it, and
so again he grows up. And I'm mixed about this.
I think we generally kids are punished more often than

they ought to be for shit that they probably shouldn't
be punished for. But also at a certain point, if
you're putting explosives under your teacher's chair, you probably should
be punished.

Speaker 2 (25:05):
Yeah, I feel like Palo Alta Kaita needs to be
put down, like Jesus fucking So, there were signs early then.

Speaker 1 (25:13):
Yes, yes, yes, that he was. He was he does
not really care about how his actions harm other people, right,
pretty early. Thing that we can see happening here, and
you know, part of what he's going to grow up
believing is that when he behaves badly at someone else's fault.
You know, it's the school's fault for making him memorize
stupid stuff rather than stimulating him.

Speaker 2 (25:34):

Speaker 1 (25:34):
One teacher does eventually figure Jobs out right, and she's
able to turn him into an excellent student. And the
way she does this, I've never heard of a teacher
doing this. She pays him when he does his homework,
She gives him money to do his homework, right, yeah,
which is and eventually Shot transitions to like giving him
little gifts, these like mechanical toys that he has to build,

and this works. It turns him into a good student.
I don't know that that's necessarily the lesson you want
to teach a kid, but Steve would later claim that
without her, he thinks he would have gone to jail.
And I think there's this is actually something I think
Steve has some insight into himself about Steve Jobs very
well could have become a criminal. Right, he has all

of the things that a criminal needs. He doesn't quite
go that way, but like he's willing to break the law,
he's willing to hurt and cheat people. And maybe he's
right that like this teacher, because she teaches him that
like following within the lines leads to money, that's kind
of the path he goes on the rest of his life.

Speaker 2 (26:37):
So maybe she.

Speaker 1 (26:38):
Did stop him from being a criminal and turn him
into something that maybe did more harm in the Laura,
But I don't know, that's a debatable. Isaacson talked to
this teacher decades later when he was writing his book
about jobs, and her favorite memory of Steve was at
the school's annual Hawaii Day, where everyone in the class
got to wear a Hawaiian shirt. Steve showed up without one,
but in pictures from the day he's wearing one because

he convinces another kid to give him the shirt off
of his back, which tells you the degree which he's
already learning how to manipulate people quite well. So his
teachers eventually advised his parents that he should be skipped
ahead two grades. Now they only move him ahead one grade.
I think his parents are like two is too far
that's going to make him, which is probably, you know,
a responsible call. This seems to have contributed to his

parents viewing him as something of a marvel, and it
certainly adds to the bullying right before eighth grade starts.
In fact, the bullying is so bad that he's like,
I refuse to go to school. Right fall comes around
and they're about to start, and he's like, I'm not
going to go to school, like I will drop out.
I will refuse to attend unless you move us to
a more expensive neighborhood and enroll me in a better school. Right,

and I'm going to quote from Michael Malone describing the
threat he makes to his parents over this. When Steve
Jobs made his ultimatum, the most amazing thing happened. His
parents agreed. His family moved to a safer and more
expensive neighborhood in Sunny Vale, despite the fact that they
will working extra jobs just to stay solvent, despite the
fact that it meant an even longer commute for his father,

and pulled his sister out of elementary school. This was power,
and Stephen Jobs learned its lesson great Yep, maybe not
a great lesson to teach this kid.

Speaker 2 (28:16):

Speaker 1 (28:16):
But I by using threats, he can manipulate reality.

Speaker 2 (28:20):
None of this, and I've been in the tech industry
about fifteen years, none of this has ever come up
with People including people like o Malek or Walt Mossberg
have talked about Steve Jobs so much their eyes blade.
No one ever talks about the fact that he is
some combination of like Dennis the Menace and the Joker.

Speaker 1 (28:39):
He has did it yet, just and that's next with
the fucking Joker. It's this is why I like I
use because Isaacson talks. One thing Isaacson is good at
is getting access. So he does you have to use
his biography because there's a lot of stories you get
from people who grew up with Steve that you only
get in Isaacson's book.

Speaker 2 (28:56):

Speaker 1 (28:57):
But Malone's book Infinite Loop because Malone hasn't bought the
kool aid. And also, Infinite Loop is written before Jobs.
It's kind of published like a year or two after
he comes back to Apple, but it's before he's turned
Apple into the wealthiest and most powerful company in the world. Right,
So the story of Steve Jobs is different. When Malone

writes Infinite Loop, it's the story of a man who
founds a company, makes a lot of money, makes a
series of horrible decisions, and almost drives the company into bankruptcy. Right,
And so as a result, it's a much more cynical
look at jobs, and so you get, I think, a
more tempered view of who he is as a person.
It's not nearly as popular a book as Isaacson's, but

I think it's a better one. So anyway, we use
a lot of books for these episodes. But you know
who hates books and reading in general.

