ACID HEAD: Steve Jobs had a high opinion of LSD. Picture: Getty images
Steve Jobs smelled so foul that none of his co-workers at Atari in the ’70s would work with him.
Begging him to shower was usually futile; he’d inevitably claim that his strict vegan diet had rid him of body odour, thus absolving him of the need for standard hygiene habits.
Later, friends would theorise that he had been exercising what would prove to be a limitless capacity for sustained and gratuitous lying, which came to be nicknamed the “reality distortion field”.
Jobs originally learned the “reality distortion field” from Bob Friedland, an enterprising hippie he met by chance one day when he returned early to his dorm room and found Friedland having sex with his (Jobs’s) girlfriend.
Like Steve, Bob would eventually become a billionaire, just in the mining business. His followers would often invoke his old drug dealer nickname “Toxic Bob”, after he did two years in jail for peddling LSD.
Steve Jobs needed no nickname. As the title of his definitive biography reminds, Steve Jobs speaks for itself. His name was his essence, what set him apart even among greats like Einstein and Kissinger, iconic figures with whom he shared a biographer, Walter Isaacson.
Steve Jobs the book is very much a product of its time, which is to say, a product of its subject’s fastidious narcissism and the broader culture’s limitless capacity for nurturing it.
With any luck future generations will saddle Steve Jobs, the brand, with the blemish of all the jobs a once-great nation relinquished because of brand-name billionaires like Jobs. Arriving in stores all of a fortnight after his death, the book was instantly deemed by the New York Times as “clear, elegant and concise enough to qualify as an iBio”.
In truth, the book is the antithesis of concise. Surely Isaacson might have dropped some of the 92 references to Bob Dylan. Sometimes the repetition serves a purpose: LSD, referred to 33 times, was clearly important to Jobs.
“How many of you have taken LSD?” Jobs taunted an audience of Stanford business school students.
“Are you a virgin? How many times have you taken LSD?” he demanded of an Apple interviewee.
Bill Gates would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid” and tripping was “one of the two or three most important things he’d done in his life”.
In the binary world within Steve’s reality, having consumed LSD was the key determinant of whether a colleague or employee was deemed “enlightened” or “an asshole”.
To iSummarise, Steve Jobs had a litmus test for evaluating workers: It was a lot like a literal litmus test.
Steve never learnt to program computers but he was skilled at manipulating people. He wooed all manner of women who were too good for him, such as Joan Baez, only to discard them so thoughtlessly it seems like a joke.
According to Baez, he experienced a “fervour of delight” while demonstrating a computer programmed to play a Brahms quartet, and explaining that future generations of computer orchestras would sound better than humans. – Reuters