From the archives: Steve Jobs in his own words

60 Minutes profiled Tim Cook's predecessor, legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011, soon after his death

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When Tim Cook took the helm at Apple, he knew better than to try to supplant the late Steve Jobs. "This is Steve's company," Cook tells Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes this week. "This is still Steve's company. It was born that way, it's still that way. And so his spirit, I think, will always be the DNA of this company."

Cook says Jobs "had this incredible and uncanny ability to see around the corner" and a "relentless, driving force for perfection." But as 60 Minutes explored in the two-part 2011 profile above, produced by Graham Messick, Jobs' perfectionism could make him difficult to be around.

"He's not warm and fuzzy," biographer Walter Isaacson told Steve Kroft. "He was very petulant. He was very brittle. He could be very, very mean to people at times."

Isaacson was chosen by Jobs himself to write the book, and Jobs told him not to hold back. "I have no skeletons in my closet that can't be allowed out," Jobs said.


The resulting biography, published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS, is an intimate look at the tech titan, for which Isaacson interviewed more than a hundred of Jobs' friends, family members, co-workers and competitors. He also conducted more than 40 interviews with Jobs himself, some of which were tape recorded, and parts of those tapes were aired on 60 Minutes.

Isaacson delved, for instance, into Jobs' early childhood as an adopted child in Mountain View, California. Growing up there helped shape Jobs, Isaacson said. "He was raised in the place that was just learning how to turn silicon into gold," he said. "It had not yet been named Silicon Valley, but you had the defense industry, you had Hewlett-Packard. But you also had the counter-culture, the Bay Area. That entire brew came together in Steve Jobs. He was sort of a hippie-ish rebel kid, loved listening to Dylan music, dropped acid, but also he loved electronics."

After dropping out of college, working at Atari, and traveling around India for several months, Jobs became obsessed with making an attractive, simple, inexpensive computer. He teamed up with engineer Steve Wozniak, tinkering in his parents' garage, and created the Apple II, marketed as the first home computer.

Despite its limitations, technophiles snapped them up, and Jobs was soon worth millions of dollars. "I went from not worrying about money because I was pretty poor to not worrying about money because I had a lot of money," he told Isaacson.

But Jobs soon had other things to worry about. "He was not the world's greatest manager," Isaacson told Kroft. "In fact, he could've been one of the world's worst managers, you know? He was always, you know, upending things. And, you know, throwing things into turmoil. This made great products, but it didn't make for a great management style."

In 1985, Jobs was driven from his own company after a boardroom showdown with then-Apple president John Sculley. Jobs sold his stock and launched a new computer company, NeXT, and purchased a tiny company from George Lucas that became Pixar Studios. Pixar would eventually revolutionize movie animation and make Jobs a multi-billionaire.

Meanwhile, Apple was struggling. In 1997, the company purchased NeXT, bringing Jobs back as a consultant, and then as CEO. The rest, of course, is history. Apple went on to become the world's biggest and richest company after introducing a string of life-altering products - the iPod, iPhone, iPad - all designed to seamlessly interact.

But Jobs' own life was altered too, irrevocably, by pancreatic cancer. First diagnosed in 2003, he hid the extent of his illness from the public for years. Later, close to death, he told Isaacson he'd been thinking about God and a possible afterlife. But then he paused for a second, Isaacson recounted. "Yeah, but sometimes I think it's just like an on-off switch. Click and you're gone," he said, pausing again. "And that's why I don't like putting on-off switches on Apple devices."