Speaker 3 (29:51):
Robert, what who are you referring to.

Speaker 1 (29:54):
The sponsors of our podcast, Sophie?

Speaker 3 (29:56):
You know, I hope it's an ad for public libraries
and how great they are.

Speaker 1 (30:00):
Listen, folks, you don't need to learn how to read.
All you need to know how to do is type
your credit card information into the websites of our sponsors.

Speaker 3 (30:07):
Did you see that that the public libraries in New
York are closed on the weekends, but they had funding
for the NYPD dance troupe?

Speaker 2 (30:16):
Yeah, and they were. They were terrible. They weren't. It
was it was they weren't.

Speaker 1 (30:21):
Even in time. Everyone's read Moby Dick. What we haven't
seen as cops fail at dancing.

Speaker 2 (30:28):
Then someone just throws an kon onto the stage and
they just unloaded that this thousand sty good stuff.

Speaker 1 (30:39):
All right, here's ads and we're back. So, you know,
Steve is coming up. He's in school around the same
time Gates is, you know, around the same time that
whole first gin of tech founders is. And they all
have a similar experience, which is they all in counter

computers early on and before most people in the country,
including most adults, have any firsthand experience with computers. Bill Gates,
it's because his parents send me to a fancy private
school and they buy a computer for the school. In
Steve's case, it's because he joins the Explorers Club, which
is like, you know, Hewlett Packard, the company. Hewlett Packard
is like the chief sexy tech company of the day.

Right now, it's kind of a boring brand, but Hewlett
Packard is like innovative. They are like the smartest motherfuckers
in the state, right Like that's how people think about HP.
And HP has this thing that's like that. It's like
HP's boy Scouts, right It's like a tech focused boy
Scouts where kids get you know, you can go into
the HP offices, and these kids can get access to

a computer and like code on it, put in. And
at this point, people don't have individual computers. Computers are
things that are like owned by large institutions. You don't
just like have one in your house, right, it's not
really feasible, you know. And so the fact that Steve
gets first hand experienced with a computer here is really noteworthy,
and he falls in love with it. He's like fascinated
with this thing. And one of these things that Steve

has from an early age is he has incredible intuition
about certain things. Right, he understands what people want in technology,
and he understands what's going to be big in technology,
and as soon as he gets his hands on a computer,
he's like, this is the future. And he also from
an early age, is really good at getting what he

wants out of people. He's working on a project for
the Explorers Club at one point and he needs some
like hard to find parts that HP makes, and they're
not in any like catalogs. So he he finds the
CEO of HP's home phone number and he calls him
and is like, hey, I need these parts. He like
talks him into sending the parts over so that he

can like finish this project. And you know the guy
he's talking to is Bill Hewitt. You know, he's the
CEO and he's one of the founders of the company.
And once he makes he doesn't just make this connection
get some parts out of him. He starts because Hewitt's
kind of pressed with this kid and his gumpchin. He
pushes until Hewitt gives him a summer job at HP
as well. And this is going to be Steve's first job.
So you know, that's a pretty that shows fairly few

children are able to do something like that, right have
the wherewithal to do that, Steve Dutz and that's noteworthy. Now,
probably the single most important moment of his childhood comes
when he is sixteen, and this is when he meets
another kid, another Steve named Steve Wohniak. The WAWS, as
he came to be known, is several years older than Steve,

and he is he is the kind of guy all
of these tech founders want to be Steve jobs all
of them also pretend to be Steve Wosniak, because Wosniak
is the thing that almost none of these guys are.
He is a legitimate technological genius and also a legitimately
nice guy and a very nice a very nice man.
I literally met him two weeks ago and we just

talked about tech shit for like an hour, and he
was the sweetest guy and knew what he was told
and about ye like, and I've met a lot of
founders and I've met Steve Jobs obviously, and they're usually
it's very fucking weird. He's just like a nice guy,
like nice old man who's just like loves tak. Yeah
that's a shame they know more of them like him. Yeah,

it is a shame, and it's and he is one
of these guys. He is from a very early age,
just an absolute genius at technology. He and Steve go
to the same high school. He's like, I think four
or five years older than Steve, so he's graduated by
the time that they meet, but he's he's still he's
hanging out with some of lower classmen that he knew
when he was still in school. And one of these

guys is a friend of Steve's. And that's how Steve
Jobs and Steve Wozniak meet. Now. The Waws is the
son of a Lockheed engineer and he's he's one of
these people who's always innately brilliant with circuits and machines.
One of the things he's famous for is he's he's
able to a big part of early computing is figuring
out how to do things with fewer chips, basically, and

he is great at that at efficiency, because the more
efficient you make it, the more shit you can fit
into a smaller package effectively. I'm people who are real
tickets are going to yell at me for like summarizing
it that way, but he is like the best at
optimizing shit to make it more efficient.

