We have the perfect opportunity to read lots right now (as long as you don’t have small children demanding your attention). Why not swat up on the history of Apple and the people behind the company? In this article we have recommendations of books to read about Apple’s Steve Jobs and his co-founder Steve Wozniak, biographies of designer Jony Ive and current CEO Tim Cook, and the best guides to the impact Apple had on the computing revolution.
This biography by Water Isaacson was published shortly after Jobs death in 2011. Isaacson has the accolade of being Jobs’ exclusive official biographer and was granted more than 40 interviews with Jobs and interviewed more than 100 of Jobs colleagues, family members and friends. Crucially Jobs gave his full corporation to the book and didn’t even request that he should read it before publication, as a result when it was published the book gave us a real insight to what Steve Jobs really thought.
In many ways this book is the opposite of the one above, but it’s no less personal. Small Fry is written by Steve Job’s first daughter (the one he initially claimed wasn’t his) Lisa Brennan-Jobs. This book is less about Jobs work and more about his personality. Brennan-Jobs is a writer by trade and this is her story.
The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life with Steve Jobs
Jobs’ daughter isn’t the only one to have written about her father. Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s mother, Chrisann Brennan has also written about her relationship with Steve Jobs. Given that Jobs treated Brennan cruelly it’s no surprise that the book isn’t gushing in its depiction of Jobs, but it does offer an interesting insight into his character in Apple’s formative years.
iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It
This is the autobiography of Steve Wozniak the other founder of Apple. It was published in 2006 and is a good, easy read that tell Woz’s story, recounting his childhood and how he met Steve Jobs. Remember that Woz left Apple pretty early on though so you won’t learn much about more recent events at Apple.
Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac was Made
We’re still in the early days of Apple here with this book by Andy Hertzfeld who was one of the original members of the Macintosh development team. He tells the story of the development of the Macintosh up until its launch in 1984.
The Second Coming of Steve Jobs
Published in 2001 this book looks at Steve Jobs’ return to Apple after being ousted from the company he founded 12 years previously. The author, Alan Deutschman, discusses how Jobs was responsible for one of the biggest turnarounds in business history when he transformed Apple from a company haemorrhaging money into one making hundreds of millions in profits.
Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything
This is another look at the Macintosh although this time the author (well known technology writer Steven Levy is currently the Editor at Large for Wired) takes the story beyond the launch of the original Macintosh. It was published in 1994 but there’s a newer edition that include updates and a transcript of an interview with Steve Jobs (newer editions have an image of the iMac on the cover).
It's £3.49 on Apple's Book Store.
Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition and Still Can't Get a Date
This book by Robert X. Cringely was the inspiration for the Channel 4/PBS series “The Triumph of the Nerds”. It’s not just about Apple, it’s about all the characters behind the computer revolution. It was published back in 1996. More recently in 2012 an interview given by Steve Jobs for “The Triumph of the Nerds” was released as “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview”. Read about these documentaries about Steve Jobs here.
There’s no eBook version but you can buy the paperback at Amazon here.
Insanely Simple - The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success
Ken Segall was the creative director of Apple’s ad agency when Jobs returned to Apple and he worked with Jobs on the launch of the iMac and campaigns like the Think Different campaign. His book discusses the simple thinking behind Apple’s marketing.
Leander Kahney (previously of Wired) has published a few biographies of Apple personnel (as you will see if you read on). We’ll start with Tim Cook, which sees Kahney describe the achievements of Cook since he took the helm at Apple from Steve Jobs before Jobs’ death.
Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
Also by Leander Kahney, this biography of Apple’s designer (until he left in 2019) Jony Ive was published in 2013 and describes how Ive went from being a scruffy guy from the UK to the most important person at Apple.
For more History of Apple read our guide here.