OBITUARY: Steve Jobs: Maverick genius at the core of Apple's success
By Andy Goldberg Oct 6, 2011, 0:19 GMT
A picture dated 12 January 2008 shows Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs holding up the new Macbook Air, an ultra-thin laptop in San Francisco, California, USA. EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO
San Francisco - Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc, was born in February 1955 in central California to a Syrian father and an American mother who gave him up for adoption a week after birth.
Apple's board, which he served as chairman, announced Jobs' death Wednesday at age 56.
He was raised in a blue-collar home just as nearby Silicon Valley was starting to blossom as a technology centre, and got his first job at the age of 12 by calling Hewlett-Packard founder Bill Hewlett at his home.
Jobs skipped a grade at school thanks to his high IQ but was later expelled for a series of pranks, such as exploding bombs and releasing snakes in the classroom.
After only one semester, Jobs dropped out of university and began working for nascent video-game maker Atari, until he had saved enough money to embark on a spiritual trek to India.
He returned after the trip to his job at Atari, where in 1976 he persuaded colleague and friend Steve Wozniak to quit his job and launch a company - to sell the home computer Wozniak had designed.
Jobs quickly sold 50 of the computer kits to a local store, and Apple was on its way, with Wozniak as the designer and Jobs the marketer.
From the start Jobs exhibited a penchant for single-minded individuality, which earned him a reputation among early Apple employees as a fiery-tempered, brilliant but difficult boss.
His successes were often world-changing, but his failures were equally dramatic.
Among these were the 1983 introduction of the Lisa, a computer named after his daughter, and the hiring in the same year of former Pepsi chief executive John Scully to manage Apple on a more professional basis.
The high-priced Lisa was a huge commercial flop, but it did forge the way for the Macintosh, the first popular computer to use a graphical interface. Scully ousted Jobs in 1985 and almost drove the company to bankruptcy before Jobs returned to the rescue in 1997.
Jobs was deflated by his exile, but he used the years well.
He bought a digital animation division from filmmaker George Lucas in 1986 for 10 million dollars, renamed it Pixar and turned it into the most successful animated film studio in the world. Jobs then sold it to Disney for 7.4 billion dollars.
He founded Next computers to realize his vision of elegant but powerful personal computing. Though it was a commercial failure, computer scientist Tim Berners Lee used one to create the world wide web. Jobs later sold the company to Apple, where its technology formed the basis of Apple's current operating system.
Jobs married Laurene Powell, nine years his junior, in 1991, and has three children with her. He has a daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, from an earlier relationship.
When Jobs was rehired as Apple chief executive, he set about paring its product line and revitalizing the company with the iMac, a colourful one-piece computer. He outlined a strategy to make Apple products the centrepiece of an emerging digital lifestyle.
Though he had been outmanoeuvred by his great rival, Bill Gates at Microsoft, Jobs stuck to the same digital vision he had started with - that for computers to achieve their optimum performance Apple had to retain control over both hardware and software. Ultimately, that stubborn insistence was at the basis of its later success.
Apple launched the iPod in 2001 and the iTunes online music store in 2003, which within seven years had sold more than 10 billion songs and completely dominated the online music business.
Jobs' next great success was the iPhone, launched in 2007, which revolutionized the smartphone market and is forecast to reach a total of 100 million units sold later this year. The company launched the iPad last year, sparking unprecedented demand for tablet computers, selling more than 25 million units so far.
Those successes have propelled Apple's stock price from a low of 9 dollars before Jobs came back to close at more than 376 dollars before Jobs announced his resignation as chief executive on August 24.
Having survived a bout of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and a liver transplant in 2009, Jobs reportedly retained his fiery mannerisms, quixotic individualism, intolerance for incompetence and famous charisma.
'Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick,' he told the Stanford University graduation ceremony in 2005 in comments that summed up his own approach to life.
'Don't lose faith. You've got to find what you love,' he said. 'So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.'
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