Speaker 2 (35:17):

Speaker 1 (35:17):
One of the first things he builds is a digital
it's called a blue box, and it is at the time,
the way the phone system works is phones send tones
to each other in order to transmit commands, right, And
so if you can mimic the tone that a phone
sends the central machine or whatever to say like authorize

a long distance call, then you can get free long
distance calls. And the box they basically Wosniak finds this
guide to how the phone company is like shit works,
and he emulates all of these things. So he makes
this box that you can use to hack the phone system.
If you have one of these, you can make the
phones do whatever you want for free. Right, you can

get free calls, and that's a big deal because that's
a major expense at the time. Right Jobs works on
the project with Wosniak. Wosniak's obviously the big technical mind,
but it's like a thing that they do together. And
for the Wosniak, he wants this thing for himself because
it's a nice gizmo to have and it's a fun
technical challenge. But that's kind of the extent of his
interest in making this thing. Steve sees this differently. He's like,

we can sell this, We can make some money with
this invention of yours, and so he convinces Wosniak to
mass produce and sell his blue box. This is a
serious crime, right, you are hacking the phone system here.
This is so fucking illegal what they're doing. What Steve
is saying is basically it is not any different from

in a legal sense, from saying we should sell Heroin, right,
like he is saying, we need to get into business
committing a series of crimes. Right, And the two kind
of get into this a lot like other kids treat
selling weed, Right, this is there like selling pot to
make pocket money. Thing of like when when Steve Jobs
as in high school and he doesn't know anything about

marketing yet, but he understands something about like what the
customer base is, and he knows that the people who
are going to want this thing most and be able
to afford it are college kids, right. They have some
amount of money, some amount of financial independence, and they
also are frustrated by how expensive it is to make calls.
They can't make all the calls they want, they can't
run their social life the way they want because using
your phone costs money. So if we can sell them

this device, this is the group that's going to be
most interested in having it and willing to break the
law to have it. So they go door to door
at college campuses, knocking on dorms and offering these very
illegal products to whoever opens the door. Wozniak relentlessly works
to improve the device, whilst Jobs kind of smooths out
the business side of things. One of his innovative crime

yeah yeah, the crime part he writes out handwritten customer
service guarantees. He like basically writes a warranty.

Speaker 2 (37:54):
An SLA for yeah for crime.

Speaker 1 (37:58):
Yeah, he has a crime a crime warranty beautiful. Yeah,
it's kind of it's awesome.

Speaker 2 (38:04):
Yeah, I take everything back. He's not a boss that
he's genius.

Speaker 1 (38:08):
No, No, he is ahead of his time, and it's yeah,
you could argue maybe a bad idea for an illegal product,
but it's good business sense, you know, it makes people
comfortable in the product. And he and Wosniak make about
six thousand dollars selling these things, which is a lot
of money at the time, like that's good money. It
all kind of falls apart when one customer pulls a
gun on them and steals a device. Jobs is kind

of like, well, that's all the appetite for risk I have,
and he decides to quit at that point. Wosniak, maybe
just because he's a little less wise about danger, continues
selling these things for a while, and Jobs just takes
a cut even though he's no longer part of the work.
What makes Wosniak stop is that, like this elder phone

freaker who'd helped him work out the blue box gets
arrested by the Feds, and Wosniak is like, oh shit,
maybe there are consequences for breaking federal laws. You gould stop. Yeah,
crime's illegal.

Speaker 2 (39:04):
No, just one more thing. It's a crime, an.

Speaker 1 (39:09):
Insanely great crime. So the summer Steve and other Steve
sold their blue boxes was the last summer of Jobs's childhood,
and he was already quite independent. He'd fallen for a
girl at his high school, Chrisanne Brennan. They had met
at Homestead High School that same year, and she was
about a year below him. Their daughter Lisa, described their

meat cute this way. On Wednesdays through the night, she
animated a student film in the high school quad with
a group of friends. One of those nights, my father
approached her in the spotlight where she stood waiting to
move the claymation characters, and handed her a page of
Bob Dylan lyrics he'd typed out sad eyed Lady of
the Lowlands. I want it back when you're done, he said,

and that weird anecdote would kind of symbolize the next
forty years of their relationship, him doing stuff that's like
almost sweet and then also we weirdly shitty's He's an
odd man in terms of the way he courts people,
but he is sweet at the start of things. He
like flirts with her by showing up because she's this
thing she's animating is like kind of risque, and the

school doesn't really want them doing it, so they have
to kind of do it in secret. And so he'll
show up to sessions where she's animating these figures and
he'll hold candles up while she works on them so
that she can work in the dark, which is legitimately
pretty romantic. After he graduates, he asks her to move
in with him in a cabin off in the countryside
a little bit for the summer, and his parents aren't

happy that he's like moving with this chick he met
into a cabin before starting college, but they can't really
say no to their kids.

