Biography of Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple Computers

Steve Jobs Introduces OS X Lion

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Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955–October 5, 2011) is best remembered as the co-founder of Apple Computers, the makers of well-designed, well-coordinated and good-looking personal home computers. It was Jobs who teamed up with inventor Steve Wozniak to invent one of the first ready-made PCs.

Besides his legacy with Apple, Jobs was also a smart businessman who became a multimillionaire before the age of 30. In 1984, he founded NeXT computers. In 1986, he bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd. and started Pixar Animation Studios.

Fast Facts: Steve Jobs

  • Known For: Co-founding Apple Computer Inc. and playing a pioneering role in the development of personal computing
  • Also Known As: Steven Paul Jobs
  • Born: February 24, 1955, in San Francisco
  • Parents: Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble (biological parents); Paul Jobs and Clara Hagopian (adoptive parents)
  • Died: October 5, 2011, in Palo Alto, California
  • Education: Reed College
  • Awards and Honors:  National Medal of Technology (with Steve Wozniak), Jefferson Award for Public Service, named the most powerful person in business by Fortune magazine, Inducted into the California Hall of Fame, inducted as a Disney Legend
  • Spouse: Laurene Powell
  • Children: Lisa (by Chrisann Brennan), Reed, Erin, Eve
  • Notable Quote: "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."

Early Life

Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in Los Altos California. The biological child of Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble, he was later adopted by Paul Jobs and Clara Hagopian. During his high school years, Jobs worked summers at Hewlett-Packard and it was there that he first met and became partners with Steve Wozniak.

As an undergraduate, he studied physics, literature, and poetry at Reed College in Oregon. Jobs formally only attended only one semester at Reed College. However, he remained at Reed crashing on friend's sofas and auditing courses that included a calligraphy class, which he attributes as being the reason Apple computers had such elegant typefaces.

Atari

After leaving Oregon in 1974 to return to California, Jobs started working for Atari, an early pioneer in the manufacturing of personal computers. Jobs' close personal friend Wozniak was also working for Atari; the future founders of Apple teamed up to design games for Atari computers.

Hacking

Jobs and Wozniak proved their skills as hackers by designing a telephone blue box. A blue box was an electronic device that simulated a telephone operator's dialing console and provided the user with free phone calls. Jobs spent plenty of time at Wozniak's Homebrew Computer Club, a haven for computer geeks and a source of invaluable information about the field of personal computers.

Out of Mom and Pop's Garage

By the late 1970s, Jobs and Wozniak had learned enough to try their hand at building personal computers. Using Jobs' family garage as a base of operation, the team produced 50 fully assembled computers that were sold to a local Mountain View electronics store called the Byte Shop. The sale encouraged the pair to start the Apple Corporation on April 1, 1979.

Apple Corporation

The Apple Corporation was named after Jobs' favorite fruit. The Apple logo was a representation of the fruit with a bite taken out of it. The bite represented a play on words: bite and byte.

Jobs co-invented the Apple I and Apple II computers together with Wozniak (main designer) and others. The Apple II is considered to be one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers. In 1984, Wozniak, Jobs, and others co-invented the Apple Macintosh computer, the first successful home computer with a mouse-driven graphical user interface. It was, however, based on (or, according to some sources, stolen from) the Xerox Alto, a concept machine built at the Xerox PARC research facility. According to the Computer History Museum, the Alto included::

A mouse. Removable data storage. Networking. A visual user interface. Easy-to-use graphics software. “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) printing, with printed documents matching what users saw on screen. E-mail. Alto for the first time combined these and other now-familiar elements in one small computer.

During the early 80s, Jobs controlled the business side of the Apple Corporation and Steve Wozniak, the design side. However, a power struggle with the board of directors led to Jobs leaving Apple.

NeXT

After leaving Apple, Jobs founded NeXT, a high-end computer company. Ironically, Apple bought NeXT in 1996, and Jobs returned to Apple to serve once more as its CEO from 1997 until his retirement in 2011.

The NeXT was an impressive workstation computer that sold poorly. The world's first web browser was created on a NeXT, and the technology in NeXT software was transferred to the Macintosh and the iPhone.

Disney Pixar

In 1986, Jobs bought "The Graphics Group" from Lucasfilm's computer graphics division for 10 million dollars. The company was later renamed Pixar. At first, Jobs intended for Pixar to become a high-end graphics hardware developer, but that goal was never met. Pixar moved on to do what it now does best, which is to make animated films. Jobs negotiated a deal to allow Pixar and Disney to collaborate on a number of animated projects that included the film "Toy Story." In 2006, Disney bought Pixar from Jobs.

Expanding Apple

After Jobs returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, Apple Computers had a renaissance in product development with the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and more.

Before his death, Jobs was listed as the inventor and/or co-inventor on 342 United States patents, with technologies ranging from computer and portable devices to user interfaces, speakers, keyboards, power adapters, staircases, clasps, sleeves, lanyards, and packages. His last patent was issued for the Mac OS X Dock user interface and was granted the day before his death.

Death

Steve Jobs died at his home in Palo Alto, California, on October 5, 2011. He had been ill for a long time as a result of pancreatic cancer which he had treated using "alternative" techniques. His family reported that his final words were "oh wow!"

Legacy

Steve Jobs was a true computer pioneer and entrepreneur whose impact is felt in almost every aspect of contemporary business, communication, and design. Jobs was absolutely dedicated to every detail of his products—according to some sources he was obsessive—but the outcome can be seen in the sleek, user-friendly, future-facing designs of Apple products from the very start. It was Apple that placed the PC on every desk, provided digital tools for design and creativity, and pushed forward the ubiquitous smartphone which has, arguably, changed the ways in which human beings think, create, and interact.

Sources

  • Computer History Museum. "What Was The First PC?" www.computerhistory.org/revolution/input-output/14/347.
  • Gladwell, Malcolm, and Malcolm Gladwell. “The Real Genius of Steve Jobs.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/11/14/the-tweaker.
  • Levy, Steven. “Steve Jobs.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 Feb. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Steve-Jobs.