Steve Jobs, the cofounder of Apple, was a man of contradictions. He was known as the Father of the Digital Revolution, but he knew more about calligraphy than circuit boards. He was a Buddhist, but he exhibited some questionable ethics. He valued innovation and design, but he wore the same outfit every day. He cared little for money, but he amassed a huge fortune. How did this unique combination of traits enable Steve Jobs to change the world?
Microsoft has had two goals in the last 10 years. One was to copy the Mac, and the other was to copy Lotus' success in the spreadsheet - basically, the applications business. And over the course of the last 10 years, Microsoft accomplished both of those goals. And now they are completely lost.
When American-born Joanne Carole Schieble learned that she was pregnant, in 1954, her fundamentalist father would not allow her to marry the baby's father, Syrian-born Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, so the young couple decided they would put their baby up for adoption. Their one stipulation was that the adoptive parents must be college-educated. Prospects Paul and Clara Jobs were not college-educated, but they promised Schieble and Jandali that they would send the baby to college. When the baby was born, on February 24, 1955, he was named Steven Paul Jobs, taking the surname of his adoptive parents.
Carole Schieble's father died soon after. She and John Jandali married and later gave birth to another child, Mona Simpson. Jobs would reunite with his sister in the 1980s.
Steve Jobs grew up in Mountain View, California, within the area that would later be known as Silicon Valley. His father, a mechanic, ignited Jobs' interest in electronics by showing him how to take apart and rebuild radios and televisions. His mother, a payroll clerk, taught him how to read before he started school.
Young Jobs, an intelligent boy who was probably bored in elementary school, played many pranks. School officials thought he should skip ahead two grades, but his parents thought skipping only one year was a better option.
Jobs attended junior high and high school in Cupertino, California. He became friends with Bill Fernandez, who was also interested in electronics. Fernandez and another friend, Steve Wozniak, built a computer they called Cream Soda in 1969, then showed it to Jobs. This was Jobs' first introduction to the world of computer technology. He later said, "I met Woz when I was 13, at a friend's garage. He was about 18. He was, like, the first person I met who knew more electronics than I did at that point. We became good friends, because we shared an interest in computers and we had a sense of humor. We pulled all kinds of pranks together."
In 1972 Jobs graduated from high school and began attending Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He soon determined that he wasn't cut out for the standard college curriculum, plus he realized that his parents were spending their life savings to send him to an expensive school, so he dropped out after six months.
For the following eighteen months, Jobs hung around Reed College, sleeping in friends' dorm rooms, collecting Coke bottles for money, and taking free meals at a local Hare Krishna temple. He audited classes that interested him, notably a calligraphy class. While studying calligraphy, Jobs learned about serif and sans serif characters, the art of properly spacing letters, and the beauty of various alphabets. This experience would later influence the development of the Macintosh computer.
Steve Wozniak, known as Woz, built a version of the video game "Pong" in 1972. Jobs took the game to Atari, neglecting to mention that he was not the builder, and he was hired as a technician.
Atari technicians showed Jobs the circuit board design for a new game, "Breakout," and offered him $100 for each chip he could eliminate without affecting the game. Jobs was not equipped for the task, so he asked Woz to help him in exchange for half of the money. Woz reduced the chip count by 50, a feat that amazed Atari engineers. Jobs received $5,000, per their agreement, but he gave Woz a mere $350, saying he had only been paid $700. Years later, when Woz learned the truth, he said if he knew Jobs had needed the money, he would have given it to him.
In 1974, Jobs traveled to India for spiritual enlightenment. He started practicing Zen Buddhism and explored counterculture activities. He would later state that people who didn't share his countercultural roots could not fully relate to his thinking. He said, "If you're gonna make connections which are innovative... you have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does." After seven months, he returned to the U.S. with a shaved head and Indian clothing. His parents did not recognize him when they picked him up at the airport.
Jobs, Woz, and a third partner named Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computers in 1976, headquartered in Jobs' parents' garage, in order to sell a computer Woz had invented. Initial funding came from the sale of Jobs' VW bus and Woz' scientific calculator. Ronald Wayne left the company after a couple of weeks, and additional funding came from Mike Markkula, an Intel engineer.
