There’s no exaggeration in calling him a living legend. This man has revolutionized the personal computer industry and is still behind some of the most successful electronic products in the world today. But above all that, he is also a great example of resilience, the living proof that success is only obtained through hard work and determination.
Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco to Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Simpson. His mother put him up for adoption when he was only one week old, and his new parents (Paul and Clara Jobs) named him Steven Paul. His adoptive parents later took another baby under their roof, this time a girl that they called Patti. Jobs’ biological parents later got married and had a daughter, Steve’s biological sister named Mona Simpson, a novelist. Steve and Mona only met in adulthood, but they now have a close relationship.
When Jobs’ biological parents had their first child – Steve – they were only students. Later, Abdulfattah Jandali became a political science professor and Joanne Simpson became a speech language pathologist. The fascinating thing about their children’s story is that even though Steve and Mona grew up in totally different circumstances, they both turned out to be very successful and they even managed to become very close friends.
Steve’s biological parents wanted to make sure that their son would receive a higher education, so the Jobs family promised them that they would send the boy to college. Consequently, after graduating Cupertino Junior High School and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, (1972) Steve went on to study at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, his adoptive parents were not rich enough to ensure him the best conditions at college and Steve resorted to returning Coke bottles for money (mainly to buy food), got free meals at a Hare Krishna temple nearby and slept in friends’ dorm rooms, on the floor. He dropped out of Reed after just one semester, but continued to audit different classes.
One class that he continued to attend was calligraphy, a course that has later proven to be of great help to him when he developed the Mac computer. “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts”, said Jobs, adding that “since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them”. This he said in an inspirational speech before Stanford graduates in 2005.
Before going to college, Steve used to frequently attend some after-school lectures held by Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto. After impressing the company’s president with a bold request (he asked for some parts that he needed for a class project), Steve Jobs was offered a summer internship at HP. Here he worked with Steve Wozniak, his friend who later became the co-founder of Apple. In 1974 the two friends joined the Homebrew Computer Club (a computer hobbyist club in Silicon Valley) and got hired at Atari, a video games manufacturer. While working here Steve raised money for a spiritual trip that he wanted to take to India.
In his search for spiritual enlightenment he was accompanied by a friend from Reed College, Daniel Kottke. Kottke later became the first Apple employee. When Steve returned from his journey, his head was shaved and he wore traditional Indian clothes, just like a Buddhist. Atari took him back and asked him to create a circuit board for Breakout, a 1970s arcade game. Because he didn’t have enough knowledge for the task, Steve turned to his friend Wozniak, promising that they would split the money evenly. Wozniak did the job impeccably, and Atari paid Jobs $5,000. But when the time came for Jobs to give Wozniak his share, he said he had only received $700, thus giving his friend only $350.
This incident however didn’t tear their friendship apart and later, in 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne established the Apple Computer Inc. Jobs had noticed Wozniak’s talent and passion for building computers and he believed that they could do great things together. Today it’s obvious that he was right. Their company is allegedly named after Steve’s favorite fruit and the logo shows a bitten apple, playing on the word “byte”.
In 1983, Steve convinced John Sculley to leave Pepsi Cola and join his company, asking “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”. Sculley became Apple’s CEO and two years later he determined Steve to leave the company that he had founded. By this time Jobs had already brought the first Macintosh to this world, revolutionizing personal computers: it was the first commercially successful PC with a graphical user interface, using a mouse to click on little drawings called icons.
But even though he had to leave Apple, Steve Jobs did not give up on his dreams. He started NeXT Computer, a new company that manufactured technologically advanced products. The only problem about the NeXT computers was their prohibitive cost. Consequently, the company focused on software development. Later (in 1996) Apple bought NeXT and welcomed Jobs back into the company.
Before this however, in 1986, Steve bought Pixar (back then called The Graphics Group) from Lucasfilm for $10 million. Together with Disney, Pixar created a series of incredibly successful animated movies, the first of which was “Toy Story”, released in 1995. Following its big success came “A Bug’s Life”, “Toy Story 2”, “Monsters, Inc.”, “Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles”, “Cars”, “Ratatouille”, “WALL-E”, “Up” and “Toy Story 3”. Five of these movies received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Soon after returning to Apple, Steve Jobs became the interim CEO of the company and gained a reputation as an unpredictable authority figure who fired people out of nowhere. Actually, there were only a few cases of “spontaneous” dismissals, all done in an effort to return Apple to profitability. But these few abruptly terminated projects were enough to make all employees feel afraid of encountering Jobs in the elevator.
In 2000, at the Macworld Expo, Steve officially became the permanent CEO of the company and he even quipped that he would start using a new title, that of iCEO. As time passed, Apple started branching out, introducing new digital appliances like iPods, iPhones and iPads. According to Jobs himself, “We started out to get a computer in the hands of everyday people, and we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams”.
Now a little something on Steve Jobs’ personal life. In March 1991, he married Laurene Powell before a Zen Buddhist monk, Kobun Chino Otogawa. Together they have three children, but Jobs also has another daughter with Chris-Ann Brennan, a painter from the Bay Area.
In 2004 Jobs was diagnosed with cancer in his pancreas. Fortunately, he suffered from a rare, less aggressive type of cancer (an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor). After he had the tumor successfully removed, jobs apparently didn’t need radiation therapy or chemotherapy. When in August 2006 he made a public appearance as the new, thin Steve Jobs, there were a lot of speculations regarding his health. During the following years some believed that his cancer had kicked in again. Then in 2008 Bloomberg published an obituary of Jobs by mistake. It was quite a morbid mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.
In April 2009 Jobs needed a liver transplant and the intervention took place in Memphis, Tennessee at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute. One and a half years after this event, Steve announced that he would take a medical leave of absence to “focus on his health”. Even though Tim Cook was left in charge of all day-to-day operations, Steve kept his pivotal role in the company’s major strategic decisions.
As a conclusion, we truly admire Steve Jobs for his determination, for how he never gave up when business or health circumstances were discouraging and for how much he managed to accomplish in a single lifetime. He is now the 110th richest man in the world, having an estimated net worth of $8.3 billion. About his wealth he once declared “I’ve never really cared about money that much.” So why did he get into this business? Here is what he once told Fortune: “I was lucky to get into computers when it was a very young and idealistic industry. There weren’t many degrees offered in computer science, so people in computers were brilliant people from mathematics, physics, music, zoology, whatever. They loved it, and no one was really in it for the money”. We are sure though that he doesn’t mind being so rich either.