Steven Paul Jobs, better known as Steve Jobs, Born, February 24, 1955 and died October 5, 2011, was an American entrepreneur, marketer, and inventor, who was the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc.
Through Apple, he was widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution and for his influential career in the computer and consumer electronics fields, transforming “one industry after another, from computers and smartphones to music and movies.” Jobs also co-founded and served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios; he became a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company in 2006, when Disney acquired Pixar.
In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with a pancreas neuroendocrine tumor. Though it was initially treated, he reported a hormone imbalance, underwent a liver transplant in 2009, and appeared progressively thinner as his health declined. On medical leave for most of 2011, Jobs resigned in August of that year, and was elected Chairman of the Board. He died of respiratory arrest related to his tumor on October 5, 2011.
Jobs’ birth parents met at the University of Wisconsin, where Jobs’ Syrian-born biological father, Abdulfattah “John” Jandali was a student, and later taught, and where his biological mother, Swiss-American Catholic Joanne Carole Schieble, was also a student. They were the same age because Jandali had received his PhD at an early age. Jandali, who was teaching in Wisconsin when Jobs was born, said he had no choice but to put the baby up for adoption because his girlfriend’s family objected to their relationship.
Born in San Francisco, California, he was adopted at birth by Paul Reinhold Jobs, who died in 1993 and Clara Jobs who passed in 1996, an Armenian American whose maiden name was Hagopian.
Later, when asked about his “adoptive parents”, Jobs replied emphatically that Paul and Clara Jobs “were my parents.” He stated in his authorized biography that they “were my parents 1,000%.” Unknown to him, his biological parents would subsequently marry in 1955, have a second child, novelist Mona Simpson, in 1957, and divorce in 1962.
Jobs attended Cupertino Junior High and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California. At Homestead, Jobs became friends with Bill Fernandez, a neighbor who shared the same interests in electronics. Fernandez introduced Jobs to his neighbor, Steve Wozniak, a computer and electronics whiz kid, who was also known as “Woz”. In 1969 Wozniak started building a little computer board with Fernandez that they named “The Cream Soda Computer”, which they showed to Jobs; he seemed really interested. Wozniak has stated that they called it the Cream Soda Computer because he and Fernandez drank cream soda all the time whilst they worked on it and that he and Jobs had gone to the same high school; although they did not know each other there.
FOOT IN THE DOOR
In late 1973, Jobs took a job as a technician at Atari Inc. in Los Gatos, California. Atari’s co-founder Nolan Bushnell described him as “difficult but valuable”, pointing out that “he was very often the smartest guy in the room, and he would let people know that.” Jobs traveled to India in mid-1974 to visit Neem Karoli Baba at his Kainchi Ashram with a Reed College friend, Daniel Kottke, in search of spiritual enlightenment.
After staying for seven months, Jobs left India and returned to the US ahead of Daniel Kottke. Jobs had changed his appearance; his head was shaved and he wore traditional Indian clothing. During this time, Jobs experimented with psychedelics, later calling his LSD experiences “one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He also became a serious practitioner of Zen Buddhism, engaged in lengthy meditation retreats at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.
In 1976, Wozniak single-handedly invented the Apple I computer. After Wozniak showed it to Jobs, who suggested that they sell it, they and Ronald Wayne formed Apple Computer in the garage of Jobs’ parents in order to sell it. Wayne stayed only a short time, leaving Jobs and Wozniak as the primary co-founders of the company. They received funding from a then-semi-retired Intel product-marketing manager and engineer Mike Markkula.
In 1978, Apple recruited Mike Scott from National Semiconductor to serve as CEO for what turned out to be several turbulent years. In 1983, Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple’s CEO. In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of Xerox PARC’s mouse-driven graphical user interface, which led to the creation of the Apple Lisa. One year later, Apple employee Jef Raskin invented the Macintosh.
While Jobs was a persuasive and charismatic director for Apple, some of his employees from that time described him as an erratic and temperamental manager. Disappointing sales caused a deterioration in Jobs’ working relationship with Sculley, which devolved into a power struggle between the two. Jobs kept meetings running past midnight, sent out lengthy faxes, then called new meetings at 7:00 am.
