Biography Steve Jobs
His biological mother was an unwed graduate student (and his biological father is said to be a political science or mathematics professor, maybe of Middle-Western descent -but this has never been confirmed). Back in the 50s, it was unconceivable for such a young woman to raise a child on her own, so she decided to put her little baby boy up for adoption. But she insisted that the adoptive parents had to be college graduates, just like she was…
This was not the case of Paul and Clara Jobs, but Steve? biological mother finally relented to let them her child after they promised he would be sent to college. Paul Jobs was a midwestern farmer? s son who had settled in the Bay Area after his war service in the USCG and married Clara in 1946. The couple decided to name their adopted child Steven Paul Jobs. Steve? s younger sister, Patty, was adopted 3 years later. Childhood & Teenage years Steve was very bored in school. By his own words: “I was pretty bored in school and turned into a little terror” (Playboy Interview with David Sheff, February 1985) But this would soon change thanks to his 4th grade teacher, Imogene “Teddy” Hill.
Steve would later say about her: “She was one of the saints of my life. She taught an advanced fourth grade class, and it took her about a month to get hip to my situation. She bribed me into learning. ” His skills became so apparent that the school allowed him to skip 5th grade and go straight to middle school. The problem was, the Crittenden middle school was not a nice place to be around. Steve, who felt left behind in the ambient chaos, insisted that his parents moved him to another school the next year, otherwise he would refuse to go to school altogether.
The 11-year old? s thoughtful parents bowed and moved to Los Altos in 1967, so that Steve could attend the much cozier Cupertino Junior High School. This move is worth noting because the city of Los Altos, as well as the neighboring towns of Cupertino and Sunnyvale, distinguished themselves by the great number of engineer’s garages they hosted. A little history here. In 1957, the launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union rushed the US into what would later be known as the space race.
Federal money was poured in the emerging electronics industry which can roughly be traced back to the invention of the transistor for which William Shockley (as well as Walter Brattain and John Bardeen) obtained the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956. It just so happens, Shockley set up the Shock-ley Semiconductor company in the Santa Clara County, 30 miles south of San Francisco, thus making it the world center of electronics research. The area was soon filled with engineers and young companies started to appear in their garages.
Such was the case of Hewlett-Packard. HP engineers played a major role in Steve? s life, as they were the ones who introduced the youngster to the world of electronics. This would become his #1 hobby as he would enter Homestead High the following year. At Homestead, he attended his first electronics class and befriended Bill Fernandez, who shared his passion for electronics. Fernandez happened to know an electronics whiz, 5 years older than Steve Jobs, whose name was Steve Wozniak, but that everybody called “Woz”. 14-year old Steven Paul Jobs
Bill Fernandez and Woz, despite their differences of age, had bonded together because they were working on a project of building their own computer with spare electronics parts, which they called the “flair pen & cream soda computer”. They were so good at it that a local reporter from the San Jose Mercury News came to Bill? s garage to interview them. Anyway, Steve took interest in the project and Bill introduced the 14-year-old Steve to his 18-year-old friend. Although they met in 1969, a real friendship between Steve and Woz started developing a couple of years later, when Woz became a enowned figure in the small world of “phone phreaks”.
These were a primal form of hackers who had found out a way to fool AT&T? s long-distance switching equipment, thus providing a way to make international calls for free. The hardware they used to do so was known as “blue boxes”. Woz? s blue boxes were the best ones around, and it fascinated 17-year-old Steve. He soon convinced his friend they should sell the boxes, and they did so for a few months (the price varying form $150 to $300) before it started to become too illegal to be safe. 19-year old Steve Jobs A blue box
After Steve finished high school, his parents, true to their words, asked him to pick a college. Steve chose Reed College in Oregon… Paul and Clara were dismayed: although a renowned liberal arts college, Reed was very far from home, and one of the most expensive institution in America. But Steve refusing to go anywhere else, all of their savings were spent in his tuition. After a few months spent at Reed, young Steve appeared to be much more interested in the elimination of mucus and the path to a higher awareness through Eastern mysticism than his Physics & English Literature classes. His grades were extremely poor.