Speaker 2 (40:42):
So he should have thought about that before you trained
him that he can do whatever he wants forever.

Speaker 1 (40:47):
Yeah, Yeah, this one's really on you, guys.

Speaker 2 (40:49):

Speaker 1 (40:50):
So they have an idyllic summer together, funded by the
illegal phone freaking boxes that Steve had been selling. Now,
he had already started smoking pot before they met, but
she introduced him to LSD and he's later going to
say this is like maybe the most significant intellectual moment
of his life. When he takes acid for the first time,
which you know, I don't feel all that different about

me taking acid for the first time. A lot of
people have this experience, and like most kids who have
a profound experience taking acid in high school, he leaves
after graduating to go to Read College in Portland, Oregon.
And Read is that kind of college, right, It is
the like kind of hippie star child school that's like

a big part of its reputation. And chris Anne kind
of breaks up with him before he leaves for school.
We don't really know entirely why it happens. I think
it's partly a result that like neither of them are
good at communicating. So Steve doesn't say, hey, I want
to make this thing more official, and chris Anne is
kind of like, well then you know, I'm going to
go move on with my life, right, And she starts

dating somebody else, but he's in love with her, and
so he's kind of devastated, and at least in the
account that chris Ann gives, he never really forgives her
for breaking up with him. This is going to be
relevant because the person he's going to take this out
on primarily is the child they later have together, but
that has not happened. Yet Steve goes to read He's

only in school for like six months, and then he
decides school is not for me because school is where
people teach you things, and I don't have anything to
learn from other people.

Speaker 2 (42:26):

Speaker 1 (42:28):
So he doesn't fully drop out, though, because Reid is
this kind of school where they're like, look, we cater
to weird people, right, like to folks who are off
the beaten path intellectually. The administrator there is like, well,
if you're not in class and paying, you can still
just show up to school classes that interest you. You know,
that's fine. They call it auditing classes. I don't think

he's really auditing them, but he does kind of just
bum around campus for like a year, And the most
influential part of this is he winds up taking a
calligraphy class, and he will later claim this is why
when the Mac comes out, it allows multiple type phases,
and it's like the I think the first personal computer
where you can pick your font basically, and he would
later tell Isaacson, since Windows just copied the Mac, it's

likely that no personal computer would have them if he
hadn't put them in the Mac. And it's arguable that
that's true. He definitely like cares more about that shit
than most of the people.

Speaker 2 (43:24):
But you're telling me, no, one would think, well, if
the rights look different in history, I think.

Speaker 1 (43:30):
We would have eventually stumbled on to fonts. Steve he
didn't invent design, No, but he doesn't have an impact
on like why it's a priority for the.

Speaker 2 (43:39):
Max, Right, and I can buy that.

Speaker 1 (43:42):
Yeah, he makes some friends at READ, including some folks
who'd become early Apple employees, like Elizabeth Holmes, the girl
friend of his first of his best friend in college.
Is what I was saying when like, there's a weird
number of people who whose names are later famous because
of somebody else.

Speaker 2 (43:57):
Elizabeth Holmes. I thought she was much younger than Yeah.

Speaker 1 (44:01):
This Elizabeth Holmes is a major part of the Steve
Jobs story, which is funny because the criminal Elizabeth Holmes
patterns her entire image off of Steve Jobs, right, huh, Yeah,
it's a weird little quinky dink. Here's how Isaacson describes
Elizabeth Holmes this one meeting Steve Jobs. He insulted her
at their first meeting by grilling her about how much

money it would take to get her to have sex
with another man.

Speaker 2 (44:27):
What a charming fellow, Steve jobs this, Wait, what an
insane conversation to have with anyone that's fucking nutsy? Hey,
what's up anyway?

Speaker 1 (44:40):
Yeah, we get you to fuck that guy?

Speaker 2 (44:43):
Yeah, not me, just another guy.

