Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. ~ Steve Jobs
Steve was born on the 24th of February, 1955, in San Francisco, to two college students, Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali. The two were not married at the time and therefore, had to give him up for adoption due to financial stress and parental pressure. He was then adopted by Paul Reinhold Jobs and Clara Jobs, from whom he got his official name, Steven Paul Jobs.
The Jobs family then moved to California when Steve was 5, where they adopted Patti who became Steve's sister. This is where the stage was set for Steve's affection and learning curve for technology. His father would show him how to dismantle home electronic appliances like radios and TVs. He would tell him what the parts inside were called, what they did and how they worked together. Soon Steve began to do it by himself.
While pursuing electronics as a growing hobby and attending Homestead High School at Cupertino, he got the chance to become friends with a neighbor, Bill Fernandez. Bill later became the first employee to work at Apple Computer. It was Bill who introduced Jobs to Steve Wozniak, what is now known to be quite the revolutionary partnership. Wozniak was working at Hewlett Packard in the summer of 1970. He decided to quit so Jobs and him would make and sell their own computers. Steve had the idea of creating a computer on a single printed circuit board. This may be child's play in today's tech world, but at the time, it was considered ambition, over-achieving even. Wozniak finished his work on the Apple I (the OS, the circuit board and the hardware).
Till 1974, Jobs had already dropped out of Reed College, Portland, and was working with Atari on their game chips. He was friends with Daniel Kottke as both were students at Reed College. Now you have two 18 year-old teenagers who could make and save up some money, living while the 60s were still fresh in everyone's minds. Being in the slump that he was at, with the hippie culture not too far behind, he decided to go to India and meet Neem Karoli Baba, a devotee of the Hindu deity Hanuman. He was quite popular among American travelers and enlightenment seekers. Jobs and Kottke decided it was worth visiting him once and look for spiritual guidance. Unfortunately, he had already passed away before Jobs and Kottke set foot on Indian soil. They then decided to meet Hariakhan Baba.
He stayed in India for seven months, which made him change the way he saw life and the way he dressed. He shaved his head and kept his beard, wore loose clothes, went on long periods of fasting, ate nothing but fruits (possibly his favorite one could have been the apple) and also tried primal scream therapy.
He still remained fascinated by technology, but started to realize the importance of appearances and the ability to sell something to a consumer. This was almost fully realized by the time Woz and Steve tried selling Apple I later on.
On returning from India, Steve went back to working for Atari. He was given the project of building circuit boards for their game Breakout. At the time Steve knew too little about building circuit boards and therefore acquired help from Wozniak. As the story goes, Steve was offered $100 for every chip he eliminated from the circuit board, which he knew Wozniak had a knack for (efficiently reducing hardware inputs to increase processing speed). He agreed to split the profit 50-50 with him. Now, Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, so the total profit that Jobs earned was $5,000. But he told Wozniak that he earned $700, of which he gave him $350 as agreed, keeping $4,650 to himself. Wozniak was told about this after ten years.
Jobs was working at Atari, while Wozniak was happy at Hewlett-Packard. Wozniak considered it his dream job and kept building computers as a hobby unrelated to his work at HP. He was inspired by MITS Altair and decided to build a computer board of his own. After building one, he showed it to Jobs who decided it was a worthy effort to try and sell the computer with Wozniak as founders of a new company. The unit was intended to be sold to other computer hobbyists and programming institutes. They started at the Homebrew Computer Club with little success. The material to build the consumer version of the board was acquired after raising a little over $1,000 by selling Job's Volkswagen and Wozniak's HP 65 calculator. They eventually decided to create their own company which Steve named Apple Computers.
The first order for Apple I came from Paul Terrel, who bought 50 computers for $25,000 in total. This gave the two co-founders the much needed boost to keep making more units and try to sell them by themselves.
