Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs (/ˈdʒɒbz/; February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American technology entrepreneur, visionary and inventor. He was the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Inc.; CEO and largest shareholder ofPixar Animation Studios; a member of The Walt Disney Company‘s board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar; and founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT Inc. Jobs is widely recognized as a pioneer of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s, along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Shortly after his death, Jobs’s official biographer, Walter Isaacson, described him as the “creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.”
Adopted at birth in San Francisco, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960s, Jobs’s countercultural lifestyle was a product of his time. As a senior at Homestead High School, in Cupertino, California, his two closest friends were the older engineering student (and Homestead High alumnus) Wozniak and his countercultural girlfriend, the artistically inclined Homestead High junior Chrisann Brennan. Jobs briefly attended Reed College in 1972 before dropping out, deciding to travel through India in 1974 and study Buddhism.
Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 to sell Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. The duo gained fame and wealth a year later for theApple II, one of the first highly successful mass-produced personal computers. In 1979, after a tour of Xerox PARC, Jobs saw the commercial potential of the Xerox Alto, which was mouse-driven and had a graphical user interface (GUI). This led to development of the failed Apple Lisa in 1983, followed by the successful Macintosh in 1984. In addition to being the first mass-produced computer with a GUI, the Macintosh instigated the sudden rise of the desktop publishing industry in 1985 with the addition of the AppleLaserWriter, the first laser printer to feature vector graphics. Following a long power struggle, Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985.
After leaving Apple, Jobs took a few of its members with him to found NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in state-of-the-art computers for higher-education and business markets. In addition, Jobs helped to initiate the development of thevisual effects industry when he funded the spinout of the computer graphics division of George Lucas‘s company Lucasfilm in 1986. The new company, Pixar, would eventually produce the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story—an event made possible in part because of Jobs’s financial support.
In 1997, Apple purchased NeXT, allowing Jobs to become the former’s CEO once again. He would return the company, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, back to profitability. Beginning in 1997 with the “Think different” advertising campaign, Jobs worked closely with designer Jonathan Ive to develop a line of products that would have larger cultural ramifications: the iMac, iTunes, Apple Stores, the iPod, the iTunes Store, the iPhone, the App Store, and the iPad. Mac OS was also revamped into Mac OS X, based on NeXT’s NeXTSTEP platform.
Jobs’s adoptive father, Paul Reinhold Jobs (1922–1993), grew up in a Calvinist household, the son of an “alcoholic and sometimes abusive” father. The family lived on a farm in Germantown, Wisconsin. Paul, ostensibly bearing a resemblance to James Dean, had tattoos, dropped out of high school, and traveled around the midwest for several years during the 1930s looking for work. He eventually joined the United States Coast Guard as an engine-room machinist. After World War II, Paul Jobs decided to leave the Coast Guard when it docked in San Francisco. He made a bet that he would find his wife in San Francisco and promptly went on a blind date with Clara Hagopian (1924–1986). They were engaged ten days later and married in 1946. Clara, the daughter of Armenian immigrants, grew up in San Francisco and had been married before, but her husband had been killed in the war. After a series of moves, Paul and Clara settled in San Francisco’s Sunset District in 1952. As a hobby, Paul Jobs rebuilt cars, but as a career he was a “repo man“, which suited his “aggressive, tough personality.” Meanwhile, their attempts to start a family were halted after Clara had an ectopic pregnancy, leading them to explore adoption in 1955.
Steve Jobs’s biological father, Abdulfattah “John” Jandali (b. 1931), was born into a Muslim household and grew up in Homs, Syria. Jandali is the son of a self-made millionaire who did not go to college and a mother who was a traditional housewife. While an undergraduate at the American University of Beirut, he was a student activist and spent time in jail for his political activities. Although Jandali initially wanted to study law, he eventually decided to study economics and political science. He pursued a PhD in the latter subject at the University of Wisconsin, where he met Joanne Carole Schieble, a Catholic of Swiss and German descent, who grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. As a doctoral candidate, Jandali was Schieble’s teaching assistant although both were the same age.Mona Simpson (Jobs’s biological sister), notes that her maternal grandparents were not happy that their daughter was dating Jandali: “it wasn’t that he was Middle-Eastern so much as that he was a Muslim. But there are a lot of Arabs in Michigan and Wisconsin. So it’s not that unusual.”Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs’s official biographer, additionally states that Schieble’s father “threatened to cut Joanne off completely” if she continued the relationship.
Schieble became pregnant in 1954 when she and Jandali spent the summer with his family in Homs, Syria. Jandali has stated that he “was very much in love with Joanne … but sadly, her father was a tyrant, and forbade her to marry me, as I was from Syria. And so she told me she wanted to give the baby up for adoption.” Jobs told his official biographer that Schieble’s father was dying at the time, Schieble did not want to aggravate him, and both felt that at 23 they were too young to marry. In addition, as there was a strong stigma against bearing a child out of wedlock and raising it as a single mother, and as abortions were illegal and dangerous, adoption was the only option women had in the United States in 1954. According to Jandali, Schieble deliberately did not involve him in the process: “without telling me, Joanne upped and left to move to San Francisco to have the baby without anyone knowing, including me … she did not want to bring shame onto the family and thought this was the best for everyone.” Schieble put herself in the care of a “doctor who sheltered unwed mothers, delivered their babies, and quietly arranged closed adoptions.”
Schieble gave birth to Jobs on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, and chose an adoptive couple for him that was “Catholic, well-educated, and wealthy.” However, the couple changed their mind and decided to adopt a girl instead. When the baby boy was then placed with the Bay Area blue collar couple Paul and Clara Jobs, neither of whom had a college education, Schieble refused to sign the adoption papers. She then took the matter to court, attempting to have her baby placed with a different family and only consented to releasing the baby to Paul and Clara after they promised that he would attend college. When Jobs was in high school, Clara admitted to his then-girlfriend, 17-year-old Chrisann Brennan, that she “was too frightened to love [Steve] for the first six months of his life … I was scared they were going to take him away from me. Even after we won the case, Steve was so difficult a child that by the time he was two I felt we had made a mistake. I wanted to return him.” When Chrisann shared this comment with Jobs, he stated that he was aware of it and would later say that he was deeply loved and indulged by Paul and Clara. Many years later, Jobs’s wife Laurene also noted that “he felt he had been really blessed by having the two of them as parents.” Jobs would become upset when Paul and Clara were referred to as “adoptive parents” as they “were my parents 1,000%.” With regard to his biological parents, Jobs referred to them as “my sperm and egg bank. That’s not harsh, it’s just the way it was, a sperm bank thing, nothing more.” Jandali has also stated that “I really am not his dad. Mr. and Mrs. Jobs are, as they raised him. And I don’t want to take their place.”