That first computer was dubbed the Apple I. The name Apple was inspired by happy memories of summer jobs working in apple orchards. Jobs explained, "Apple took the edge off the word 'computer.'" The Apple II followed in 1977, and by the following year the company was large enough to recruit Mike Scott from National Semiconductor to be the Apple CEO. 1980 brought the Apple III and publicly traded stock.
In a few short years, Jobs had come a long way from collecting empty soda bottles for cash, but money was not his focus. He would later reflect, "When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn't going to let it ruin my life. There's no way you could ever spend it all, and I don't view wealth as something that validates my intelligence."
In 1982 Apple was named the "Time Magazine" Machine of the Year; in 1983 Jobs recruited Pepsi CEO John Scully to be the new CEO of Apple.
In 1983, Apple released the Apple Lisa computer. But who was Lisa? The official answer to that question was that Lisa stood for Local Integrated Software Architecture. However, there is another, more personal, answer.
Back in 1972, Jobs met his first girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan. The two had an on-and-off relationship until 1977, and Brennan gave birth to a baby girl in 1978. For many years, Jobs refused to acknowledge Lisa as his daughter, even claiming in court that he was sterile. Lisa was raised on welfare. Eventually, however, Jobs had a change of heart, and the name on Lisa's birth certificate was changed from Brennan to Brennan-Jobs. She moved in with the Jobs family when she was a teenager. Jobs later admitted, "I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, such as getting my girlfriend pregnant when I was 23 and the way I handled that."
In January of 1984, Jobs introduced a new computer, the Macintosh, to Apple shareholders. The machine was marketed as something different - countercultural and creative. Jobs later explained, "Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians. They also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world. But if it hadn't been computer science, these people would have been doing amazing things in other fields."
The Macintosh featured proportional fonts in a variety of styles, pleasing to the eye and artistic, resembling professional typography rather than fixed-width characters as produced by a typewriter. Jobs was inspired to include this innovation because of the calligraphy class he had audited years before. "It was the first computer with beautiful typography," said Jobs. "If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them."
Unfortunately, such innovation troubled Apple's CEO, Scully. He thought Jobs was wrong in choosing to shun IBM compatibility. Additionally, Scully had received complaints that Jobs often held meetings until after midnight, then expected everyone to reconvene at 7:00 AM the following morning. As a result, Scully started working to phase Jobs out. By 1985, Jobs was stripped of his managerial duties; he soon resigned.
Jobs founded NeXT Inc., a company creating technology for the educational sector, in 1985. The first NeXT workstation, released in 1990, was too expensive for its intended users at $9,999. However, other products aimed at the financial and scientific communities fared better. In fact, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web at CERN, using a NeXT computer.
NeXT transitioned to the development of software only, releasing NeXTSTEP/Intel and WebObjects. Jobs earned a spot on "Fortune" magazine's list of America's Toughest Bosses while at NeXT.
In 1986 Jobs acquired The Graphics Group, the computer graphics division of Lucasfilms, from George Lucas. The company, which Jobs renamed Pixar, would produce an impressive catalog of computer-animated films, starting with "Toy Story." When Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, in an all-stock transaction, Jobs became the largest single shareholder of Disney stock.
In retrospect, Jobs was glad that he had parted ways with Apple and explored other avenues. He said, "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."
In 1996, Apple was struggling with an inadequate operating system. Despite past history, Apple turned to Jobs and NeXT for help. Apple bought NeXT from Jobs for $427 million and reinstated Jobs as a consultant. The NeXTSTEP platform became the foundation for Mac OS-X. WebObjects was later used to design the Apple Store, MobileMe, and the iTunes Store.
In 1997 Jobs was named interim CEO of Apple, at a salary of just $1 per year. He would continue to draw that less-than-minimum-wage salary for the remainder of his life - but he owned 5 million shares of Apple stock, which was more than enough to keep him comfortable.
Under Job's leadership, Apple abandoned some foundering projects and drove manufacturers of Macintosh clones out of business. He trimmed the staff, causing some employees to avoid crossing paths with him out of paranoia.
