Biography: Steve Jobs

Learn About Steve Jobs: Co-Founder of Apple Computers

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Steve Jobs 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.

Early Life

Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in Los Altos California. 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 as the future founders of Apple teamed up to design games for Atari computers.

Hacking

Jobs and Wozniak also proved their chops 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

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.

During the early 80's, 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 things at Apple got a little rotten, 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 recent retirement in 2011.

The NeXT was an amazing 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 graphic hardware developer, but that goal was not well achieved. Pixar moved on to do what it now does best, which is make animated films. Jobs negotiated for 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 return 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.

Steve Jobs Quotes

"Woz[niak] was the first person I met who knew more about electronics than I did."

"A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets."

"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."

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Bellis, Mary. "Biography: Steve Jobs." ThoughtCo, Sep. 30, 2017, thoughtco.com/steve-jobs-biography-1991928. Bellis, Mary. (2017, September 30). Biography: Steve Jobs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/steve-jobs-biography-1991928 Bellis, Mary. "Biography: Steve Jobs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/steve-jobs-biography-1991928 (accessed November 24, 2017).