They tried selling the Apple I at the Personal Computer Festival at Atlantic city in 1976. It was just Jobs and Daniel Kottke who were present; Wozniak was busy finishing work on the Apple II. They intended to compete with the Altair 8800, which was also for sale and display at the festival. Jobs was disappointed with the whole affair; they were two men, not looking professional at all, and trying to sell a computer board in a small booth. The Altair, on the other hand, was displayed in a huge booth with all sorts of entertainment around it. Steve realized that if he had to compete with something like that, he would have to up the ante by leaps.
By the time Wozniak finished work on the Apple II, Steve began looking for venture capitalists. He was not very successful in impressing a few of them until he met Mike Markkula. Mike was shown the prototype for Apple II. He then offered Jobs and Wozniak $250,000 for 1,000 finished units. Wozniak was convinced to quit Hewlett-Packard around this time. Mike's offered his business expertise to sell Apple II by adding the initial capital, advising Jobs to hire Regis McKenna for advertising the computer and Rob Janoff for designing the Apple logo.
They sold 300 units of Apple II at the West Coast Computer Faire alone, which was much more than the total sales of Apple I. The whole thing went so well, Steve was fully convinced good marketing and professionalism go a long way in selling a product than the product itself, although the Apple II was already setting new boundaries in the personal computer business. It was loaded with enough features to sell it to almost anyone, while coming is a quite appealing package (compared to the rather shabbily displayed Apple I).
By mid-1979, Apple II had sold enough units to make the company heads think of going public. This was a turning point in Steve's life, both personally and professionally.
Steve's ex-girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan, approached him in 1978, claiming that she was pregnant with their baby. This left Steve tense. He was far too busy managing Apple to accept this sudden change in his personal life. He initially denied that the baby was his, but almost everyone knew that was not true. Steve was pretty much doing the same thing that his real parents had done to him, which had a huge impact on his thinking. It was probably this incident that led him to name Apple's next project Lisa, same as his daughter.
On the professional front, Steve was rapidly becoming the national icon for Apple, while the board was deliberating on Apple's IPO. Apple spent $20,000 through their welfare fund over Lisa, Steve's daughter, which Steve later reimbursed. Steve was totally immersed in his business and often lost his temper over professional aspects of the company. The fact that he did not really know much about the technology or had any academic business background was not taken lightly by the other members of the company. Apple went public on December 12th 1980. A day before the declaration, Steve (his share) was worth about $7.5 million, which shot to $217.5 million.
Steve was becoming one tough boss to work with. Employes were even said to be afraid of getting into the elevator with him. This, along with his constant insistence of adding a GUI to Lisa and his lack of technical input, led to him being kicked out of the Lisa project in 1982. At the same time, he was locked in a power struggle with Michael Scott, who was hired by Markkula to manage Apple. Scott's uncalled for action of firing almost half the employes at Apple without consulting the board led to him being fired. This pretty much gave Steve free reign over the company. He used this freedom to take over the Macintosh project in the Personal Office Systems (POS) sector, which was already headed by Jef Raskin. Raskin wrote a personal note to Markkula regarding his professional work on the Macintosh while it being meddled into by Steve, who was much younger, had a shorter temper and little technical knowledge. Raskin wrote that (Steve) "would have made an excellent King of France".
The tension between Steve Jobs and the board eventually precipitated in 1985. Wozniak resigned in the same year, criticizing the management and left feeling insulted by his treatment while working there. John Sculley had already been hired as the Apple CEO in 1983 as the board refused to let an inexperienced Steve Jobs lead them. The initial relationship between Sculley and Jobs was excellent, mostly because of Sculley agreeing with Jobs over the Macintosh being the savior of a failing Apple. While this was looking to be true when the Macintosh was released, the real picture came out soon enough. Apple III had already failed badly, Lisa was going bad as well and the company was barely keeping the edge with Apple II sales. This put too much pressure on the sales of the Macintosh. Early sales were wonderful and it seemed as if Steve was right, but their rival IBM's computer was gaining momentum. It was priced at about $1,000 less than the Mac ($2,500), was much faster and could run a large number of applications that the Mac could not.
