Steven Paul Jobs was born in San Francisco, California on February 24 1955. His biological parents, unwed college graduates Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali, had him adopted by a lower-middle-class couple from south of the Bay Area, Paul and Clara Jobs. Young Steve grew up in a valley of apricot orchards that was already turning into the world center of computer technology: Silicon Valley. It was not uncommon to see engineers fill their garages with all kind of electronic devices in that part of California. Steve Jobs was fascinated by these, and that’s why, in 1969, he met with a computer whiz kid who shared his interests in electronics: Stephen Wozniak — commonly known as Woz. Steve and Woz quickly became friends even though Woz was five years older. When Steve Jobs reached college age, he decided he would go to Reed College in Oregon. It was an expensive liberal arts college, way too pricey for his modest parents; but they had to keep their promise to Steve’s biological mother, and therefore paid for the tuition. Steve only stayed at Reed for one semester though, after which he dropped out. He then spent a lot of time learning about Eastern mysticism and adopted strange diets, fasting or eating only fruits: it was his hippie period. He even traveled to India with a friend to seek enlightenment at age 19. Apple’s early years (1975-81)
After Steve came back to the Valley, he focused on Woz’s work on a computer board. Woz was attending a group of early personal computer hobbyists called the Homebrew Computer Club, where he got the idea of designing his own computer (which consisted only of a circuit board at the time). Steve Jobs saw that many people were interested in his friend’s brilliant work: he suggested they sell the board to them. Apple Computer was born.
Apple’s first year in business consisted of assembling the boards in Steve’s garage and driving to local computer stores to try and sell them. Meanwhile, Woz worked on a new, much improved computer, the Apple II, which he basically finished in 1977. Both Woz and Steve knew the Apple II was a breakthrough computer, much more advanced than anything the market had ever seen. That’s why Steve set out to find venture capitalists to fund Apple’s expansion. After a while, he made a deal with Mike Markkula, an enthusiastic former Intel executive who invested $250,000 in their business and assured them their company would enter the Fortune 500 list in less than two years. Mike was right. The Apple II soon became the symbol of the personal computing revolution worldwide. It crushed all competition both because of its breakthrough hardware features (including its color graphics) and its very large supply of compatible software. The key to Apple II’s success was actually VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program ever brought to market. Thousands of people bought Apple IIs just to use it. As a result, the company grew at a very fast rate, and went public after just four years of existence, in December 1980. Steve Jobs’ net worth passed the $200 million mark on that day — he was only 25. But Apple’s success was threatened, as industry giant IBM was planning to enter the personal computer market in 1981. Apple had to fight back or they would go out of business in a couple of years’ time. Their Apple III computer had already bombed on the marketplace. They focused all their energy on a project headed by Steve Jobs: Lisa. He had named it after his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, although he denied all paternity (that difficult situation actually caused him to miss Time Magazine’s Man of the Year 1982). The Lisa computer was a breakthrough because it used a graphical user interface instead of a command-line interface. This technology, like many others that would revolutionize computing, was invented at Xerox PARC — but Apple was the first company to bring it to market. Macintosh (1981-85)
Yet Steve Jobs was soon thrown out of the Lisa project because he was...