Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, on February 24, 1955, to two University of Wisconsin graduate students who gave him up for adoption. He was adopted at birth by Paul Reinhold Jobs (1922–1993) and Clara Jobs (1924–1986).
The Jobs family moved from San Francisco to Mountain View, California when Jobs was five years old. The parents later adopted a daughter, Patty.Paul worked as a mechanic and a carpenter, and taught his son rudimentary electronics and how to work with his hands.Paul showed Steve how to work on electronics in the family garage, demonstrating to his son how to take apart and rebuild electronics such as radios and televisions. As a result, he became interested in and developed a hobby of technical tinkering.
Clara was an accountant who taught him to read before he went to school.Clara Jobs had been a payroll clerk for Varian Associates, one of the first high-tech firms in what became known as Silicon Valley.
Jobs’s youth was riddled with frustrations over formal schooling. At Monta Loma Elementary school in Mountain View, he frequently played pranks on others. Though school officials recommended that he skip two grades on account of his test scores, his parents elected for him only to skip one grade.
In 1972, Steve Wozniak designed his own version of the classic video game, Pong. After finishing it, Wozniak gave the board to Jobs, who then took the game down to Atari, Inc. in Los Gatos, California. Atari thought that Jobs had built it and gave him a job as a technician.
Smart but directionless, Jobs experimented with different pursuits before starting Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in 1976.
Jobs and Wozniak are credited with revolutionizing the computer industry by democratizing the technology and making the machines smaller, cheaper, intuitive and accessible to everyday consumers.
Wozniak conceived a series of user-friendly personal computers, and—with Jobs in charge of marketing—Apple initially marketed the computers for $666.66 each, and the Apple I earned the corporation around $774,000. Three years after the release of Apple’s second model, the Apple II, the company’s sales increased by 700 percent, to $139 million. In 1980, Apple Computer became a publicly traded company, with a market value of $1.2 billion on its very first day of trading. Jobs looked to marketing expert John Scully of Pepsi-Cola to help fill the role of Apple’s president.
Departure from Apple
However, the next several products from Apple suffered significant design flaws resulting in recalls and consumer disappointment. IBM suddenly surpassed Apple sales, and Apple had to compete with an IBM/PC dominated business world.
In 1984, Apple released the Macintosh, marketing the computer as a piece of a counter culture lifestyle: romantic, youthful, creative. But despite positive sales and performance superior to IBM’s PCs, the Macintosh was still not IBM compatible. Scully believed Jobs was hurting Apple, and executives began to phase him out.
In 1985, Jobs resigned as Apple’s CEO to begin a new hardware and software company called NeXT, Inc. 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 following year Jobs purchased an animation company from George Lucas, which later became Pixar Animation Studios. Believing in Pixar’s potential, Jobs initially invested $50 million of his own money into the company. Pixar Studios went on to produce wildly popular animation films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Pixar’s films have netted $4 billion. The studio merged with Walt Disney in 2006, making Steve Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder.
Return To Apple
In 1996, Apple announced that it would buy NeXT for $427 million. The deal was finalized in February 1997, bringing Jobs back to the company he co-founded. Jobs became de facto chief after then-CEO Gil Amelio was ousted in July 1997. He was formally named interim chief executive in September.
Much like Steve Jobs instigated Apple’s success in the 1970s, he is credited with revitalizing the company in the 1990s. With a new management team, altered stock options and a self-imposed annual salary of $1 a year, Jobs put Apple back on track. His ingenious products such as the iMac, effective branding campaigns, and stylish designs caught the attention of consumers once again.
Apple introduced such revolutionary products as the Macbook Air, iPod and iPhone, all of which have dictated the evolution of modern technology. Almost immediately after Apple releases a new product, competitors scramble to produce comparable technologies. Apple’s quarterly reports improved significantly in 2007: Stocks were worth $199.99 a share—a record-breaking number at that time—and the company boasted a staggering $1.58 billion dollar profit, an $18 billion dollar surplus in the bank and zero debt.
In 2008, iTunes became the second biggest music retailer in America-second only to Wal-Mart. Half of Apple’s current revenue comes from iTunes and iPod sales, with 200 million iPods sold and six billion songs downloaded. For these reasons, Apple has been ranked No. 1 on Fortune magazine’s list of “America’s Most Admired Companies,” as well as No. 1 among Fortune 500 companies for returns to shareholders.
Jobs died at his Palo Alto, California, home around 3 p.m. 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.