Steven Paul Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, to a pair of graduate students who gave him up for adoption because their parents did not want them to marry. Steve was adopted at birth by Clara and Paul Jobs. His mother taught him to read before he went to school. Steve and his father would work on electronics in the family garage, taking apart and reassembling televisions, radios, and stereos.
In elementary school Steve was bored, and he often played pranks. In fourth grade, he was tested and scored on a high school sophomore level. He went to Reed College in Oregon but dropped out after six months. He stayed at Reed and went to some classes that interested him, slept on the floors of friends’ rooms, and got meals at a Hare Krishna temple. He later became a Buddhist. Calligraphy was one class that he enjoyed, and he said that it influenced his interest in design and the use of elegant fonts on Apple computers.
Describing the first computer terminal he saw, Steve said. “I fell totally in love with it.”
In 1970, he was introduced to Steve Wozniak by a mutual friend. Even though Wozniak was five years older, they shared a love of electronics, Bob Dylan, and practical jokes. Together they created the Apple I and Apple II computers. Wozniak was responsible for the electronics, and Steve concentrated on the design. The Apple II was the first personal computer capable of color graphics. Jobs insisted that Apple design both the software and hardware on Apple products. Apple’s first logo had a picture of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. Next came the rainbow-striped apple with a bite taken out on the side. The colored stripes represented the fact that the Apple II could create graphics in color. In 1997, it was simplified to a single color that has changed over time.
In the early 1980s, Steve visited Xerox PARC. He noticed desktop icons on their computer screens. Most computers at this time used a text-only interface. Steve made an arrangement with Xerox so he could use their idea of a graphical user interface. He improved it so computers would be more user-friendly. In 1984, the Macintosh computer was launched with a famous commercial at the Super Bowl.
Steve said, “In 1984, Apple introduced the first Macintosh. It didn’t just change Apple. It changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod. It didn’t just change the way we all listen to music. It changed the entire music industry.”
In 1986, he bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm and started Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs let the animators continue to create the stories but insisted on attention to detail and design.
Steve has been described as brilliant, abrasive, self-centered, a perfectionist, and temperamental. He was a technologist and a businessman, but he was also an artist and designer. He was difficult to work for, but most employees were extremely loyal because he knew how to motivate them. Larry Ellison said that Steve combined “Obsessiveness… with Picasso’s aesthetic and Edison’s inventiveness.”
Steve said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Steve Jobs is listed as the inventor or coinventor on 342 United States patents. He played a key role in the creation of the Apple II, Macintosh, iMac, MacBook, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. He died on Oct. 5, 2011, of complications from pancreatic cancer.