I think we have all heard the news that Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence from Apple due to health concerns.  While we send him our good wishes, I thought it would be nice to take a moment and learn about the man who helped found Apple.

Steve Jobs was born February 24th 1955 in San Fransisco and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.  He attended high school in Cupertino, Ca and often attended after school lectures at the Hewlett Packard Company in Palo Alto, Ca.  He was hired to work at Hewlett Packard during the summer and there he met future Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak.

Steve Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon but dropped out after one semester.  Even though he had dropped out he continued to attend classes although he didn’t receive credit.  One of those classes was a calligraphy class, of which he has said, “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts”.

After spending two years in Portland he returned to California and his friend Steve Wozniak.  The two attended meetings of a group called Homebrew Computer Club.  He worked as a technician at Atari to save money for a spiritual retreat in India which he later took with Steve Wozniak and a friend from Reed College named Daniel Kottke.  Daniel later became the first Apple employee.

After the trip to India Steve returned to his job at Atari and began redesigning the circuit board for the game Breakout (my most favorite Atari game ever!).  Atari offered a $100 bonus for each chip that could be reduced.  Steve Jobs had no interest or knowledge in circuit board design so he made a deal with his friend Steve Wozniak, who did not work for Atari.  He told Wozniak he would split the bonus with him if Wozniak would do the work.  Steve Wozniak agreed and eliminated 50 chips from the original design.  The board was so precise that it couldn’t be made on an assembly line.  Jobs was given the $5,000 bonus but told Wozniak that the bonus was only $600 and offered him a mere $300.

Finally, in 1974, Steve Jobs convinced Steve Wozniak to build a computer and sell it, thus founding Apple.  They received their funding from millionaire A.C. Marrkula.  The company began to expand at a rapid pace and in 1983 Jobs decided to hire an experienced CEO to manage the growth.  He approached John Sculley, the CEO of Pepsi, and asked, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water to children, or do you want a chance to change the world?”.  Sculley accepted the offer to change the world.

On January 24th 1984, the Macintosh was revealed at the annual shareholders meeting.  The scene has been described as “pandemonium”.  The Macintosh was the first commercially successful personal computer with a graphical user interface.

Steve Jobs was fired by Sculley just 16 month after the reveal of the Macintosh due to slumping sales and an internal power struggle.  Jobs went on to found another computer company called NeXT.  NeXT focused on experimental new technologies and marketed it’s computers to higher education and scientific fields.  His attention to the look of the products was considered obsessive.  The computers themselves were expensive and sales were slow.  So in 1993 the company transitioned fully to software with NeXTSTEP/Intel.

In the meantime, Steve Jobs bought a company called The Graphics Group from George Lucas for the discounted price of $5 million, plus another $5 million in capital for the company.  This was steal.  It’s reported that George Lucas needed money for his divorce and didn’t want to reduce his ownership in Star Wars.  The name was changed to Pixar and was originally intended to provide high end graphics hardware for computers but low sales turned the company towards making movies instead.  The company partnered with Disney and created such films as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and Wall-E.  In 1996, 10 years after Jobs bought the company, Disney purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion and Jobs became Disney’s largest personal shareholder.

Steve Jobs married Laurene Powell on March 18th, 1991.  They have 3 children together and he has one daughter from a previous relationship.

In 1996 NeXT was bought out by Apple for $429 million and Steve Jobs found himself back at Apple.  He has served as CEO since then.  Job’s first priority as CEO was to make the company profitable again.  He slashed projects and threw fear into the company.  Employees were afraid they would be next.  The software NeXTSTEP morphed into Mac OS X and sales began to rise with the introduction of the iMac.  The company went on to develop such items as the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone.  Steve Jobs has joked that he is going to start calling himself the iCEO. Appealing designs and strong branding have made the company what it is today.

In 2004 Steve Jobs announced that he had pancreatic cancer.  A procedure was done where the entire tumor was successfully removed but that didn’t stop media speculation about the state of Steve’s health.  The frenzy was not calmed by his refusal to answer questions about his health, stating it was a “private issue”.  On January 19th 2009, in an internal Apple memo, he announced a six month leave of absence stating he had “learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought”.  We wish him well, and await his return.

source: Wikipedia

Other Self Made Men in the series:
Warren Buffett
Henry Ford
Ingvar Kamprad
Sam Walton
Thomas Edison
Oprah Winfrey

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