Here? s what he said about it some 32 years later: “After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. 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 OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5? deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. ” (Stanford Commencent Adresss, 12 June 2005)
Steve kept on hanging around Reed campus the following year as well, and it wasn? t before 1974 that he got his first job at a young video game company called Atari. He was hired despite his neglected look and bad smell because Atari was growing fast and be- ause it was Silicon Valley, but, after a while, he was only allowed to work by night so he wouldn? t bother his fellow colleagues. One day, he came to see his boss at Atari, Al Alcorn, and asked him for money to go make a spiritual journey in India. Alcorn agreed (only in exchange of a little rewiring work for him to do in Germany). So in the summer of 1974, Steve left with one of his best friends from Reed, Dan Kottke.
But after a month spent in the midst of poverty, visiting guru after guru without finding any spiritual enlightenment, Steve and Dan? s opinion about the search for truth had changed quite a bit. We weren? t going to find a place where we could go for a month to be enlightened. It was one of the first times that I started to realize that maybe thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Kairolie Baba put together. ” (quoted in Michael Moritz’s “The Little Kingdom”) After his return from India,
Steve started working for Atari again and renewed his interest in electronics (which did not prevent him from frequenting the Los Altos Zen Center and spending time in the All-One Farm in Oregon where his hippie friends from Reed lived). He started to be more and more interested in Woz? progress on a new computer design. Apple’s first years Indeed, at the time, Woz was starting to become a respected member of the Homebrew Computer club, a computer hobbyist group that belonged to the “Free University Movement”.
The club, whose popularity was rapidly increasing, gathered twice a week at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center auditorium. Its members were mostly passionate engineers who came to show off their latest achievement and share tips and information about computer kits, programming language and the design of what, after all, would soon be considered as the first personal computers.
Steve? s own interest in computer design was limited, but he quickly understood that his friend? s current project was an amazing feat of engineering. He started to get involve and after a few months, he convinced Woz to found a company to sell his computer to other hobbyists.
He had understood that there were hundreds of software hobbyist out there, who, unlike Woz, were not interested in building a machine, but rather in using it for programming. So, on April 1, 1976, Apple was born. The name “Apple Computer” was chosen because they hadn? t found anything better and because it was Steve? favorite food at the time (he was a fruitarian). Jobs and Wozniak got each a share of 45% while the remaining 10% went to Ron Wayne, an Atari engineer who had given an hand to the duo.
The original capital was quite modest: Steve had come up with $500 by selling his Volkswagen while Woz had brought another $500 by selling his HP calculator. Stephen Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1976 While the introduction of the Apple I to the Homebrew Computer Club went practically unnoticed, Apple Computer made its first sale a few weeks later: Paul Terrel, who has just founded a new chain of computer stores called the Byte shop, wanted to buy apples.
He said he would buy 50 of them at $500 each, cash on delivery. That was worth $25000! “Nothing in the subsequent years was so great and so unexpected” Wozniak said as he recalled the event. While the first Apples were made of just a circuit board, which wasn? t exactly the idea that Terrel had of a computer, the following models, which were all assembled in Apple? s first headquarters, the Jobses? famous garage, were delivered in a wooden box as followed: An Apple I computer Apple’s first logo, designed by Ron Wayne
It was also that year that Woz started working on the design of the Apple II. The Apple II was a real breakthrough in personal computer design: among other things, its operating system would load automatically and it didn? t require a fan (Jobs hated fans) because of a revolutionary new type of power supply – but, most of all, it could do a lot more than its rivals with an incredibly lower number of components, thanks to Woz? s genius. The first working mock-up of Apple II was ready for Apple? s first public appearance at the Personal Computer Festival of Atlantic City in Summer 76.
The Apple booth at that show, consisting of a card table with the entire product line (the Apple II mockup and an Apple I circuit) in front of yellow curtains, was far from impressive compared to the enormous setups of MITS, on which everyone’s attention was focused (MITS had produced the first personal computer kit ever, Ed Roberts? Altair). Steve realized two things at that show: the importance of first impression and the fact that to succeed, the Apple II had to be a self-contained device, nothing like a computer kit.
Woz, Steve and Dan Kottke at the Personal Computer Festival in Summer ’76 In late 1976, Steve decided Apple had to hire a PR agency to take care of its advertising. He turned to one of the most regarded advertising agency of the Valley, which was run by Regis McKenna (it had just released Intel? s popular advertising campaign). Although he had first turned him down, thanks to Steve? s sheer force of persuasion, McKenna finally accepted to work for Apple. One of their first decision was to advertise in Playboy magazine.