Thursday, October 13, 2011


Steve Jobs portrait, Diana Walker, 1982
(Image via Smithsonian).  
When Steve Jobs first met his biological sister, Mona Simpson, he was already 32 years old.  At this time, the board at Apple Inc. (the legendary company Jobs originally founded with Steve Wozniak in 1976 at his parents' house when he was only 20) — a garage start-up that he'd made into over a billion dollar company in about eight years during his twenties — had betrayed him: pushing him out of Apple in 1985 once the computer company's sales had started to drop.  

The Apple executives had chosen John Sculley instead, the very man that Jobs had appointed as CEO, over the father of the first Mac himself (which he named Lisa, ironically the name of his first daughter).  In fact, Steve had convinced Sculley to come to Apple with the famous line: "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?" (See video-clip of Sculley recounting that very moment from Bloomberg Game Changers above). 

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates playing the Apple Dating Game (1983)    Steve Jobs Unveils the Macintosh For The First Time (1984)

Steve Jobs on the cover of Time at 27 yrs old, 1982
Up until Steve Jobs had met his sister, he always thought his make-up was purely environmental — cultivated through experience.  "I think it’s quite a natural curiosity for adopted people to want to understand where certain traits come from. But I’m mostly an environmentalist. I think the way you are raised and your values and most of your world view come from the experiences you had as you grew up. But some things aren’t accounted for that way. I think it’s quite natural to have a curiosity about it. And I did."  He once admitted.  

Adopted from very humble beginnings, his adoptive parents from Silicon Valley — Paul and Clara Jobs — were blue collar non-college-graduates, but had promised his paternal parents that they'd send young Steve to college once it was time.  And yet when he met his paternal sister — Simpson, an accomplished novelist in her own right — the tech visionary's belief that his super-mental capacities were entirely nurtured rather natured all changed.  

Despite learning the unfathomable news: that his biological parents had married just 10 months after they had given their (genius) son up for adoption, and then finally having and keeping their second child not too long after giving him up — even still —Jobs was somewhat relieved to absorb that both his parents were intellectuals. 

Although his adoptive father (a mechanist) had inspired and taught him how to dissect and assemble machines growing up,  all along he had wondered about and searched for his biological roots; when he finally found out that both his parents were academics: his biological mother, Joanne Simpson (of Swiss and German descent) being a speech language pathologist and his Muslim Syrian father, John Jandali being a Political Science professor at Nevada University, Jobs then realized for the first time in his life (while already in his 30s) that his erudite mind might actually be somewhat in embedded in his genes. 

Steve Jobs on the cover of Inc. at 26 yrs old, 1981
It all made sense to him at this point: at just nine years old his school was already telling him he could skip junior high school and go into high school — something that he thanks his parents for not allowing.  Steve was twelve when his interest in computers was sparked by an engineer neighbor who worked at Hewitt-Packard (HP).  The young Steve (among a few others youngsters) began attending lectures every Tuesday night at the HP campus, and they were also allowed to work with a computer. Since then he'd wanted one badly. 

One day, Steve Jobs ended up talking to Bill Hewlett himself, "I wanted to build something and I needed some parts, so I picked up the phone and called Bill Hewlett— he was listed in the Palo Alto phone book. He answered the phone and he was real nice. He chatted with me for, like, 20 minutes. He didn’t know me at all, but he ended up giving me some parts and he got me a job that summer working at Hewlett-Packard."  

When Steve was only 13, he met his first and significant Apple partner Steve Wozniak at a friend's garage.  Jobs's recount of the meeting:  "He was about 18. He was, like, the first person I met who knew more electronics than I did at that point. We became good friends, because we shared an interest in computers and we had a sense of humor. We pulled all kinds of pranks together."  

It was during Jobs's high school years in the 60s when he fell in love with liberal arts: "Between my sophomore and junior years, I got stoned for the first time; I discovered Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and all that classic stuff. I read Moby Dick and went back as a junior taking creative-writing classes. By the time I was a senior, I’d gotten permission to spend about half my time at Stanford, taking classes."

Steve Jobs: "Technology is not enough, liberal arts must be at the intersection of innovation."
The tech pioneer is widely known for having humanized computers.
Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt said on the day of Steve Jobs's passing:
"What Steve is saying with all his inventions is that artists have won, not the nerds."
Many refer to Steve Jobs as an artist who used technology as his paint brush.
Steve Jobs ( left) and Steve Wozniak,( right) working together, 1970s
Jobs held on strongly to his interest in liberal arts, which is why he chose to attend Reed College in Oregon, known for its renowned Liberal Art Program.  He stayed there for about a semester — and it was there where he audited a calligraphy class —he has noted that experience would later set his standards for Apple's aesthetic values. (Later, Jobs attributed Apple's difference from other corporations is that they lived by a liberal arts dictum.)

Post experiencing College life for a few months, Jobs did not attend his scheduled courses: instead he audited the classes that peeked his interests.  A college education was the one thing his biological parents had demanded before giving Steve up for adoption — ironically, Jobs dropped out — because he did not want his beloved adoptive parents to pay so much for his college degree.  
The first Apple I by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, 1975 

After travelling a bit through out Europe, Jobs ended up in India to explore; and it was there where he started to believe in Buddhism.  Upon his return, he and Woz (as he likes to call him) got together to build a computer together, not because they were trying to start a Apple Inc, but because they wanted to build their own computer (at the time personal computers were unheard of as they were way too expensive to own).  They did it with a home kit from a company called Altair, which came out in 1975 for about $400.  What followed was the birth of the first Apple computer : Apple I.

"Woz and I raised $1300 by selling my VW bus and his Hewlett-Packard calculator to finance them. He designed most of it. I helped on the memory part and I helped when we decided to turn it into a product. Woz isn’t great at turning things into products, but he’s really a brilliant designer."  

Apple I:  200 of these were sold by Apple as a start-up
And then, they had to come up with a name for their new grass-roots company: apparently, it was Jobs who told Wozniak — who happened to be eating an apple during the conversation — that if they couldn't come up with a name by 5 pm that afternoon, their new computer company would be called, Apple, and Apple Inc. was born. 

One day at one of the first computer stores, the owner told the two Steves: if they can make them, he could sell them.  It was then when it dawned on Steve Jobs: that they could actually make profit out of manufacturing (still at Steve Jobs's garage), their own computer version of what was to become: Apple I computers.

At first, "We sold only about 150 of them, ever. It wasn’t that big a deal, but we made about $95,000 and I started to see it as a business besides something to do." Jobs recalled in an interview.  It continued to register to the then-young entrepreneur that they could build a computer company to make a living while taking part in something both Steves had loved to do.  

They decided to develop an Apple II: "I was trying to build the company — trying to find out what a company was. I don’t think it would have happened without Woz, and I don’t think it would have happened without me." admitted the co-founder of a company that would grow to be the biggest technology company in the world. 

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