Speaker 1 (44:44):
And it's he's also in this being shitty to her
boyfriend because in front of him too, he's like, I
wonder how much it would cost to get you to
fuck someone else? Right, But her boyfriend is a guy
named Daniel Kottkey, and Dan is a Buddhist, right, and
he's a very mellow person. He is kind. He's one
of the big early influences on Steve's growing interest in
Eastern spirituality, right, and he and Dan become best friends

for a while. Steve's biggest influence is a book that
they both love called be Here Now, which is a
guide to meditation and psychedelic drugs. Steve becomes particularly enthralled
with Zen Buddhism, and particularly the importance that it places
on intuition, which Steve has begun to believe matters more
than formal knowledge, because again, he's never going to be
a guy who was an impressive formal knowledge credential. And

if you're that kind of guy. It kind of behooves
you to think that what matters most is this kind
of ineffable and unprovable sense that my intuition is better
than other people's.

Speaker 2 (45:38):
Yeah, I don't need to be small, I need to
be right, I think is how he feels.

Speaker 1 (45:42):
Yes very much. And you know who else doesn't need
to be smart but is always right. Sponsors of this podcast,
We're Back soh College is also aware in addition to

kind of getting into zen Buddhism, it's where Steve's dietary
preferences take a spin off the beaten path that will
ultimately cause his death. Steve had always been a picky
eater as a kid, and he'd always kind of preferred
fruit and vegetables to anything else. He has this kind
of natural aversion to I think, particularly like red meats
and also poultry, it seems like. But in his freshman

year he reads a book called Diet for a Small Planet.
At the time, it's a fairly groundbreaking bestseller, advocating for
soy above meat as a protein source and condemning the
meat industry for its environmental impact. All of that is
very good and perfectly fair, right, None of that's wrong. Steve, though,
has this tendency to take things too far right. While

diet for a small planet, it spends a lot of
time discussing necessary combinations of food to ensure optimal health.
If you're going to cut meat out of your diet,
there are things you need to make sure to do
so you don't have vitamin deficiencies, right. I think the
most obvious would be, like an iron deficiency. It's easier
to get enough iron if you're eating red meat. You
don't have to eat red meat to have optimal health.
It's healthier not to, but you do need to. You
do need to take some care in the combinations of

food you have to ensure that you get like enough
iron right. Jobs doesn't really take that part of the
book to heart, and he instead begins embarking on some
extreme and experimental diets. For example, sometimes he'll go weeks
eating nothing but fruit.

Speaker 2 (47:24):

Speaker 1 (47:25):
At one point, he lives entirely off of carrots and almonds.
Friends claim that during these periods of eating basically nothing
but carrots, he has this orange hue to his skin
because of all the fucking carrots he's eating. This is
not good health, right, This is a level of extremity
that is maladaptive. Right, this is an eating disorder. I
think you could you could fairly characterize this. Yeah, And

this bias towards the extreme leads him away from this
first book, which is a pretty reasonable book. I don't
think I've never heard any arguments that it's like wildly
wrong about anything. I think it's got some good information
in it him to a book that's significantly less well grounded,
which is called Mucusless Diet Healing System. Now you can
tell from the title that there's going to be some

nonsense in that book, right.

Speaker 2 (48:12):
Yeah, that sounds like something you would get advertised to
you on Twitter nowadays.

Speaker 1 (48:16):
Yes, yes, it sounds like the kind of thing Elon
Musk would buy into and cause himself permanent, like lymphatic
damage or something. It was written in the early nineteen
hundreds by a German naturapath named Arnold Ritt. Arnold believed
that white blood cells were not part of the immune system,
but a byproduct of mucus producing foods that poison the

blood Erit introduced the concept of an all fruit diet
combined with regular fasting in order to rid the body
of dangerous mucus. In nineteen sixty three, a congressional report
described him as a cult leader whose followers quote believed
that women who adhered to the diet program of professional
professor Arnold Ritt could expect immaculate conception. In other words,

if if you follow the diet, you will have a
child without having sex. Right, your body will spontaneously produce
something that might be a problem of some of the followers.
So yes, yeah, seems like maybe he was covering up
for something else. Eric's followers also believe that all mental
illness was caused by mucus decaying and causing gas pressure

to build up in the brain. Look, folks, I'm not
a psychiatrist, but I feel confident saying that's not what
causes mental illness. That is mental illness.

Speaker 2 (49:35):
I'm gonna I'm gonna have to side with you on
that one. That doesn't sound right to No.

Speaker 1 (49:41):
I've never because the tech Press Corps is not always
doing all the work they ought to do, I haven't
ever run into anyone asking Steve Jobs, do you think
all mental illness is caused by decaying brain mucus brought
on by milk drinking.

Speaker 2 (49:56):
But I wish they will.

Speaker 1 (49:58):
Yeah, yeah, why didn't you ask this moss bird?

Speaker 2 (50:01):
Oh uh yeah, did you do that? No? Yeah, believe
this about woman. I don't think he lost them a
challenging question.