Steve Jobs feared being dropped off from Apple by Sculley, and so decided to gather the board to gain their favor while Sculley was on vacation. He tried to convince them to fire Sculley, which Sculley found out the next day. He returned from his vacation, held a board meeting, decided there was some re-organization to be done. He retained his position while Jobs was kicked out of Apple. Steve was still the chairman of the board and held his stocks, but had almost no powers. This was another turning point in his life.
Jobs, after the 1985 fiasco, devoted much of his time exploring future possibilities in computing. He decided to then create his own firm that concentrated on creating powerful computers meant for research and higher learning. He sought funding from Apple for this, but was denied due to the fact that the new venture would create competition for Apple. Jobs officially resigned as chairman after this and looked elsewhere for the funding. He got the funding by selling off all his Apple stock, gaining more than $100 million.
Steve wasted no time in forming a new company which was named 'NeXT' by Yale professor Paul Rand, who was hired by Steve to do the same. He insisted on hiring only the perfect employes for his perfect company.
At the same time, Steve had bought a failing Pixar for $10 million. Steve started to burn off a lot of his own cash on Pixar, while holding much lesser money for NeXT. Yet his primary interest was NeXT, while Pixar got the backseat. Fortune finally smiled on Steve when billionaire Ross Perot agreed to invest $20 million into NeXT. This would not have happened if it wasn't for Steve's brilliant personality which attracted Ross.
Around the same time, Steve figured out who his biological mother was. He found out that Joanne was still alive and had another child, a girl, with her husband. Her name was Mona Simpson and Steve was very happy to find out that she was a celebrated writer.
His present situation also coerced him to rethink his relation with his daughter Lisa, and decided to spend more time with her. Steve contributed to a major part of her education and she spent a lot of time at his house in Woodside. Steve was finally beginning to find the all-important balance between personal and professional life.
It took too long for NeXT to introduce their computer. It was unveiled in October 1988 - more than a year after its actual release date. The problem with the NeXT cube was that it was too costly - almost twice of what any university would buy it for. The company was spending more money than it could earn and was heading for a bad end. Even Ross Perot dropped out of it.
Steve married Laurene Powell in 1991, who gave birth to a son, Paul Reed, in the same year.
In 1993, Jobs was forced to shut down the NeXT hardware production line and focus only on becoming a software oriented company. Their product was now only the NeXTSTEP, a revolutionary object-oriented operating system. No effort produced any sort of profit for NeXT, while Apple continued to live off the Mac and Microsoft soared to new heights.
It was evident that Pixar was a disaster by 1990. In 1991, Steve cut losses by letting go of the hardware line at Pixar and fired half the workforce employed there. Pixar's only saving grace was John Lasseter, whose team scraped in some money by making animated TV commercials. The company would have tanked already if it wasn't for Steve Jobs constantly pumping cash to keep it alive. He was not ready to face the loss and wanted to recover as much of it as he could. He did try selling Pixar over the next few years and almost sold it to Microsoft by 1994. Steve Jobs was facing the lowest point in is professional life - he was the owner of not one, but two companies that were losing.
Till 1995, Steve was constantly looking to sell Pixar and save NeXT with its software. His attention was then drawn to Pixar's ongoing struggle to create a full-length animated movie using nothing but computers. Disney's Jeffrey Katzenberg had signed the deal for the movie with Pixar in 1991 but the production was stalled in 1993 because Disney believed the script and the characters to be unappealing. Lasseter and his team then worked hard to rewrite the script which they finished and showed to Katzenberg in 1995, who liked it and agreed to resume production.
All this drew all of Steve's attention to Pixar and he decided the endeavor was worth more than enough to spend most of his time on. He quickly made himself CEO and President of Pixar and hired Lawrence Levy, CFO, to improve Pixar's image, as well as announcing the possibility of Pixar going public. The name of the proposed movie was the legendary 'Toy Story'
Steve's plan worked perfectly. The movie was a huge Box-Office success. Pixar was made public one week after Toy Story was released. The media hype around this and the successful movie were enough to gather everyone's attention and more importantly, their money. The movie was released by the Thanksgiving weekend of 1995. Steve Jobs, as the President and CEO of Pixar, was worth about $1.5 billion in the week that followed the movie release.
