Born in San Francisco in 1955, Steve Jobs was adopted and brought up in Mountain View, California, only learning of his biological parents in his 20s.
Paul Jobs would work in the garage on electronics with his adopted son – a brilliant yet often bored and sometimes disruptive schoolboy. While still at high school, he met his future business partner Steve Wozniak, then a university student. The two shared a love of electronics (particularly computer chips) and an independent attitude.
After leaving high school, Jobs joined Reed College in Portland, leaving after six months and eventually working as an Atari video game designer. He travelled in India before setting up Apple Computers with Wozniak in 1976, aged just 21.
The pair began the business in Steve’s family garage, selling a VW bus and a scientific calculator to do so.
By making their machines cheaper, smaller and more accessible for everyday users, the duo revolutionised the computer industry. Wozniak came up with the idea of a user-friendly PC series, with Jobs doing the marketing. In 1980, the enterprise went public.
Competition from IBM and a series of design flaws on some products led Jobs to leaving Apple in 1985. He returned as CEO in 1997, having founded and sold NeXT Inc. and bought the animation firm which became Pixar Studios.
Jobs is credited with revitalising Apple, with a new management team and clever products including the iMac. Stylish designs and strong branding ignited consumers’ imaginations.
Later products like the MacBook Air, iPod and iPhone changed the direction of modern technology and in 2008, iTunes was America’s second-largest music seller. In March 2017, Apple was valued at $750bn.
Jobs had a daughter with girlfriend Chrisann Brennan at 23. During the early 1990s, at Stanford Business School, he met Laurene Powell. They married and had three children.
In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with a rare, though operable form of pancreatic cancer. He postponed surgery for months while changing his diet and considering Eastern treatments. The tumour was removed the following year. Rumours about Jobs’ health circulated in 2009, focusing on his weight loss. His death in Palo Alto, aged just 56, was announced in October 2011.
A Prickly Genius
Far-sighted, fiercely private, perseverant and passionate, Jobs was a notoriously prickly creative genius driven by a strong belief in his products – yet he still had a sense of self-deprecating humour.
He could inspire or infuriate in equal measure, reportedly often ringing staff in the middle of the night. He could be abrasive, a perfectionist and egotistical, yet over time he matured into a highly capable leader. He was someone who fitted the mould of Apple’s Think Different campaign – “The one thing you can’t do is ignore them.”
Jobs was also known for his sharp put-downs and pithy sayings, among the most memorable of which are:
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed … saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.”
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