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While writing the book, Mr. Isaacson said he came to understand the connection between Jobs‘ temperamental behavior and his artistic passion.

“I have a strong emotional respect for Steve,” he said. “And it helped me put in perspective … the tales of him being hard on people. Because I knew it was all in the context of getting people to do the impossible. Which he did.”

Mr. Isaacson didn’t spend time shadowing Jobs, though he did spend an afternoon at the design studio of Jony Ive, the chief designer at Apple who worked on the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. It was Mr. Ive who came up with the idea of making the first iPod, including its headphones, pure white. In the afternoons, Mr. Isaacson said, Jobs would walk around Mr. Ive’s studio and touch all the new prototypes that were laid out there.

“He was a very tactile person,” Mr. Isaacson said. “He loved to fondle the prototypes.”

Mr. Isaacson spent a long afternoon in that studio and doing so “realized what a serene experience it was. Quiet, with new-age jazz playing softly. The leaves from the trees outside casting dancing silhouette shadows on the tinted windows. And even small products like power adapters being lined up for inspections.”

Can Apple continue to thrive without Jobs?

“Yeah, I think that his great creation was not any one product but a company in which creativity was connected to great engineering,” Mr. Isaacson said. “And that will survive at least while the current people who trained under Steve are there.”