Steve Jobs was not done with making Pixar bigger yet. He approached Disney CEO Michael Eisner and tried re-negotiate the deal between Disney and Pixar, which was too overbearing on Pixar. He succeeded in making a better deal for Pixar (the partnership was split right down the middle) by threatening to look for other distributors.
By 1996, Apple was thrown into utter chaos. They had seen three CEOs in three years - John Sculley left in 1993, replaced by Michael Spindler, who was replaced by Gil Amelio in 1996. The company was running more projects than it could handle, hired too many employes for these projects and their biggest selling points, the Mac and the Mac OS, were becoming outdated. Gil Amelio started looking for a new OS for the Mac and was approached by none other than NeXT, with their own OS. Another feather in Steve's hat was convincing Amelio to buy NeXT for $400 million, simultaneously entering Steve into the Apple board again.
It wasn't good enough. Amelio proved to do more bad than good for Apple. Steve saw this and convinced the board to let him go. In 1997, Steve became Apple's CEO again. This was not intended to be permanent however, Steve already mentioned that he was the CEO of Pixar and was only there to help his old company get back on its own feet. He decided to become the interim CEO of Apple, working only to help them make profit again.
It was enigmatic, almost inhuman, the way Steve Jobs worked during this time. Immediately after coming back to Apple, he started cutting down on the projects. He canceled projects that could not be justified and even fired its members if need be. He called all his trustworthy friends, the members from his executive board at NeXT, and placed them into key positions at Apple. Steve fired anyone who was found leaking critical product information to the outside world, something that Apple had a bad habit of while he was not around.
Steve managed to reduce the total projects Apple worked on to only a handful, and managed to keep them all under heavy locks. By 1999, Apple released four products - the desktop PCs: iMac and Power Mac, and the notebooks: iBook and PowerBook. All four became incredibly favored by consumers. In 2000, he adopted the object-oriented OS NeXTSTEP for Apple computers, renaming it the Mac OS X. In the same 2000 keynote speech, Steve declared that he was now the CEO of Apple, dropping the 'interim' tag. Pixar had gone on to release 'A Bugs Life' (1998) and 'Toy Story 2' (1999). Things were going quite well so there wasn't any issue for both Apple and Pixar to be managed by the same guy.
By 2001, Steve decided to employ his Digital Hub idea, more specifically the iMovie, to coax PC users to switch to the iMac. This was not too successful because users were rapidly switching to music and video piracy through Napster or the emerging Bit Torrent. He also employed and ad campaign called "Apple Switchers" in 2002, which showed a number of 'regular people' switching from PC to Apple, claiming it was better.
Steve Jobs had already done much for Apple, who had never been better. But his trump card was yet to be unveiled. Interestingly, even Steve didn't know how far it would take Apple.
Apple had already introduced their digital jukebox, iTunes to the public. In 2001, Steve unleashed the iPod. It was a digital music player with a space of 5GB or '1,000 songs in your pocket'.
Steve's second masterstroke with the iPod was expanding the iTunes as more than just a digital jukebox. He swiftly approached a lot of popular music labels and got them to sell their songs and albums on iTunes. iTunes had now become a giant online music market. This boosted iPod sales and music sales off iTunes, because not only was digital music easier to store and transfer, it also propelled a segment of anti-piracy consumers looking for cheaper and easier alternatives to get their music from.
His third masterstroke was making a smaller version if the iPod, called the iPod mini. It became the best-selling MP3 player of its time.
By 2003, Steve realized that Apple computers were starting to lag behind its competitors, namely Microsoft and IBM. A major issue was the hardware. They could not manage to effectively make their computers and notebooks smaller and faster, mostly due to hardware space issues. By 2005, Steve started talks with Intel and announced that Apple will now be using Intel chips. This not only helped Apple make smaller, more powerful notebooks, but also effectively silenced critics who said Apple was slower than the PC because of the hardware. The other thing Steve did was to introduce Boot Camp, which gave a user the option to convert a Mac into a PC while starting the computer.
