Steven Paul Jobs was born on 24 February 1955 in San Francisco, California, to students Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble who were unmarried at the time and gave him up for adoption. He was taken in by a working class couple, Paul and Clara Jobs, and grew up with them in Mountain View, California.
He attended Homestead High School in Cupertino California and went to Reed College in Portland Oregon in 1972 but dropped out after only one semester, staying on to “drop in” on courses that interested him.
He took a job with video game manufacturer Atari to raise enough money for a trip to India and returned from there a Buddhist.
Back in Cupertino he returned to Atari where his old friend Steve Wozniak was still working. Wozniak was building his own computer and in 1976 Jobs pre-sold 50 of the as-yet unmade computers to a local store and managed to buy the components on credit solely on the strength of the order, enabling them to build the Apple I without any funding at all.
The Apple II followed in 1977 and the company Apple Computer was formed shortly afterwards. The Apple II was credited with starting the personal computer boom, its popularity prompting IBM to hurriedly develop their own PC. By the time production of the Apple II ended in 1993 it had sold over 6 million units.
Inspired by a trip to Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), engineers from Apple began working on a commercial application for the graphical interface ideas they had seen there. The resulting machine, Lisa, was expensive and never achieved any level of commercial success, but in 1984 another Apple computer, using the same WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer) interface concept, was launched. An advert during the 1984 Super Bowl, directed by Ridley Scott introduced the Macintosh computer to the world (in fact, the advert had been shown on a local TV channel in Idaho on 31 December 1983 and in movie theaters during January 1984 before its famous “premiere” on 22 January during the Super Bowl).
In 1985 Jobs was fired from Apple and immediately founded another computer company, NeXT. Its machines were not a commercial success but some of the technology was later used by Apple when Jobs eventually returned there.
In the meantime, in 1986, Jobs bought The Computer Graphics Group from Lucasfilm. The group was responsible for making high-end computer graphics hardware but under its new name, Pixar, it began to produce innovative computer animations. Their first title under the Pixar name, Luxo Jr. (1986) won critical and popular acclaim and in 1991 Pixar signed an agreement with Disney, with whom it already had a relationship, to produce a series of feature films, beginning with Toy Story (1995).
In 1996 Apple bought NeXT and Jobs returned to Apple, becoming its CEO. With the help of British-born industrial designer Jonathan Ive, Jobs brought his own aesthetic philosophy back to the ailing company and began to turn its fortunes around with the release of the iMac in 1998. The company’s MP3 player, the iPod, followed in 2001, with the iPhone launching in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. The company’s software music player, iTunes, evolved into an online music (and eventually also movie and software application) store, helping to popularize the idea of “legally” downloading entertainment content.
In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery in 2004. Despite the success of this operation he became increasingly ill and received a liver transplant in 2009. He returned to work after a six month break but eventually resigned his position in August 2011 after another period of medical leave which began in January 2011. He died on 5 October 2011.