Speaker 1 (50:09):
Okay, no, it's very funny. So physicians have noted that
the fruitarian diet that Jobs embraces does not contain sufficient protein,
and that his fasting schedules could be extremely dangerous. Steve
Jobs based large portions of his life on this man's teachings,
and because he was now eating nearly only fruit, he

stops bathing. And his belief is that body odor only
happens if you eat nasty, mucus causing foods, So if
he's not eating those foods, he has no need to bathe.
Now everyone around him is tell it, spends twenty years
telling him, Steve, you smell like fucking dead ass, Like
take a full crazy that, Yeah, but he is.

Speaker 2 (50:52):
He is.

Speaker 1 (50:53):
It's this thing because this is a religious belief of his.
He's like, no, I can't smell bad, right because I'm
not eating the foods that make you smell bad, So
I will never bathe. Like it's such a weird asshole
thing to do the way that he insists on this.
But this is like Steve Jobs will be the smelly
guy for the next twenty years of his life, right.

Speaker 2 (51:15):
That's insane. Twenty years so well into his career. Apple.

Speaker 1 (51:19):
Yes, yes, they are constantly telling him, Steve, you have
to bathe before we have this meeting with this guy
who's going to invest millions of dollars in the company,
Like these are serious financial people, Like you can't you
smell like my religion?

Speaker 2 (51:30):
I smell this way?

Speaker 1 (51:31):
Because no, it's more like I don't smell this way,
despite what all of you seem to think.

Speaker 2 (51:37):
Jesus Christ, it's such.

Speaker 1 (51:40):
A weird, unhinged thing to insist on. One of his
closest friends while he's living in Oregon is Robert Friedland.
Now today Friedland is a billionaire mine owner, or at
least he was. I don't know, maybe he's dead now,
but he becomes a billionaire mine owner. Right. But Friedland
at this point is a rich hippie kid, right, He's
into all this Eastern spirituality that Jobs is, and he's

got this like Land that's that he has access to
because he's a rich kid. Right. And Friedland meets Steve
Jobs when Steve is trying to sell him a typewriter,
and he walks in on Friedland having sex with his girlfriend. Right,
So he like comes into Friedland's house because he's invited
there to sell him this typewriter and Friedland's having sex
and Jobs is like, oh shit, I'll come back later,

and Friedland is like, no, wait, sit here, they'll be finish,
and like makes Steve wait while he's having sex, and
Steve is impressed by this. He's like, wow, that's a
power move, right, and that guy has sex. As a
weird aside, Jobs is going to do this to people
when he is an adult, and the people he's going

to do this with is much much more fucked up
than what Friedland is doing here. But this becomes a
weird part of Jobs's personality because Jobs is obsessed with
Friedland for a while. Isaacson describes Friedland as almost being
jobs as guru. Right, this is someone he patterns himself
off of. So Friedland gets this farm outside of Portland

and he turns it into a commune that kind of
it's kind of a lower case C cult, right. People
tended to listen to Friedland and do what he said,
and he has this gift for selling people on even
pretty outlandish ideas. Jobs's friend Dan Kottkey later claims Friedland
taught Steve the reality distortion field. He was charismatic and

a bit of a con man and could bin situations
to his very strong will. He was mercurial, sure of himself,
a little dictatorial. Steve admired that, and he became more
like that after spending time with Robert. Now Friedland introduced
Jobs to the local Hari Krishna's and they put him
to work helping out on the farm, which gradually morphed

from a communal living experiment into more of a business.
People start to leave at this point because Friedland becomes
more of a tyrant, and Friedland eventually drops the hippie
shit to acquire a series of gold and copper minds
and become very wealthy. In an interview with Isaac, Jobs
described as old friend and unwittingly himself, Robert always portrayed
himself as a spiritual person, but he crossed the line

from being charismatic to being a con man. It was
a strange thing to have one of the spiritual people
in your young life turn out to be symbolically and
in reality a gold miner. And what's funny about that
is like that is Jobs too. All of this shit
about being into Eastern mysticism and spirituality is an esthetic
choice he makes. It is not a deeply held belief.

That's my contention, right, and we'll build to that as
we go on. But it's kind of noteworthy that he
takes a lot of this from Robert Friedland, who is
the same kind of guy. He enjoys the aesthetic of
being enlightened of this kind of like Eastern non material spirituality,
rejecting the crude pursuit of wealth while pursuing wealth, you know,

and power.

Speaker 2 (54:52):
Yeah, it's all about the finessing the customer into believing
they're participating in culture.

