Steve Jobs

If he’d never been raised by adoptive parents in Silicone Valley, we might never have had the Apple Mac, the iPod, or the iPhone, and Microsoft would have been left unchecked. Find out all about the psychedelic drug taking, counter-culture, king of cool computing.

Steve Jobs was the first child of two University of Wisconsin graduates; speech therapist, Joanne Simpson and Syrian political science professor, Abdulfattah "John" Jandali. Sadly, they gave him up for adoption shortly before marrying and having another child, Mona Simpson. (He would be 27 before he discovered the truth about his biological parents.)

He was adopted by Clara, an accountant, and machinist Paul Jobs, an ex Coast Guard. They named him Steven Paul Jobs. The family lived in Mountain View within California's Silicone Valley. As a boy, Jobs and his father would work on electronics in the family garage. Paul would show his son how to take apart and reconstruct electronics, a hobby which instilled confidence, tenacity, and mechanical prowess in young Jobs.

While Jobs has always been an intelligent and innovative thinker, his youth was riddled with frustrations over formal schooling. In elementary school he was a prankster whose fourth grade teacher needed to bribe him to study. Jobs tested so well, however, that administrators wanted to skip him ahead to high school—a proposal his parents declined. After he did enrol in high school, Jobs spent his free time at Hewlett-Packard. It was there that he befriended computer club guru Steve Wozniak. Wozniak was a brilliant computer engineer, and the two developed great respect for one another.

After high school, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Lacking direction, he dropped out of college after six months and spent the next 18 months dropping in on creative classes. Jobs later recounted how one course in calligraphy developed his love of typography.

In 1974, Jobs took a position as a video game designer with Atari. Several months later he left Atari to find spiritual enlightenment in India, travelling the continent and experimenting with psychedelic drugs. In 1976, when Jobs was just 21, he and Wozniak started Apple Computers. The duo started in the Jobs family garage, and funded their entrepreneurial venture after Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak sold his beloved scientific calculator.

Jobs and Wozniak are credited with revolutionizing the computer industry by democratising the technology and making the machines smaller, cheaper, intuitive, and accessible to everyday consumers. The two conceived a series of user-friendly personal computers that they initially marketed for $666.66 each. Their first model, the Apple I, earned them $774,000. Three years after the release of their second model, the Apple II, sales increased 700 percent to $139 million dollars. In 1980, Apple Computer became a publically traded company with a market value of $1.2 billion on the very first day of trading. Jobs looked to marketing expert John Scully of Pepsi-Cola to help fill the role of Apple's President.

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. 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.

Despite Pixar's success, NeXT, Inc. floundered in its attempts to sell its specialized operating system to mainstream America. Apple eventually bought the company in 1997 for $429 million. That same year, Jobs returned to his post as Apple's CEO.

Much like Steve Jobs instigated Apple's success in the 1970s, he is credited with revitalising 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.

In 2003, Jobs discovered he had a neuroendocrine tumour, a rare but operable form of pancreatic cancer. Instead of immediately opting for surgery, Jobs chose to alter his pescovegetarian diet while weighing Eastern treatment options. For nine months Jobs postponed surgery, making Apple's board of directors nervous. Executives feared that shareholders would pull their stocks if word got out that their CEO was ill. But in the end, Job's confidentiality took precedence over shareholder disclosure. In 2004, he had a successful surgery to remove the pancreatic tumour. True to form, in subsequent years Jobs has disclosed little about his health.

In recent years, Apple has 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. In 2007, Apple's quarterly reports were the company's most impressive statistics to date. Stocks were worth a record-breaking $199.99 a share, 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, 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 rated No. 1 in America's Most Admired Companies, and No. 1 amongst Fortune 500 companies for returns to shareholders.

Early in 2009, reports circulated about Jobs' weight loss, some predicting his health issues had returned, which included a liver transplant. Jobs had responded to these concerns by stating he was dealing with a hormone imbalance. After nearly a year out of the spotlight Steve Jobs delivered a keynote address at an invite-only Apple event on 9 September 2009.

In respect to his personal life, Steve Jobs remained a private man who rarely disclosed information about his family. What is known is Jobs fathered a daughter with girlfriend Chrisann Brennan when he was 23. Jobs denied paternity of his daughter Lisa in court documents, claiming he was sterile. Jobs did not initiate a relationship with his daughter until she was seven but, when she was a teenager, she came to live with her father.

In the early 1990s, Jobs met Laurene Powell at Stanford business school, where Powell was an MBA student. They married on 18 March 1991, and lived in Palo Alto, California, with their three children.

He also seemed to be credit crunch proof as he saw profits soar on Apple’s iPhones, laptops and desktop computers in late 2009.

Following his period away from the company, Jobs returned and continued to steer the technology leader towards further landmark successes. In January 2010, Apple launched its next groundbreaker in the form of the sleek, stylish and, as ever, painfully desirable iPad. The tablet computer flew off the shelves and racked up two million sales in just 60 days.

On the heels of the iPad came the iPhone 4 which featured an even crisper display and FaceTime video calling, once again positioning Apple several steps ahead of its competition. Innovation continued apace in Cupertino and in July of 2011 the App Store reported that it had sold more than 15 billion apps since its launch. The iPad 2 proved to be a resounding success and shortly after, Apple became the most valuable company in the world, briefly overtaking Exxon Mobil in terms of market capitalisation.

However, just two weeks later Jobs announced he would retire from the company as he was unable to meet his duties as CEO. Tim Cooke was appointed CEO and with Jobs staying on as chairman of the board and director.

Jobs was forced to step down from Apple, due to his fight with a form of aggressive pancreatic cancer. In 2009 he received a liver transplant for the disease, but his condition continued to deteriorate.

On 5 October 2011, at the age of 56, he passed away in California just hours after Apple had released their latest product; the iPhone 4S. This was the first launch the company had undertaken since his resignation in August.

Tributes to the visionary icon immediately began rolling in from some of the world’s most notable names.

American President Barack Obama said: “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”

Technological giants were also forthcoming with their praise, including Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman, who said: “The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

A more personal message was delivered from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”

It is said that he leaves behind a fortune in excess of $8billion, but he often dismissed questions about his acquired wealth saying: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me."