American business executive, computer programmer, and entrepreneur
Computer designer and corporate executive Steve Jobs is cofounder of Apple Computers. With his vision of affordable personal computers, he launched one of the largest industries of the past decades while still in his early twenties. He remains one of the most inventive and energetic minds in American technology.
Steven Jobs was born February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. He grew up with one sister, Patty. Paul Jobs was a machinist and fixed cars as a hobby. Jobs remembers his father as being very skilled at working with his hands.
In 1961 the family moved to Mountain View, California. This area, just south of Palo Alto, California, was becoming a center for electronics. Electronics form the basic elements of devices such as radios, televisions, stereos, and computers. At that time people started to refer to the area as “Silicon Valley.” This is because a substance called silicon is used in the manufacturing of electronic parts.
As a child, Jobs preferred doing things by himself. He swam competitively, but was not interested in team sports or other group activities. He showed an early interest in electronics and gadgetry. He spent a lot of time working in the garage workshop of a neighbor who worked at Hewlett-Packard, an electronics manufacturer.
Jobs also enrolled in the Hewlett-Packard Explorer Club. There he saw engineers demonstrate new products, and he saw his first computer at the age of twelve. He was very impressed, and knew right away that he wanted to work with computers.
While in high school Jobs attended lectures at the Hewlett-Packard plant. On one occasion he boldly asked William Hewlett (1931–2001), the president, for some parts he needed to complete a class project. Hewlett was so impressed he gave Jobs the parts, and offered him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard.
College and travel
After graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for two years. He dropped out after one semester to visit India and study eastern religions in the summer of 1974. In 1975 Jobs joined a group known as the Homebrew Computer Club. One member, a technical whiz named Steve Wozniak (1950–), was trying to build a small computer. Jobs became fascinated with the marketing potential of such a computer. In 1976 he and Wozniak formed their own company. They called it Apple Computer Company, in memory of a happy summer Jobs had spent picking apples. They raised $1,300 in startup money by selling Jobs’s microbus and Wozniak’s calculator. At first they sold circuit boards (the boards that hold the internal components of a computer) while they worked on the computer prototype (sample).
Apple and the personal computer era
Jobs had realized there was a huge gap in the computer market. At that time almost all computers were mainframes. They were so large that one could fill a room, and so costly that individuals could not afford to buy them. Advances in electronics, however, meant that computer components were getting smaller and the power of the computer was increasing.
Jobs and Wozniak redesigned their computer, with the idea of selling it to individual users. The Apple II went to market in 1977, with impressive first year sales of $2.7 million. The company’s sales grew to $200 million within three years. This was one of the most phenomenal cases of corporate growth in U.S. history. Jobs and Wozniak had opened an entirely new market—personal computers. Personal computers began an entirely new way of processing information.
By 1980 the personal computer era was well underway. Apple was continually forced to improve its products to remain ahead, as more competitors entered the marketplace. Apple introduced the Apple III, but the new model suffered technical and marketing problems. It was withdrawn from the market, and was later reworked and reintroduced.
Jobs continued to be the marketing force behind Apple. Early in 1983 he unveiled the Lisa. It was designed for people possessing minimal computer experience. It did not sell well, however, because it was more expensive than personal computers sold by competitors. Apple’s biggest competitor was International Business Machines (IBM). By 1983 it was estimated that Apple had lost half of its market share (part of an industry’s sales that a specific company has) to IBM.
In 1984 Apple introduced a revolutionary new model, the Macintosh. The on-screen display had small pictures called icons. To use the computer, the user pointed at an icon and clicked a button using a new device called a mouse. This process made the Macintosh very easy to use. The Macintosh did not sell well to businesses, however. It lacked features other personal computers had, such as a corresponding high quality printer. The failure of the Macintosh signaled the beginning of Jobs’s downfall at Apple. Jobs resigned in 1985 from the company he had helped found, though he retained his title as chairman of its board of directors.
Jobs soon hired some of his former employees to begin a new computer company called NeXT. Late in 1988 the NeXT computer was introduced at a large gala event in San Francisco, aimed at the educational market. Initial reactions were generally good. The product was very user-friendly, and had a fast processing speed, excellent graphics displays, and an outstanding sound system. Despite the warm reception, however, the NeXT machine never caught on. It was too costly, had a black-and-white screen, and could not be linked to other computers or run common software.
NeXT was not, however, the end of Steve Jobs. In 1986 Jobs purchased a small company called Pixar from filmmaker George Lucas (1944–). Pixar specialized in computer animation. Nine years later Pixar released Toy Story, a huge box office hit. Pixar later went on to make Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life, which Disney distributed, and Monsters, Inc. All these films have been extremely successful. Monsters, Inc. had the largest opening weekend ticket sales of any animated film in history.