Speaker 1 (54:59):
Yes, yes, and Steve is going to be that kind
of guy in the same way that Friedland is. So
Jobs returns to California after he gives up fully on college,
and he talks his way again and the way that
he's good at into a job working for Atari, and
the way the company founder describes it, Jobs comes in
one day and is basically like, I'm not leaving until
you give me a job. And in the seventies that

kind of thing worked. Steve got back together with Chris
Ann in this period, and you know, they are doing
well for a while. They're kind of got to have
this on again, off again sort of thing for a
period of several years. He goes to India for an
extended period of time, you know, kind of in the
middle of this, he takes a leave of absence basically

from Atari and he goes to India to like find himself.
He's hoping to meet this guru he's a fan of
named Maharajji, and this guy had been influential to several
of his friends. Kotky's a fan too, and he's traveling
there with Katki. But the guru dies right before Jobs
shows up, like a day or two before he arrives
at this guy's like place. He passes, So instead Jobs

attends the kum Mela. And the Mela is I've been
to the Mela. It's this event. I think it's every
four years in one of this rotating set of cities
in India, and every twelve years they do a mela
in a Lahabad, which is like the holiest of the melas.
And every time they do this thing, every time they
do a kum Mela, it's the largest gathering of human

beings for any purpose in the history of the human race.
When Jobs is there, it's like ten million people.

Speaker 2 (56:34):

Speaker 1 (56:34):
The Mela that I attended, and I think twenty thirteen
was like one hundred and ten million people. There were
about and this is over the course of a month,
but there were like forty million people in tents when
it was like three New York cities where the people
intents when I was there. This is an intense event
to go to, right, And it's one of those things
that like you can't you can't not be affected by it,

just sheerly because of the sheer mass of huge scale. Yeah,
it's there's nothing else that's ever been like it in
the whole history of our species. Right, It's this totally
unique event, and it has an impact on Jobs. He
gets his head shaven, you know. While he's there, he
reads this book called Autobiography of a Yogi, which he's
going to reread every year of his life. It's like

the only book on his iPad. And one friend claimed
that he even considers becoming a Sadhu. And sad whos
are these kind of wandering, itinerant Hindu monks. They're these
very intense, like wandering religious wildmen in a certain way.
They're kind of constantly smoking marijuana. It's a big thing,
like the sod who's get this kind of exemption to
the Indian laws for that, and you know, a lot

of them show up at the MELA and Jobs claims
that he like or claims through a friend basically that
he was considering adopting this life for himself. I don't
think that's ever a serious thing things about. Yeah, yeah,
that is very see.

Speaker 3 (57:55):

Speaker 1 (57:56):
Yeah, yeah, there's a version of the future that's maybe
better where he does this. Jobs would later claim his
time in India convinced him of the premium importance of intuition,
and he claims this in a very racist fashion. Here's
what he writes to Isaacson. The people in the Indian
countryside don't use their intellect like we do. First mistake,

everybody uses their intellect for the same things, which is
reasoning things out. But okay, he says, they use their
intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than
in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very
powerful thing, more powerful than intellect. In my opinion. That's
had a big impact on my work, Western rational thought
is not an innate human characteristic. It is learned and

it is the great achievement of Western civilization. In the
villages of India, they never learned it. Yes they did.
They have science, Steve, they build cities, there's a tech
industry in India. They didn't never develop intellect, Like, what
is wrong with you?

Speaker 2 (58:54):
Like, just to be clear, this man is insanely racist
and wrong, yes, in so many ways, But it is
kind of interesting how he's running completely parallel to how
people like Andresen think, who are very much like logic
is what logic is, what's most important. Logic is the
thing Elon Musk's same deal all of these like rationalist freaks.

I think Steve Jobs is horrifying. It's just interesting seeing
that kind of juxtaposition.

Speaker 1 (59:21):
And it is he's wrong about like India, right, because
India is completely you know, if you've read anything of
Indian history, has a lot of history states right, like, yes,
it's a large organized country and it has been a
large organized region of the world for a very long time.
The idea that like, yeah, they only have intuition over

there is racist and nonsense. I will say to the
because one of the things we'll be building towards in
later episodes is Steve, unlike most of these guys, unlike
andresen is legit, has a legitimate kind of genius, right,
Maybe not in the way that he gets credit for,
but he is really good at certain things, and he's
good at certain things that these their founders who are
aping him are not good at. And I think it

is because they are all obsessed with being rational, and
he is more obsessed with stuff that he's never even
going to try to justify as rational. When Jobs is
repeatedly turning back early iterations of the iPhone and saying,
this isn't ready, This isn't ready, it's not because of
anything he can prove objectively. It's because of this feeling
that like, no, this is not yet what people want
to put in their fucking pocket and have with them

