A billionaire, an innovator, and entrepreneur, Steve Jobs has changed the culture in the realm of technology with Apple. He has turned products such as the computer, the MP3 player, and the cell phone, and reinvented them into products such as the iMac, iPod, and iPhone in which many users would agree excel in performance, quality, and capability.
Striving to make products better and easier to use for consumers, he wants to exceed people’s expectations for every new product that he comes out with, and at the very least, create something that he would want to use himself. Steve Jobs’ life story from a college drop-out to being the CEO of one of the world’s great companies, is an example of what anybody can become and achieve if they have enough passion and commitment in their work.
In the beginning, Steve Job’s biological mother, an unwed graduate student, decided to put her son up for adoption. Maybe it was because she couldn’t handle the pressure of going to school and taking care of a child at the same time. So she decided that it would be best if Steve would be adopted by a lawyer and his wife. She hoped that one day her son would be able to go to college.
At the last minute though, the lawyer and his wife decided that they wanted to adopt a girl instead. So Steve was adopted by another set of parents who were on the waiting list. The only problem was Steve’s biological mother found out that these parents didn’t nearly even have the same academic experience as the lawyer. The mother never graduated from college and the father never even graduated from high school.
Steve’s biological mother refused to sign the adoption papers to these parents. Only a few months later, these parents promised her that one day her son would go to college. She finally gave in and signed the papers. Steve’s new parents were Paul and Clara Jobs, thus his name – Steve Jobs.
Steve’s new family lived within Silicon Valley, California. And when Steve was a boy, he and his dad would work on electronics in the family garage. His dad would show him how to do things like taking apart and reconstructing electronics. His interest in electronics would begin growing here.
When he went to high school, he spent a lot of time in the Hewlard-Packard plant. Hewlard-Packart or HP, was a popular brand of computers at the time and Steve was fascinated by them. One day, he went up and bodly asked William Hewlard, the president, for some parts that he needed in order to complete a class project. Hewlard was so impressed with this kid that he offered him a summer internship there. Steve would learn more about the ins-in-outs of how computer technology worked during the internship.
After he graduated from high school, Steve would fulfill his biological mother’s dream of going to college. But it was painful for Steve’s adoptive parents, as he had picked a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford. Steve’s adoptive parents were working-class status and their savings were all being spent on his college tuition. After six months, he just couldn’t see the value in it. He decided to drop out of college.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay.”
It was pretty scary for him at the time, and he had no idea what to do now. At the very least, he could at least stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest him, and begin going to the classes that he thought were more interesting.
Times were difficult for Steve however. He didn’t have a dorm room, so he had to sleep on the floor in his friends’ rooms. He would return Coke bottles for five cent deposits to buy food with. He would also walk seven miles across town every town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.
The upside was that he could take one of his favorite classes in college. Reed College at the time offered one of the best calligraphy instruction classes in the country. Steve recalls that every poster, every label on every drawer had beautifully calligraphy on it. He would learn about the serif and san serif typefaces, about the amount of space between different letter combinations, and about what made typography great.
“It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.”
The only problem with going into classes that he loved was that none of it had any hope of any practical application in real life. So by the time he was 20, he and his friend started applying their knowledge in technology on a new project together in his parents’ garage. They would create a company called Apple Computer Company in memory of a happy summer that Steve had spent picking apples. It was a risk, but a risk that they were willing to take. To fund their venture, Steve would sell his Volkswagen while Wozniak, his computer genius friend, would sell his scientific calculator.
They worked hard together for 10 years. By the time Steve was about 30 years old, they had grown their Apple company from just the two of them working in the garage into a $2 billion dollar company with over 4000 employees. The best part was that they had put in what Steve had learned in college by taking that calligraphy class he loved. He recalls that during that moment, it all came back to him. The Mac was the first computer that had beautiful typography with multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts.
“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that the do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.”
Tragedy suddenly happened though. Towards the end of 1984, Apple computer sales started to suffer. IBM started to take over the PC world. Consumers started to get disappointed. Employees that worked for Steve started to describe him as an erratic and temporal manager. The person he and his partner hired to run the company, Scully, also started to have different visions. Steve’s working relationship with him started to deteriorate and eventually they had a falling out. When they did, the Board of Directions sided with Scully instead of Steve. At age 30, he was let go.
“What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.”
He didn’t give up though. One thing that he had going was that he still loved what he did. Just because Apple had basically fired him, it didn’t mean he could stop doing what he wanted. He decided that he would start over. Now that he wasn’t so successful, he didn’t have that big of a burden on him. He was a beginner again and it freed him up to enter one of the most creative periods of his life.
In the next five years, he started on a company called NeXt, another company called Pixar, and also fell in love with an amazing woman that would soon become his wife. Even with his failure and mistakes, he learned something out of it and kept working with a positive attitude.
About nine years after he invested and put his belief in the company Pixar, they went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story. After that, they went onto to make a series of successful computer animated films like A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Monsters, Inc., which had the largest opening weekend ticket sales of any animated film in history.
For about a decade Apple would go without Steve. However, because of the lack of innovation of Steve’s absence as well as the upcoming success of Microsoft Windows 95, Apple’s market share began to decline and the company was deteriorating. About 11 years after Steve had left the company, Apple bought Steve’s company NeXT and assigned him to return to Apple as a consultant for the CEO. They would integrate the high technology from NeXT into the Macintosh software and create a computer product that could compete against Bill Gate’s Microsoft.
Later, Steve became the permanent CEO of apple and went onto develop a series of innovate products not just for computers, but for music players and cell phontes, including the iPod, iPhone, and currently the iPad. Ever since he started the Apple company, his goal has always been to try and make the best products for people in which he would be proud to sell and could recommend to his family and friends.
Although Steve had his troubles from dropping out of college and getting fired from his own company, he was still able to pick himself back up and do what he loved, hoping that everything would come out “okay”. He trusted his intuition, developed a positive attitude, and kept working. He took things that already out in the market and reinvented them, creating something new and making it easier for people to use. In the end, things eventually did come out okay for him. He has survived cancer, has a loving wife and family, and is one of the most influential people in our world who has revolutionized the abilities of what technology can do, setting ways for what is possible in technology for the future.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”