Jobs became the CEO of Apple in 2000, dropping "interim." At the Macworld Expo that year, he joked that he was the iCEO.
Jobs married Laurene Powell in 1991. Their ceremony was performed by Kobun Chino Otogawa, a Zen Buddhist monk. Guests were served a vegan cake in the shape of Yosemite's Half Dome. Several months later, their son Reed was born. They also had two daughters, Erin and Eve.
Jobs was diagnosed with a rare but operable form of pancreatic cancer in 2003. For nine months he resisted standard medical treatment, preferring a special dietary regimen. By the time he relented and had the recommended surgery, his condition had worsened, possibly leading to an earlier death.
Jobs' wife, a vegan like him, began adding fish and other proteins to meals in an attempt to help him recover. He was terribly picky about what he ate, however, after years of veganism, fasting, purging, and cleansing. He would evaluate a line-up of seven or eight smoothies, taking small tastes in the hope of finding one that might satisfy. His doctor finally advised him to stop thinking of edibles as food, but rather as medicine.
Jobs continued his duties at Apple, notably announcing the latest gadgets to stockholders and the press. Media buzzed with reports about his health, including an obituary mistakenly published by "Bloomberg" in 2008, featuring blank spaces for adding the specifics of his death.
In 2009 Jobs released an open letter to the public, explaining his weight loss as the result of a hormone imbalance. He received a liver transplant but continued to decline. Jobs said, "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."
His final public appearance came on June 7, 2011, when he presented plans for a new corporate facility. Jobs resigned from Apple in August of 2011, causing a five percent drop in Apple stock.
On October 5, 2011, Jobs died of respiratory arrest in Palo Alto, California. On that same day he was granted a patent for the Mac OS X Dock user interface with a magnification feature.
Creative types generally have unique world views and unusual habits. Steve Jobs was no exception.
A devoted vegan, Jobs once gave out carrot juice to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
He was famous for wearing the same outfit every day: a black mock turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers. Originally the Japanese designer, Issey Miyake, created about 100 black turtlenecks; over the years he would order about two dozen per year from St. Croix.
Jobs was inspired by the fact that Japanese companies, after World War II, provided their workers with uniforms because they had few clothes and also because uniforms encouraged teamwork. Jobs asked designer Issey Miyake to create a uniform to unify his employees at Apple, but those employees booed Jobs off the stage when he presented Miyake's nylon jacket with detachable sleeves.
While at Atari, Jobs was moved to the night shift, due to complaints about his hygiene. He rarely showered and often walked around barefoot. He believed - at the time, at least - that a fruit-heavy diet reduced body odor.
Jobs once applied - unsuccessfully - to be a civilian astronaut on the space shuttle.
Jobs used a loophole in California law to avoid putting license plates on his car. The law provided a six-month grace period for attaching plates on a new vehicle, so Jobs leased a new, yet identical, Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG every six months. The law was later changed, in 2012, reducing the grace period to 90 days.
Jobs is listed as primary inventor or co-inventor on 346 patents or patent applications, all related to technology, but often his input was related to the look and feel of a product rather than how it worked. While in the hospital, he sketched ideas for a device to hold an iPad in a hospital bed and a redesign for the oxygen monitor on his finger.
The impact of Steve Jobs on society is immeasurable - a good percentage of the world's population cannot recall a time without Macs, iPhones, and iTunes. He came along at the right time. He once said, "Of all the inventions of humans, the computer is going to rank near or at the top as history unfolds and we look back. It is the most awesome tool that we have ever invented. I feel incredibly lucky to be at exactly the right place in Silicon Valley, at exactly the right time, historically, where this invention has taken form."
Technology will move on, beyond the limits of anything Steve Jobs imagined, but much of that technology will be built on a foundation he helped to establish.
On October 14, 2011, many observed Black Turtleneck Friday in Jobs' honor. In 2012, "Fortune" named him the greatest entrepreneur of our time.
Steve Jobs' last words, according to his sister, were, "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." The world will never know what the famous visionary saw or imagined in the final moments of his life.