all the time, right. And so there is I think
an extent to which you do have to understand. The
kind of intuition that he has is crucial in his success.
It's nuts what he thinks about intuition and regards to India.
But like the fact that he is so focused on
intuition is part of why he's good at the things
he's good at, right, I think that is kind of

important to understand. Now, the contrast between the cold hearted
corporate maven and the hippie kid baffles a lot of
people in jobs's orbit. One former Apple executive related this
to Brn Schlnder. There was always the spiritual side which
didn't seem to fit with anything else he was doing.
And one thing that becomes clear when you study the
man is that the Buddhism and the hippie philosophizing, these

are all aesthetics to jobs. He likes the way they
feel and look, and the way that wrapping himself and
then makes him feel. But at his center, he is
still driven by a terrible and very mundane ambition, and
so he leaves India. He does not become Asadu. He
gets his job back at Atari when he returns, and
he rekindles his friendship with Wozniak, who had started working
for HP at the time. Now, while this is going on,

computers are still things that corporations purchase to handle specific,
limited tasks. There is a computer hobbyist scene that is
starting to build, but it's small, and to be in
it you can't just buy a computer and be a
guy who's into computers. You're gonna have to build it, right,
You're going to have to solder. We're not even talking
building it the way you build one now, where you
buy a box and you buy pieces and you slot

them and connect them. You are like soldering chips together. Right,
That's the only way to have a machine that functions.
In this period of time, personal computers are not a
thing yet. It's not a concept really in most people's heads.
In the book Becoming Steve Jobs, Schlnder notes that there
was only one word processor on the market that a

regular person might be able to afford. Jobs had a
keen enough sense of the future that he knew this
was going to change. He wanted to drive that change,
but first he needed startup capital. Steve's boss at Atari
had asked him to create a prototype for a new
version of Pong, and it offered a sizeable bonus if
he could reduce the number of chips required. This task

was well beyond Steve, but not beyond Wosniak, who easily
completed the job. The two were paid seven hundred dollars,
which they split evenly. Then Jobs was given a bonus
either five thousand or seven thousand dollars for completing it,
you know the way that Wosniak completed it. So they
get this massive bonus because Wosniak is able to hit

these kind He's able to reduce the chips by a
certain amount. Right, Steve doesn't hell Wosniac that they've been
given a bonus. He splits the seven hundred with him,
and he pockets five thousand or seven thousand dollars and
lies about it to the guy who's supposed to be
his best friend. Steve is at Wosniak does not find
out about this betrayal for more than a decade, right,

And in twenty eleven, he gives an interview about this
on a BBC podcast, which The ib Time summarizes this way.
When asked if he was bitter about the deal, Wozniak
said no, but confessed I cried. I cried quite a
bit when I read that in a book. And yeah,
it's really sad.

Speaker 2 (01:03:32):
It's really sad. That means he actually like can't.

Speaker 1 (01:03:35):
Yeah, he was, he loved Jobs like this, This is
finding best friend Steve.

Speaker 2 (01:03:40):
Jobs cried, Yes, this was relevant, mm hmm.

Speaker 1 (01:03:45):
A reason of finding out you've been betrayed like this. Yeah,
there's a reason for some tears. And it's fucked up
about this. At the very end of his life, Isaacson
is going to press Jobs on this, and Jobs never
admits to having robbed Wosniak. He's like, he misremembered it, right,
Steve Wozniak has a plane crash after Apple's IPO, right,
and it does some brain damage to him. Wosniak suffers

some damage as a result of this, and Jobs basically
kind of tries to gaslight him and is like, he's
misremembering it, right, you know, Christ he doesn't remember it properly,
Andosniak is like, no, I remember what I got and like,
And they've talked to biographers, have talked to the people
at Atari who are like, no, yeah, we paid Jobs
all this money. And if Wosniak says he didn't get it,

he probably didn't get it right. So that's Yeah, that's
probably the first real fucked up thing Jobs has done.
And there's a lot more to other than the bombs
at his school, other than the bombs at his school, right,
other than bombing his teacher. Yeah, but we'll be getting
in all of that and more in part due But first,

do you have a podcast ed where people can listen
to your?

Speaker 2 (01:04:56):
Do? I do? I have a podcast called Better Offline,
a weekly tech show analyzing people like Steve Jobs, but
the ones who are alive and doing stuff today. Yeah,
and yeah, you can find a Better Offline dot com.
You find it on iHeartRadio or wherever you get in
your podcasts.

Speaker 1 (01:05:11):
Hell, yeah you can, and you can find us on
Thursday or we'll be continuing the Steve Jobs story. Goodbye, Goodbye.

Speaker 3 (01:05:25):
Behind the Bastards is a production of cool Zone Media.
For more from cool Zone Media, visit our website cool
Zonemedia dot com or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
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