Steve Jobs: A Biography
Steve Jobs was a pioneer in consumer computers and electronics and was often referred to as the Father of the Digital Revolution because of his work on the iPhone, Mac, iPod, and other devices. Although he would eventually become one of the most recognizable faces in the tech industry and a household name in many countries, he came from very humble beginnings.
Jobs was born on Feb. 24, 1955, to Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Carole Schieble, who were not wed at the time of his birth. Joanne's parents objected to her relationship with Jandali, who was a Syrian teaching in Wisconsin. They chose to give the baby up for adoption to Paul and Clara Jobs with the proviso that the couple, neither of whom had graduated college, would encourage the boy to get an advanced education.
Jobs grew up in Mountain View, California tinkering with electronics in his family's garage. Paul and Clara, whom Jobs always considered to be his real parents, had a good dual income but didn't have much money to send their son, who had already skipped one grade in school because of his intelligence, to college. After graduating from Homestead High School, Steve Jobs enrolled in Reed College, but it was too expensive and his parents' life savings were withering away. He dropped out after one semester in 1972 and instead audited classes while sleeping on the floors of friends' dorm rooms and recycling glass to earn money for food.
In 1973, Jobs returned to California and took a job at Atari, a company that made video games. He took a leave of absence after just a few months to travel to India in order to find some spiritual guidance that he felt was lacking in California. After several months traveling the country, he returned to his job at Atari and began asking his friend Steve Wozniak, who did not work for Atari, for help doing some of his work there. They two become closer and started dreaming up devices and computers that they would make in their spare time.
Wozniak was a computer genius and built the very first Apple computer, called the Apple I, in 1976. Jobs, whose computer knowledge was growing by the day, encouraged Wozniak, or "Woz" as he was called, to sell the computer and start the Apple Computer Company out of his parents' garage. With some funding from an ex-Intel executive, they began hiring high-ranking employees away from other tech companies in the Bay Area and even poached Pepsi's CEO to help run the company. By the early 1980s, the company was growing and the first in a long line of Macintosh computers was born.
Jobs had a dispute with the board of Apple in the mid-1980s and stepped down, forming his own software and tech company. A decade later, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy, so Jobs returned to shore things up and eventually become the CEO. It was after his return to the company that he started thinking about electronics beyond the computer and about how to manage and use digital data. His first foray into this new arena was the hugely success iPod, which allowed users to store hundreds or even thousands of songs on a single small device. Later versions of the device would allow for the storage of pictures and video as well.
Apple was now flush in cash from the iPod, so it went full speed ahead with other ventures, including iTunes, which would allow users to buy songs, movies, TV episodes, podcasts, and other digital media. The iPhone came soon after, allowing consumers to have a phone, iPod, digital camera, and application software stored on one device. It was like nothing else on the market, and it made billions for Apple. In another successful venture, Jobs introduced the iPad, a tablet computer that was much lighter and easier to transport than a traditional notebook computer.
Jobs either dreamed up or oversaw the production of each of these products, which is what earned him his status as a visionary. With all that work, it's hard to believe that he had a chance to have a relationship, but he was happily married since 1991 to wife Laurene, with whom he had three children. He also had one child from a previous relationship and had even managed to find and form a bond with his biological sister, writer Mona Simpson.
In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that would eventually claim his life. Though he had a tumor successfully removed in 2004, rumors of poor health dogged him until 2011, when he abruptly stepped down as CEO of Apple. On October 5 of that year, he died due to complications from his cancer, which had come back after being in remission. He was just 56 years old and left behind a legacy that Apple is still building on today.