NeXT and Apple
In December of 1996 Apple purchased NeXT Software for over $400 million. Jobs returned to Apple as a part-time consultant to the chief executive officer (CEO). The following year, in a surprising event, Apple entered into a partnership with its competitor Microsoft. The two companies, according to the New York Times, “agreed to cooperate on several sales and technology fronts.” Over the next six years Apple introduced several new products and marketing strategies.
In November 1997 Jobs announced Apple would sell computers directly to users over the Internet and by telephone. The Apple Store became a runaway success. Within a week it was the third-largest e-commerce site on the Internet. In September of 1997 Jobs was named interim CEO of Apple.
In 1998 Jobs announced the release of the iMac, which featured powerful computing at an affordable price. The iBook was unveiled in July 1999. This is a clam-shaped laptop that is available in bright colors. It includes Apple’s AirPort, a computer version of the cordless phone that would allow the user to surf the Internet wirelessly. In January 2000 Jobs unveiled Apple’s new Internet strategy. It included a group of Macintosh-only Internet-based applications. Jobs also announced that he was becoming the permanent CEO of Apple.
In a February 1996 Time magazine article, Jobs said, “The thing that drives me and my colleagues … is that you see something very compelling to you, and you don’t quite know how to get it, but you know, sometimes intuitively, it’s within your grasp. And it’s worth putting in years of your life to make it come into existence.” Jobs has worked hard to translate his ideas into exciting and innovative products for businesses and consumers. He was instrumental in launching the age of the personal computer. Steve Jobs is truly a computer industry visionary.
For More Information
Brashares, Ann. Steve Jobs: Think Different. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-first Century Books, 2001.
Butcher, Lee. Accidental Millionaire: The Rise and Fall of Steven Jobs at Apple Computer. New York: Paragon House, 1987.
Wilson, Suzan. Steve Jobs: Wizard of Apple Computer. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2001.
Young, Jeffrey S. Steve Jobs: The Journey is the Reward. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1988.
HONORS AND AWARDS
- 1985: National Medal of Technology (with Steve Wozniak)
- 1987: Jefferson Award for Public Service
- 1989: “Entrepreneur of the Decade” by Inc. Magazine
- 2007: Steve Jobs being named as the “most powerful person” in business by Fortune Magazine and inducted into the California Hall of Fame located at the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts
- 2012: Grammy Trustees Award, an award for those who influence the music industry in areas that are unrelated to performance
- 2013: Having the induction as a legend of Disney
He died at age 56 on October 5, 2011, of respiratory arrest related to the tumor
Jobs died at his Palo Alto, California, home around 3 p.m. (PDT) on October 5, 2011, due to complications from a relapse of his previously treated islet-cell pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, which resulted in respiratory arrest. He had lost consciousness the day before and died with his wife, children, and sisters at his side. His sister, Mona Simpson, described his death thus: “Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times. Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve’s final words were: ‘Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.'” He then lost consciousness and died several hours later. A small private funeral was held on October 7, 2011, the details of which were not revealed out of respect for Jobs’s family.
‘You’ve got to find what you love,’ Jobs says
Steve jobs speech at stanford university
This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.
Video of Steve Jobs’ Commencement address on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down — that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.
This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.
Steve Jobs Quotes
I want to put a ding in the universe.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
We hire people who want to make the best things in the world.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.
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.
Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.
You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.
It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
25 Steve Jobs Quotes That Will Change the Way You Work—in the Best Way Possible
Fact: Steve Jobs didn’t become successful overnight.
It took years of hard work, determination, and perseverance to build Apple into the company that it is today. When you take a step back from your MacBook (and put down your iPhone), and really think about all that he accomplished, it’s beyond remarkable. He changed the way we live.
Thanks to his many lectures and speeches, we have a glimpse into his day-to-day work ethic and how he managed to do as much as he did. And, in order to help you reach your career goals, we’ve rounded up 25 of his best quotes. Read them, be inspired by them, and then get out there and make your dreams come true.
My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.
I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.
I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.
Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.
Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.
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.
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
What is Apple, after all? Apple is about people who think ‘outside the box,’ people who want to use computers to help them change the world, to help them create things that make a difference, and not just to get a job done.
Things don’t have to change the world to be important.
Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.
I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.
Bottom line is, I didn’t return to Apple to make a fortune. I’ve been very lucky in my life and already have one. When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.
My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life