Friday, October 7, 2011
Remembering Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was born February 24, 1955, to two University of Wisconsin graduate students who gave him up for adoption. Smart but directionless, Jobs experimented with different pursuits before starting Apple Computers with Stephen Wozniak in the Jobs' family garage. Apple's revolutionary products, which include the iPod, iPhone and iPad, are now seen as dictating the evolution of modern technology.
Steven Paul Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, to Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, two University of Wisconsin graduate students who gave their unnamed son up for adoption. His father, Abdulfattah Jandali, was a Syrian political science professor and his mother, Joanne Simpson, worked as a speech therapist. Shortly after Steve was placed for adoption, his biological parents married and had another child, Mona Simpson. It was not until Jobs was 27 that he was able to uncover information on his biological parents.
As an infant, Steven was adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs and named Steven Paul Jobs. Clara worked as an accountant and Paul was a Coast Guard veteran and machinist. The family lived in Mountain View within California's Silicon Valley. As a boy, Jobs and his father would work on electronics in the family garage. Paul would show his son how to take apart and reconstruct electronics, a hobby which instilled confidence, tenacity, and mechanical prowess in young Jobs.
While Jobs has always been an intelligent and innovative thinker, his youth was riddled with frustrations over formal schooling. In elementary school he was a prankster whose fourth grade teacher needed to bribe him to study. Jobs tested so well, however, that administrators wanted to skip him ahead to high school—a proposal his parents declined.
After he did enroll in high school, Jobs spent his free time at Hewlett-Packard. It was there that he befriended computer club guru Steve Wozniak. Wozniak was a brilliant computer engineer, and the two developed great respect for one another.
After high school, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Lacking direction, he dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months dropping in on creative classes. Jobs later recounted how one course in calligraphy developed his love of typography.
In 1974, Jobs took a position as a video game designer with Atari. Several months later he left Atari to find spiritual enlightenment in India, traveling the continent and experimenting with psychedelic drugs. In 1976, when Jobs was just 21, he and Wozniak started Apple Computers. The duo started in the Jobs family garage, and funded their entrepreneurial venture after Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak sold his beloved scientific calculator.
Jobs and Wozniak are credited with revolutionizing the computer industry by democratizing the technology and making the machines smaller, cheaper, intuitive, and accessible to everyday consumers. The two conceived a series of user-friendly personal computers that they initially marketed for $666.66 each. Their first model, the Apple I, earned them $774,000. Three years after the release of their second model, the Apple II, sales increased 700 percent to $139 million dollars. In 1980, Apple Computer became a publically traded company with a market value of $1.2 billion on the very first day of trading. Jobs looked to marketing expert John Scully of Pepsi-Cola to help fill the role of Apple's President.
However, the next several products from Apple suffered significant design flaws resulting in recalls and consumer disappointment. IBM suddenly surpassed Apple sales, and Apple had to compete with an IBM/PC dominated business world. In 1984 Apple released the Macintosh, marketing the computer as a piece of a counter culture lifestyle: romantic, youthful, creative. But despite positive sales and performance superior to IBM's PCs, the Macintosh was still not IBM compatible. Scully believed Jobs was hurting Apple, and executives began to phase him out.
In 1985, Jobs resigned as Apple's CEO to begin a new hardware and software company called NeXT, Inc. The following year Jobs purchased an animation company from George Lucas, which later became Pixar Animation Studios. Believing in Pixar's potential, Jobs initially invested $50 million of his own money into the company. Pixar Studios went on to produce wildly popular animation films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Pixar's films have netted $4 billion. The studio merged with Walt Disney in 2006, making Steve Jobs Disney's largest shareholder.
Despite Pixar's success, NeXT, Inc. floundered in its attempts to sell its specialized operating system to mainstream America. Apple eventually bought the company in 1997 for $429 million. That same year, Jobs returned to his post as Apple's CEO.
Much like Steve Jobs instigated Apple's success in the 1970s, he is credited with revitalizing the company in the 1990s. With a new management team, altered stock options, and a self-imposed annual salary of $1 a year, Jobs put Apple back on track. His ingenious products such as the iMac, effective branding campaigns, and stylish designs caught the attention of consumers once again.
In 2003, Jobs discovered he had a neuroendocrine tumor, a rare but operable form of pancreatic cancer. Instead of immediately opting for surgery, Jobs chose to alter his pescovegetarian diet while weighing Eastern treatment options. For nine months Jobs postponed surgery, making Apple's board of directors nervous. Executives feared that shareholders would pull their stocks if word got out that their CEO was ill. But in the end, Job's confidentiality took precedence over shareholder disclosure. In 2004, he had a successful surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor. True to form, in subsequent years Jobs disclosed little about his health.
Apple introduced such revolutionary products as the Macbook Air, iPod, and iPhone, all of which have dictated the evolution of modern technology. Almost immediately after Apple releases a new product, competitors scramble to produce comparable technologies. In 2007, Apple's quarterly reports were the company's most impressive statistics to date. Stocks were worth a record-breaking $199.99 a share, and the company boasted a staggering $1.58 billion dollar profit, an $18 billion dollar surplus in the bank, and zero debt.
In 2008, iTunes became the second biggest music retailer in America-second only to Wal-Mart. Half of Apple's current revenue comes from iTunes and iPod sales, with 200 million iPods sold and six billion songs downloaded. For these reasons, Apple has been rated No. 1 in America's Most Admired Companies, and No. 1 amongst Fortune 500 companies for returns to shareholders.
Early in 2009, reports circulated about Jobs' weight loss, some predicting his health issues had returned, which included a liver transplant. Jobs had responded to these concerns by stating he was dealing with a hormone imbalance. After nearly a year out of the spotlight, Steve Jobs delivered a keynote address at an invite-only Apple event September 9, 2009.
In respect to his personal life, Steve Jobs remained a private man who rarely discloses information about his family. What is known is Jobs fathered a daughter with girlfriend Chrisann Brennan when he was 23. Jobs denied paternity of his daughter Lisa in court documents, claiming he was sterile. Jobs did not initiate a relationship with his daughter until she was 7 but, when she was a teenager, she came to live with her father.
In the early 1990s, Jobs met Laurene Powell at Stanford business school, where Powell was an MBA student. They married on March 18, 1991, and lived together in Palo Alto, California, with their three children.
On October 5, 2011, Apple Inc. announced that co-founder Steve Jobs had died. He was 56 years old at the time of his death.