Steve Jobs and Disney CEO Michael Eisner never got along. Their battle for Pixar's rights eventually led to Steve separating Pixar from Disney and declared that he was looking for other distributors. Walt Disney's nephew Roy Disney had resigned from the Disney board in 2003 and publicly criticized the way the company was run, in a bid to get Eisner kicked. The pressure from Roy Disney and Steve Jobs was enough to get this done and Michael Eisner was let go, replaced by Bob Iger. Iger was quick to react to the tension between all parties and started talking to Steve about Disney and Pixar's future. Iger eventually bought Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006, keeping John Lasseter as the Chief Creative Head at Pixar.
By 2007, Apple had released the Apple TV and the iPod Hi-Fi, both of which flopped. Steve was not really concerned by this; his attention was consumed by only one thing. That thing was the iPhone and it was Apple's best kept secret until it got released in 2007.
The iPhone was such a success, Apple wouldn't have to even lift a finger for years and still be a profitable company!
Almost all the companies in the Silicon Valley were caught in the 2006 backdating scandal, including Apple. Apple was not directly blamed, nor was Steve Jobs, but there was an investigation held inside the company. The investigation found Steve's name coming up twice in two different backdating irregularities. In 2007, the US Securities and Exchange Commission found Apple legal counsel Nancy Heinen guilty of backdating and ex-CFO Fred Anderson guilty of negligence. Both were fined, while Steve Jobs was let off the hook because he did not know about the wrongful act. Apple was also not sued because of the company's swift compliance to the SEC requests.
Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2003. He kept it a tight secret and made the news public only in mid 2004. In the nine months that followed the diagnosis, Steve refused surgical procedures and resorted to a cleansing diet to purge his body of the cancer. After nine months, his health continued to decline, so he agreed to the surgery option. The surgery was reported as successful and Steve talked publicly about it in 2005.
The problem resurfaced in 2008 and Steve looked even worse than before. Rumors started flying around. The matter was compounded by the press when Bloomberg accidentally published his obituary in August 2008. Steve laughed it off with Mark Twain's quote: "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" and displayed his blood pressure (110/70). None of this hid the shape Steve was in; it was growing more and more obvious that Steve was not getting better. He became increasingly reclusive in 2009.
Steve Jobs did return to work in 2010. He unveiled the iPad on January 27th, which found considerable success. The keynote was very simple and Steve mostly talked about the iPad while sitting on a black couch.
It was revealed in 2009 that Steve Jobs had undergone a liver transplant because of a hormone imbalance problem that caused him to lose weight. In October 2010, California created America's first live organ donation registry, signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Steve Jobs had a huge hand in influencing this event, probably thought over after his own successful liver transplant.
By 2008, Steve had left much of Apple operations to Tim Cooks, the then-COO and Steve's first mate aboard the Apple ship.
Steve Jobs passed away on the 5th of October, 2011. Apple, Microsoft and Walt Disney headquarters all lowered their flags at half-staff to mourn his death. He is buried at Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Palo Alto and is now survived by his wife Laurene, with whom he had three children, as well as Lisa Brennan-Jobs, his first child, and his sister Patti Jobs. The world mourned his loss; the man who dare change the world had left it.
Steve had resigned as Apple CEO in August, 2011, leaving the company in the hands of Tim Cooks. His last public appearance was in June, 2011, where he talked about the Apple University. He had this idea in 2008 about creating a 'college' of sorts, to train future Apple employes and executives in the ways of Apple. He was also planning for the iPhone 5, to be released on September 12, 2012.
In February, 2012, Steve Jobs was awarded a Grammy Trustees Award for "significant contributions, other than performance, to the field of recording".
Steve Jobs also left us the idea of how simplicity and innovation can go hand-in-hand, forging new possibilities for anybody to create what they want.