Jobs founded NeXT Inc. shortly after resigning from Apple in October, 1985. A year later he was running out of money, and with no product on the horizon, he sought venture capital. Eventually, Jobs attracted the attention of billionaire Ross Perot, who invested heavily in the company. NeXT workstations were first released in 1990, priced at $9,999. Like the Apple Lisa, the NeXT workstation was technologically advanced, but was largely dismissed as cost-prohibitive by the educational sector for which it was designed.
The NeXT workstation was known for its technical strengths, chief among them its object-oriented software development system. Jobs marketed NeXT products to the financial, scientific, and academic community, highlighting its innovative, experimental new technologies, such as the Mach kernel, the digital signal processor chip, and the built-in Ethernet port. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web on a NeXT computer at CERN.
The revised, second-generation NeXTcube was released in 1990, also. Jobs touted it as the first “interpersonal” computer that would replace the personal computer. With its innovative NeXTMail multimedia email system, NeXTcube could share voice, image, graphics, and video in email for the first time. Jobs ran NeXT with an obsession for aesthetic perfection, as evidenced by the development of and attention to NeXTcube’s magnesium case. This put considerable strain on NeXT’s hardware division, and in 1993, after having sold only 50,000 machines, NeXT transitioned fully to software development with the release of NeXTSTEP/Intel. The company reported its first profit of $1.03 million in 1994.
NeXT Inc was acquired by Apple in 1996, and with it, Jobs returned to Apple, claiming the CEO position in 1997.
In 1986, Jobs bought The Graphics Group (later renamed Pixar) from Lucas film’s computer graphics division for the price of $10 million, $5 million of which was given to the company as capital.
The first film produced by the partnership, Toy Story in 1995, with Jobs credited as executive producer, brought fame and critical acclaim to the studio when it was released. Over the next 15 years, under Pixar’s creative chief John Lasseter, the company produced box-office hits A Bug’s Life (1998); Toy Story 2 (1999); Monsters, Inc. (2001); Finding Nemo (2003); The Incredibles (2004); Cars (2006); Ratatouille (2007); WALL-E (2008); Up (2009); and Toy Story 3 (2010).
Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3 each received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, an award introduced in 2001.
In the years 2003 and 2004, as Pixar’s contract with Disney was running out, Jobs and Disney chief executive Michael Eisner tried but failed to negotiate a new partnership, and in early 2004, Jobs announced that Pixar would seek a new partner to distribute its films after its contract with Disney expired.
In October 2005, Bob Iger replaced Eisner at Disney, and Iger quickly worked to mend relations with Jobs and Pixar. On January 24, 2006, Jobs and Iger announced that Disney had agreed to purchase Pixar in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4 billion. When the deal closed, Jobs became The Walt Disney Company’s largest single shareholder with approximately seven percent of the company’s stock. Jobs’ holdings in Disney far exceeded those of Eisner, who holds 1.7 percent, and of Disney family member Roy E. Disney, who until his 2009 death held about one percent of the company’s stock and whose criticisms of Eisner accelerated Eisner’s ousting. Upon completion of the merger, Jobs received seven percent of Disney shares, and joined the Board of Directors as the largest individual shareholder. Upon Jobs’ death, his shares in Disney were transferred to the Steven P. Jobs Trust led by Laurene Jobs.
ILLNESS AND DEATH
In August 2011, Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, but remained with the company as chairman of the company’s board. Hours after the announcement, Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares dropped five percent in after-hours trading. This relatively small drop, when considering the importance of Jobs to Apple, was associated with the fact that his health had been in the news for several years and he had been on medical leave since January 2011.
Jobs died at his Palo Alto, California, home around 3 pm on October 5, 2011, due to complications from a relapse of his previously treated islet-cell neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer, resulting in respiratory arrest. He had lost consciousness the day before, and died with his wife, children, and sisters at his side.
Both Apple and Microsoft flew their flags at half-staff throughout their respective headquarters and campuses. Bob Iger ordered all Disney properties, including Walt Disney World and Disneyland, to fly their flags at half-staff, from October 6 to 12, 2011.
Steve Jobs was an icon in the computer industry, and not only was he a good business man, he helped shape the computing industry for years to come.
Image Caption: Steve Jobs showing off the iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference. Credit: Matthew Yohe/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)